12 May 2011

LA blog day 2 - Vintage Shop Exploration

So, day 2 of my Quiksilver Women trip to LA was devoted to shopping. That's right, SHAWPPING! And what better way to explore the fashion culture of California than trailing round a selection of brilliant vintage stores? It’s an area where the weather is always nice and casual clothes, rather than glammed up or overstyled ensembles are de vigour. From Kate Bosworth to Dita Von Teese, it’s that laid back, girls-dressing-in-their-Grannies-clothes, jeans-and-a-floaty-top look, embodied by the Coachella Festival which characterises the place.

As a girl who wears a lot of second-hand threads bought in the UK (though I have to say I’ve never been one of those people who get the brilliant bargains on ebay – I’m much better off where I can touch the fabrics, smell the mustiness and general try things on) I’ve heard from many sources over the years that LA is THE place to go for truly amazing vintage finds so I couldn't wait to explore!

There was a lot to live up to and I have to say; kids – I was NOT disappointed. The sheer amount of choice requires a lot of sifting or “digging” but really the main thing you are sifting for is something which suits your style rather than something of good quality in amongst all the absolute tat. The problem that we often come across in London is a high volume of stuff with lots of bad quality or damaged stock that has clearly been worn many times already, yet combined with a price that works out more expensive than the equivalent (new, unworn) item in Topshop. All the shops we visited were well organised and the racks were full, but spaced adequately enough to allow for a thorough rummaging without feeling like you were taking the place apart.

Get me getting my rummage on! Dress by Quiksilver Women, necklace made of string, vintage handbag

In American Vintage in Los Feliz I could have happily spent hours and hours, ending up with a new wardrobe and a few pairs of boots to boot (!) but managed to edit my choices down to this brilliant Seventies style rainbow-stripey top (which at first looked like a simple jersey tank but is actually a very fine cotton knit and in great, unworn condition) a hippie pendant and a Japanese-style kimono – as I’ve been aiming to get in the Kimono klub for ages.

We moseyed through another few excellent shops, like Squaresville (also in Los Feliz) then made a detour to another neighbourhood, called Silverlake. Here we happened upon more boutiquey type shops, with slightly higher priced vintage wares, but brilliant selections, often interspersed with new, independent-label bits. Fabuloso. One thing I noticed about Silverlake was that it is clearly the Hoxton or Williamsburg of LA with a young, painfully hip population all drinking iced lattes while perusing their laptops in cafes in between checking out each other’s ripped jeans at artistic tattoos. Tres chic.

Later on we made a pilgrimage to the breath-taking Hidden Treasures in Topanga Canyon.  The only way I can describe this shop is: an extremely full Aladdin’s cave of a retail destination. Nestled between the steep, windy roads and leafy foliage of the canyon - one of the places where the Californian hippie dream of the Sixties is still very much alive - with wind chimes and tie dye galore, it looks like the little crooked house on the hill but is CRAMMED, literally slammed to bursting with apparel, lampshades and bric-a-brac for homes, and gardens alike.

It blew my mind to such a degree that I attempted to shoot a teeny bit of footage to try and bring the magic back to England. It is SUCH a cult shop that it even has its own facebook page. I strongly advise that you HAVE to seek it out if you like vintage and you ever you find yourself in the area.

 

-Naomi Attwood


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