City Guides |

Big Boutiques in Los Angeles

Jason Campbell

When two sprawling unisex, multi-brand retailers open in Los Angeles within months of each other, it’s a signal that the city is undergoing yet another retail renaissance. Wild Style is an apt name for a Joyrich-owned concept store, which was “established to bring joyful times and rich feelings to customers,” according to retail director Takuya Takahashi. This hyper-trendy street wear addition to the Los Angeles scene from entrepreneur Tom Hirota sits on Melrose, not far from the movement’s epicenter on Fairfax Ave. With its cutting edge, mostly high-end street wear brands, Wild Style is a veritable temple of worship in an age of loud, graphically embellished casualwear.

Jeremy Scott for Adidas commands a wall for his signature trainers with wings, flames and pink teddy bear flourishes, all complemented by a selection of active wear with baroque prints and accessories. Elsewhere, Kris Van Assche practically perfect backpacks as well as Bernhard Willhelm sensational tracksuits and shells are stocked alongside Vivienne Westwood’s small leather goods. Red-hot KTZ, meanwhile, has seen coveted converts like Rihanna, Rita Ora, Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa, who have flocked to the line in the last year and caused stampedes among the clued in urban fashion set. “KTZ is our biggest seller,” confirms Takahashi.

Less established brands in the US—think Astrid Andersen fur-embellished jerseys, oversized t-shirts form Daniel Palillo, Shaun Samson and Alex Mattson—are also a big draw, according to Takahashi. “They come to the store to discover,” he explains. Gerlen Jeans from Brooklyn is rarely found in stateside boutiques, but a full range is on display, while Sibling, the London-based line specializing in colorful knits, also makes a rare appearance. Copious containers of tchotchkes, random accessories and a formidable selection of Tocca Beauty and Wild Style baseball hats round out the offering.

Suitably, Wild Style’s clientele falls in the jetsetter category, that growing audience of young insiders with disposable cash seeking more that a pair of Air Jordans for street cred. They want Kenzo (coming next season along with Versace) and SIR New York.

Just One Eye sits in Howard Hughes’ former Hollywood headquarters on Romaine Street surrounded by a cluster of studios. This massive, off-the-beaten-track warehouse space reflects the company’s online origins. Buyer Farrah Katina explains this as a differentiating tactic: ”it’s a different way of retailing—the store was a way to link our website with our image.” While densely fashion-oriented, Just One Eye’s image also has a strong link to the art world. At the store’s entrance, shoppers are met by a gargantuan spot painting from Damien Hirst and life-size Murakami sculptures. Shoppers can buy bags from a collaboration between the The Row and Damien Hirst, while art and furniture on display are all for sale as well. Katina insists that the store has “no position in a huge fashion market, [so] we’re also about art and collectibles.”

The art is as impressive as the selection of fashion brands, which encompasses a stunning mix of labels not otherwise represented in Los Angeles: Anthony Vaccarello’s barely there dresses with strategic cutouts, Alexandre Vauthier’s glamorously tailored separates, one-of-a-kind Paco Rabanne chain link dresses and Wilfredo Rosado’s exquisitely crafted gold and diamond jewelry.

From the deft mix of brands, it comes as no surprise that proprietor Paula Russo brings 25 years of experience at Ann Demeulmeester and Maxfield to this project. The latter’s direct influence on the brand selection is hard to overlook. Russo has made an evident effort to secure brands not sold at Maxfield, which is no small feat considering the iron-fisted monopoly the boutique has so many coveted brands.

A selection from Valentino and Proenza Schouler represent the most conventional pickings, while brands such as Tokyo-based Tsimuro Chisato and Julien David, specialist European houses including Maiyet, Jitrois, Piece d’Anarchive, Officine Generale, Christophe Lemaire, Mai L’Amore and the exclusive clutches and sandals from Newbark comprise the most thoughtful brands on offer.