Best of L.A.

Best Of 2015

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Best Of :: Shopping & Services

Best Place to Get Ready to Shred on the Sidewalk
Blury
Adam Gropman

Skateboarding is a confounding puzzle for those of us who lack that elusive, seemingly magical sense of balance and coordination. For those who take to boarding with the ease of a duck in water, the sport must be very freeing. But even a non-natural skater knows that if you wanna shred on a board, you've got to have a skateboard that you love. That's where the right store comes in. East Hollywood's Blury, named after the effects on your vision from smoking too much chronic, has gained an air-tight reputation from local young boarders for its killer selection, straight-up, no-bull customer service and very low prices. Laid-back owners Chris and Jack stock Primitive, Plan B, Chocolate and Skate Mafia lines, and they carry penny boards and long boards and also have some rad T-shirts and fixed-gear bikes. And at these gas prices, boards get incredibly good mileage.

4884 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles, 90029
MAP
323-603-7401
Best Place to Buy Vintage T-Shirts
Kelly Cole
Hillel Anon

Tucked inside this small storefront on South La Brea with a ruby red carpet lies the absolute mecca for vintage rock & roll T-shirts. Clothing designer Kelly Cole, an ex–club kid/DJ/restaurant owner, has become one of the foremost experts in tracking down ultra-rare, original tees. Be warned: They don't come cheap. An original Cramps shirt might set you back $350, a Nirvana In Utero shirt $250. Other ridiculously rare gems include a shirt for Plato's Retreat, a 1970s swingers club ($350); a shirt for Andy Warhol's film Bad ($700); and the pièce de résistance, a sweater from Vivienne Westwood's label, Seditionaries ($1,200!). You'll also find, for the comparatively low price of $65, vintage T-shirts adorned with everything from Magic Johnson to "Impeach Richard Nixon," as well as Cole-designed jeans, belts and T-shirts. You might even see such celebrities as Chris Pine, Ryan Adams, Travis Barker and Kid Cudi, all of them customers.

175 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, 90036
MAP
323-692-5012
Best Steampunk Jewelry, Hats and Duds 
Clockwork Couture
Danielle Bedics

One of L.A.'s great eccentric clothiers, Clockwork Couture is where serious steampunks source their parasols, gloves, frilly hats, goggles, gowns, long coats, leather "harness," corsets, boots, walking canes, medals of uncertain origin and, of course, timepieces. Reveling in the reimagined world of Victorian romance, steam travel, dirigibles and buccaneers, the shop can dress you in some of the most striking examples of sartorial whimsy you can hope to find.  Even if you don't necessarily identify with the steampunk aesthetic, a dramatic dress or vintage accessory can be the unique and envied centerpiece of your wardrobe.  In recent months Clockwork Couture has moved its inventory to an upstairs room and established its Geeky Teas shop and game room in the downstairs space; those seeking off-the-rack and custom orders can make appointments on weekends, noon to 8 p.m. (Of special note: Most of the shop's profits are earmarked for its own cat rescue, Clockwork Cature.)

707 S. Main St., Burbank, 91506
MAP
818-478-1515
Best Cocktail-Dress Maker
Olga Dress Maker
Jill Stewart

There's this crazy little dress shop on Sherman Way in Canoga Park, its walls festooned with hot numbers like a stretchy ruched purple cocktail mini-dress and a pink satin off-shoulder club-dancing gown. Off to one side, bent over her work, sits Olga, with her power sewing machine and her handmade book thick with photos of Latina women and the pictures they've brought her, cut from magazines, of their dream dresses. From these, Olga will re-create any fantasy gown in any color and any fabric you provide, and add any twist, all for less than the price of something off the rack (around $100). She peruses your idea, sketches it up, measures you. Her English is broken but the plan is agreed upon. She creates a paper pattern, then cuts and sews the chosen material. You return for the final fitting. "Custom-made!" Olga boasts. And yes, the tiny, blond Olga is a sweetheart.

21510 Sherman Way, Canoga Park, 91303
MAP
818-324-5538
Best Environmentally Friendly Boutique
Reformation
Riley Kern

Reformation might seem like one of the least likely L.A. boutiques to scale up. Yet the fashion line that made its name handcrafting chic, feminine pieces out of fabric salvaged from vintage threads has opened two shops in New York, raised $12 million in financing in 2015 and is positioned to triple its revenue over last year. After Reformation co-founder Yael Aflalo became appalled by the environmental toll of Chinese manufacturing, which she witnessed firsthand during the production of her earlier clothing line, Ya-Ya, she set out to make clothes with the lowest possible carbon footprint — pieces that were as responsible as they were beautiful. Of course, Reformation’s initial concept — to source most of its material from meticulously disassembled used garments — wouldn’t cut it if the company was to hit $25 million in sales in 2014 (which it did) and keep costs somewhat reasonable (which it has). So Aflalo added to the mix environmentally friendly fabric, which means Reformation’s downtown L.A. factory now can produce about 200 of each of the 15 pieces (in three colors) it launches weekly. Speaking of 200, that’s the number of gallons of water a mass-market clothing line uses to produce a single shirt, Aflalo told Forbes earlier this year; a shirt of hers, by comparison, uses six.

8253 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, 90046
MAP
323-852-0005
Best New Shoes That Look Vintage
Re-Mix
Whitney Friedlander

If you love the look of vintage but don’t love the idea of slipping your foot into shoes once worn by a stranger, you can circumvent your squeamishness at Re-Mix. The shop used to source vintage kicks for theater, film and television — but when the supply of quality vintage grew low, Re-Mix began working with manufacturers to create replicas. Re-Mix stocks dozens of reproductions of men’s and women’s shoes from the first half of the 20th century, and most styles are priced under $200. One particularly swoon-worthy pair of pumps, the Eva, channels the late 1940s with its d’Orsay cut, peep toe and button detail near the outer ankle. The best part: Because these shoes are timeless, they’ll never go out of style. It turns out they do make them like they used to.

7607 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, 90036
MAP
323-936-6210
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Best Place to Get Ready to Shred on the Sidewalk: Blury

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