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The Best Boutiques in Los Angeles

Shopping is an essential activity in L.A., and these five spots are worth a visit

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Clare V.

Since launching her handbags and accessories line in 2008, accessories designer Clare Vivier has mastered the delicate combination of Parisian chic, American prep, and California cool. While her brand has spread to seven boutiques across California and New York, her flagship shop in Silverlake may best personify her brand. Two walls of windows let the California sun stream in each morning and afternoon, and shadowboxes designed by local architect Barbara Bestor hold the goods that lure passersby along Sunset Boulevard. Technicolor best sellers such as the La Tropezienne, Simple Tote, and coveted Foldover Clutches may sit on copies of the most recent Paris Review or Louis Vuitton City Guides, which are also for sale. Everything in the well-rounded space has a connection to France, Los Angeles, or Vivier herself. The shop stocks jewelry by her friends Annie Costello Brown and Grace Lee, for example, along with French Veja sneakers and candles from West Hollywood’s iconic Chateau Marmont. Pro tip: Head here for a last-minute gift—clutches and other leather items can be monogrammed on the spot.

The Platform

A sense of discovery pervades at this innovative, open-air retail development in Culver City, which opened in 2016. Six buildings house first-to-market concept shops, pop-ups, and creative company headquarters. The place is constantly evolving, with a stylish lineup of businesses stepping in temporarily (St. Frank housewares, Charlotte Stone shoes) or permanently (Bird Brooklyn's first West Coast outpost, Magasin men’s boutique, design shop Poketo). Be sure to hit some Southern California favorites, including The Edit by Freda Salvador and Janessa Leone, for shoes and hats, and Reservoir L.A. for an impeccable edit of local fashion brands. You’ll also find great iced coffee at Blue Bottle, acai bowls at São Acai, and tacos at the unmissable Loqui. Studded with cacti and succulents, as well as hanging chairs, the outdoor areas encourage leisurely shopping breaks. Keep an eye on the Platform’s schedule of events for outdoor concerts, film screenings, and food festivals. Pro tip: Put aside 35 minutes for an Aesop Express Facial at the cult Aussie beauty shop—it’s one of only four of the brand’s shops worldwide that offers them.

Esqueleto

This highly curated yet laid-back Echo Park art gallery and shop is where the desert meets the sea, and independent LA and international artists are celebrated for their unique individuality. Near Dodger Stadium, this shop is the second California outpost from Oakland jewelry designer Lauren Wolf. Here, in the sun-soaked showroom, techniques and materials vary, but one common theme marries every object: They’re all handcrafted. A natural and organic aesthetic pervades, and the stock includes decorative objects, custom jewelry, art, and ceramics. Vintage Moroccan kilim rugs top exposed concrete floors, and large cacti are scattered about. The soundtrack: old, rare cuts; high-school marching band covers of contemporary hits, and DJ mixes by Chances with Wolves. Wolf’s eponymous line (she’s best known for one-of-a-kind engagement rings) leads the gallery-wide charge on sustainability: diamonds are certified conflict-free, and metals are recycled. The sales staff is as creative as its artisans, and personalized, no-pressure service is a signature (no appointment needed). Pro tip: Keep an eye on the shop's Instagram feed for lively art openings every two months, and frequent trunk shows. When seeking a distinctive gift, visit Esqueleto first: Its wonders include 10,000-year-old megalodon teeth from a South Carolina riverbed. It doesn’t get cooler than this.

Fred Segal

The name Fred Segal—and especially the logo—encapsulates L.A. style. Since the early 1960s, it’s been where Angelenos shop for their denim-heavy wardrobes and, in more recent history, where such trendsetting SoCal brands as Juicy Couture, J Brand, and True Religion got their start. These classics and many others line the walls of the iconic Melrose shop, but the 2017 opening of a 13,000-square-foot retail space on Sunset Boulevard started a new chapter. Along with its core seasonal collections, the shop holds 10 brand-specific shops-within-shops, along with pop-ups that change from day to day. The result is a space that feels like a high-fashion bazaar. Channel your inner treasure hunter and dig in for a long while—you’ll be rewarded with finds from AMO Denim, Seeker, Hartel, Levi’s, Marie Veronique, CAP Beauty, and Dita Eyewear. The whole selection is carefully curated to give shoppers something unique, whether it’s a vintage Comme des Garçons piece or an entire collection straight from Libertine’s runway. Must-do: Grab a coffee at Fred Segal Café by Tartine (which is so appealing for lunch that it causes an uptick in shoppers around noon each day) and snap a photo in the living room swing, with the entirety of downtown as your backdrop.

Just One Eye

This shop took over one of Los Angeles’s most iconic buildings when it opened in 2012—the art deco–styled former headquarters of business magnate Howard Hughes. But Just One Eye’s pioneering founder, Paola Russo, has managed to put her own original stamp on the space. The luxury concept store is arranged like a gallery, showcasing rare and one-of-a-kind editions of clothing, jewelry, vintage furniture, and contemporary works by such artists as Takashi Murakami. Finds range from crocodile backpacks designed in collaboration with the Row and artist Damien Hirst to a survival kit created with input from the Navy Seals. Over the years, Just One Eye has grown and evolved with shops-in-shops. Installations may feature gowns by Alexandre Vauthier—French haute couture designs sold since the store’s beginning—or Daniela Villegas’s playful jewelry inspired by nature. Somehow both intimate and grand, the eclectic boutique is decidedly gallery-like, but approachable, too. Knowledgeable staff act almost as docents, guiding customers one-on-one and offering them coffee. Insiders’ tip: Valet parking is complimentary, helping to assuage any guilt over splurging on that Gucci bag.

In Partnership with Afar.

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