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Apr 27, 2023
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L.A's hidden boutique trend

Apr 27, 2023

To spice up the retail experience, Los Angeles fashion boutiques are offering hidden spaces designed as destinations, off the beaten path. Here are the 'speakeasy' fashion boutiques in the City of Angels.

Departamento, Arts District


In the speakeasy fashion category, Departamento takes the cake with a store tucked away in the back hallway of the Maru Coffee in the Arts District. At its helm, Andrew Dryden, a former buyer for the Selfridges department store, partnered in 2017 with Joseph Quinones to create "a new retail experience that explores relationships between the digital and physical, and presents itself in an evolving gallery format that encourages a sense of discovery."

In a setting with large wood panels and walls of mirrors, Departamento presents its selection of brands, a mix of emerging brands from Roa to Second/Layer, Camiel Fortgens, Endless Joy, GR10K, Martine Rose to more established brands, as well as Marni, Loewe, Lemaire, Wales Bonner, Our Legacy or Namacheko. The fitting room, dressed in colorful velvet curtains, designer seats and chairs and large mirrors, is probably the most comfortable in Los Angeles. 

1019 South Santa Fe Avenue, Arts District. 

Lorraine's hidden store, Arts District, Los Angeles - Baz


Originally from Kansas, Mason Burns is the designer of Lorraine brand. A style deeply inspired by the cowboy culture, the western spirit and the world of horse shows in which he grew up and that once can find in his made-in-Los Angeles collections made in Los Angeles, through T-shirts with vintage-inspired prints, upcycled jackets, striped wool crop jackets and workwear style jackets. On the shelves are pairs of Santiags, his collections of bandanas and his handmade Italian suede bags flanked with a "dollar" logo. Housed in the back of Al's Bar, a bar famous in the 80s for attracting the entire Los Angeles rock and punk community and hosting David Bowie and Nirvana, among others, his Arts District studio-boutique has a saloon-like feel and displays his creations on trunks and old cowboy saddles. Also in the visible part of Al's Bar is Daniel Bean's selection of vintage T-shirts and hoodies and his Best Regards brand.
305 South Hewitt St.

Apt.4B at Row DTLA


First founded in the Fairfax district by Moon and Monique Moronta, Apt.4B has been operating since the end of 2022 at Row DTLA. A hidden boutique, without neon or name at the entrance and whose atmosphere reflects a 90's-era New York City hustler's apartment, with a lounge area equipped with a large leather sofa, leopard carpet, vintage round nestling tables, VHS, Hennessy champagne, and plastered with portraits of 90's star rappers, a kitchen room and on a rack, the graphic clothing collections by Apt.4B presenting T-shirts, hoodies and jackets. In addition to their made-in-Los Angeles collections, Apt.4B has partnered with Crystal Robles and Ricky Li of Tried and True Co who also runs the neighboring General Store, which specializes in vintage clothing from the 80's and 90's. At the back of the apartment, past the bedroom, opens a space where T-shirts, Olympic sweatshirts, varsity jackets from Ralph Lauren, boomboxes and Hermann Teddy original teddy bears can be found. Apt.4B regularly features sneaker collaborations with top brands, including Adidas and Vault by Vans.
Row DTLA, 1320 East 7th St. 

Bodega, Row DTLA


A pioneer in the "speakeasy fashion boutique" trend, Bodega opened its first store in Boston in 2006 before duplicating its business at Row DTLA in Los Angeles in 2018. Founded by the trio Jay Gordon, Oliver Mak and Dan Natola, the 8,000-square-foot space was conceived as a secret place, with an entrance reminiscent of a market warehouse. Behind the crates of melons and watermelons, Bodega opens onto a replica of a New York deli where canned goods, curlers and toilet paper are sold, and leads to a large space dedicated to sneaker brands such as Nike, Vault by Vans, Maison Mihara Yasuhiro, Suicoke or Adidas. The second floor is focused on ready-to-wear and accessories with a selection of streetwear, sportswear, outerwear and workwear including brands such as Acronym, Billionaire Boys Club, the Pharrell Williams' label, Bode, Carhartt WIP, Helmut Lang and Lemaire. 
Row DTLA, 1320 East 7th Street.

Please Do Not Enter, Downtown

Please Do Not Enter

In Downtown, the duo composed of Emmanuel Renoird and Nicolas Libert runs a hidden boutique in The Oviatt Building. An Art Deco building built in 1927, later classified as a historical monument sixty years later, and that we owe to the fashion designer James Oviatt.

To get to Please Do Not Enter, one must first make an appointment, then take the elevators with Lalique signs, and stop at the ninth floor. In their candy-pink boutique, the French duo present their fashion and accessories favorites with a selection of original brands from Belgian Walter Van Beirendonck to Asian labels Feng Chen Wang and Wooyoungmi, vintage jewelry by Pierre Cardin, Tom Ford, Dior and Yves Saint Laurent, a selection of beautiful art and fashion shows books from the luxury houses, or even pairs of diamond and rhinestone glasses from the Yvmin label. Art and design enthusiasts, the French duo also collect the works of emerging artists who are rarely seen elsewhere, such as the sculptures of Arik Levy, the masks of Christophe Coppens and the fantastic creations of Ghyslain Bertholon. In 2022, Renoird and Libert opened The Mind, their first boutique within OCMA in Orange County.
617 South Olive Street, Downtown.

Sleeper, Echo Park


In the Echo Park neighborhood, follow the 'Vintage Underground' sign, go down a few steps and discover in the basement the white brick store founded by Matt Momchilov. An artist and painter inspired by the American West spirit, the founder opened his store 'Sleeper' in 2016, choosing sharp brands for women and men, mainly from the 60's to the 90's, and pieces from recent collections, all sorted by color. In his wardrobe, a selection where you can find in regular brands: Comme des Garçons, Marni, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Ann Demeulemeester, Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, Jean-Paul Gaultier, a choice of silver jewelry, Santiags, shoes or hats. On the shelves, Sleeper also presents the crazy ceramics of the artist Jason Michel. 
2002 Sunset Boulevard, Echo Park. 

Mameg at Sonia Boyajian's store


At 357 North La Brea Avenue, in the Hancock Park neighborhood, a beautiful Art Deco building occupied by jeweler and ceramicist Sonia Boyajian has been home to the Mameg boutique for the past few months. Long housed in Beverly Hills, in a space shared with Maison Margiela, Sonia Eram, the founder of Mameg, has found an intimate and hidden space to present her selection of brands ranging from Jil Sander to Walter Van Beirendonck, Marni and Bernhard Willhelm. A lover of design and contemporary art, Mameg's designer dresses her space with photographs by the artist duo Bless, Desiree Heiss and Ines Kaag, taken in 2018 at Neutra VLD Studio and a selection of brutalist furniture. 
357 North La Brea Avenue.

Brain Dead Fabrications, Silver Lake

Brain Dead Fabrications 

LA Brain Dead design collective has a unique space in Silver Lake. At 3819 Sunset Boulevard, follow the 'Brain Dead Fabrications' sign, walk down an alley and reach the micro-boutique imagined by Kyle Ng and Ed Davis in partnership with the Dickies brand. Here, the entire workwear and streetwear universe of the brand is displayed, from ready-to-wear to accessories, furniture and ceramics, a space opened in response to the army surplus store in Silver Lake closing which was one of the only place to buy Dickie's brand. A gallery space is also proposed which showcases artists and designers loved by Brain Dead collective. Brain Dead also took over the former Silent Movie Theater during the 2019 pandemic and converted it into Brain Dead Studios with a movie theater, a café in the back of a courtyard and a hidden store upstairs. 
3819 Sunset Boulevard, 611 North Fairfax Avenue.

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