LA’s Venice embodies the free-flowing spirit of the SoCal lifestyle like nowhere else. Despite connotations of blonde haired, blue eyed skateboarders and surfers riding into the sunset, the steady invasion of creatives drawn to the neighborhood’s scruffy, hippie-infused atmosphere has steadily transformed the area into a destination that embodies the LA lifestyle: easy, cool and luxe. Abbot Kinney Boulevard, the focal point for these neo-bohème citizens, exudes an air of quaint relaxation with its numerous cafes, vintage boutiques and art galleries. But amid this boho-heaven, there are a few hidden gems that offer a highly selective, intriguingly subjective assortment of top tier designer merchandise.
At Guild, well-known brands such as Ann Demeulemeester, Haider Ackermann and A.F. Vandevorst live side by side with lesser-known designers such as Werkstatt Muenchen, LA local Annie Costello Brown, Taiana Giefer and Mihara Yasuhiro. The selection is united by a strictly forward-oriented aesthetic for the modern-day urbanite.
A little further down the street, shoe-haven Mona Moore offers Marni, Rodarte, Balenciaga and The Row’s collaboration with Toms, among others. With only about 25 styles of shoes available, the store’s success lies in owners Anna Maria Varriano and Lisa Dashiell Bush’s impeccable taste and ability to satisfy each customer’s complex need for avant- garde footwear in a beach-infused environment.
Across the street, Kendall Conrad has made a name for herself with timeless, understated bags for men and women. Designing in terms of years, not merely seasons, the label has built a loyal following of customers interested in longevity and value, rather than trends—think simple totes in neutral tones, snakeskin clutches and saddlebags in suede leather.
Excellence of a different kind can be found at Tortoise. Japanese interior accessories—from Ryota Aoki’s silver bowls to Shigeki Fujishiro’s bright red knotted baskets—are brought together by husband and wife team Keiko and Taku Shinomoto, who have strong relationships with the designers they carry, often being their exclusive carrier in the US.
Last but not least, Stronghold rounds out the list with custom-made as well as ready-to-wear denim, all made in their own shop in Los Angeles. Owner Michael Paradise personalizes each pair of denim to his customer’s wishes—be it a tighter waistband, different style of pockets or a change in fabric (Herringbone? Striped? Black? Green?). The word “no” simply does not exist here. Paradise makes sure that his international clientel is equipped with the perfect version of this quintessential wardrobe staple.