Best Of :: Shopping & Services
Los Feliz's Soap Plant Wacko is an extraordinary emporium of odds and ends (mostly odds). Its stock is so fascinating and diverse, it can be perused for hours or burst into like a bat out of hell when you're desperate to find the perfect last-minute gift. Between its selection of unicorn statuettes, taxidermy beetles and rare art books — and that's barely scratching the surface — there really is something for everyone. Owner Billy Shire has personally managed the merchandising since he took over the family business in the early 1980s. What originally began in 1971 as a handmade soap shop in Los Feliz eventually moved to Melrose Avenue when Shire took the reins, then found its current home on Hollywood Boulevard in 1995. Since then, Soap Plant Wacko has become an L.A. landmark with its vibrant murals, which can be spotted blocks away. Aside from offering an unparalleled assortment of prized collectibles and curious baubles, Soap Plant Wacko's La Luz de Jesus art gallery has been displaying the works of underground artists for the past 30 years, showcasing California's so-called lowbrow art movement.
This sartorial throwback on parking-challenged Third Street is a comforting refuge for even those guys who hate shopping for clothes. An emporium without mannequins, fancy window dressings or extensive racks, Douglas Fir is a minimalist delight, precisely because it offers customers so little to choose from. Proprietors John Noble and Tino Abarca personally select stylish and classic inventory from designers in Italy, Japan and beyond, and have done so with such care and taste that you can't help but come away with at least one George Esquivel button-down or a pair of Italian suede oxfords. Looking for a necktie? You'll have only a precious handful to consider — all courtesy of General Knot & Co. Never has "less is more" been so meaningful and helpful. A tailor comes in once a week to make sure everything's a perfect fit. If only parking were as easy.
The term "streetwear" has, in many ways, come to mean the literal opposite. These days it's flashy and even trashy, with a blingy, sporty vibe that's as caustic as it is comfortable. It's basically club-kid chic. And no L.A.-based brand has tapped into what this should look like better than Joyrich. Founded by Angeleno Tom Hirota with help from creative director David Melgar in 2007, the brand started off reinterpreting retro style with a modern flair, and along the way it evolved into a defining brand all its own, popular with ravers, rappers and rockers alike. From luxury designer logo tweaks to big-time hip-hop star collabs, Joyrich's hoodies, dresses, jackets and more demand notice, emblazoned with everything from Nagel art and Fiorucci angels to Mickey Mouse and the Playboy Bunny itself (all licensed, natch). Joyrich is an L.A. style smoothie that never ceases to lose flavor, and its funky, floral-printed flagship store on Melrose is where everyone can get a taste of the latest trends.
Being your best bud's best man means getting a sweet suit that doesn't break the bank. Nestled among the myriad stores of downtown's Fashion District, Al Weiss Men's Clothing offers top-quality custom suits for not a lot of bucks. From name-brand designers like Ralph Lauren to anonymous labels, its menswear runs the gamut of colors and cuts, and the numerous, slightly sweaty sales associates in sharp suits are ready to attend to any need. For just over $100, guys can slip into a sharp new getup. Need the suit tailored? No problem. Their pal has a shop around the corner, where a team is poised to snip and stitch your suit in record time, at rock-bottom prices. Al Weiss has been outfitting dudes for decades, providing custom suits that will make you a total winner at every wedding.
How rad is thepalatinesshoes.com? The elegant, minimalist, fashion-forward footwear, designed by local lady Jessica Taft Langdon, is super reasonably priced, considering the old-school craftsmanship (they're handmade in L.A.) and the quality of the soft, yummy leathers from which they're made. Sold in a handful of thoughtful, well-curated boutiques throughout the city, these are the shoes you slip on when you want to look effortlessly chic, vaguely European, and possibly like an Olsen twin. Whether it's a sculptural wedge, a lace-up slide sandal or a simple yet thoroughly lust-worthy mule in the world's most perfect shade of camel, the Palatines is the urban sophisticate's favorite footwear. Treat yourself to many a pair, immediately.
Based in Compton, this new casual-fashion label showcases a post-punkalyptic style suitable for those who prefer rock & roll yoga or listen to metal while meditating. Sure, the health-goth aesthetic was so 2014, but Drifter's steez skews more to the athleisure-wear side, sporting a swagger that works whether you're at a Yeezy runway show or playing an extra in Mad Max: Fury Road. For women, Drifter's amorphous apparel often obliterates the silhouette, wrapping the body in flowing fabric, or turning a patchworked pastiche of materials into an almost assemblage-art fashion piece. The menswear includes deconstructed hoodies turned inside-out, minimalist T-shirts and sweats that celebrate artfully distressed tears that resemble hand-me-downs from Edward Scissorhands. Drifter recently opened a flagship store in Costa Mesa, but its collections can be found at major clothing stores around L.A. After all, the best days in Los Angeles are entirely unpredictable; you can bounce from the art studio to a backyard chillout to a high-end haunt all within the same day, but Drifter keeps you outfitted in versatile attire that looks cool wherever you go.