New shops, plus a rumor about Sunset Junction.
With the economy in a tail-spin, now may not be the time to consider high-end fashion boutiques in Los Angeles that are drifting eastward into Los Feliz and Silver Lake, but it has been happening ever since Lake opened on Rowena two years ago, bringing labels that previously were only seen further west in the city.
Confederacy, the boutique co-owned by an assortment of fashion, TV-actor, art and restaurant world players, opened on Hollywood Blvd. in Los Feliz last Fall in an ambitiously large space that I’ve only observed as mostly empty of customers. With a staff uniform by New York-based label Rag and Bone, a schedule of art exhibits along one wall ((currently, etchings by Julian Schnabel) and a stylist’s eye dictating the brands carried, all of the elements for success seem to be in place, on the inside of the shop, anyway. (The men’s wear is to die for.) What remains to be seen is if the outside world cooperates. When most stores had fire sale prices during the run-up to Christmas, Confederacy kept its price points high. Now the winter line is on sale, but much of it could be had in mid-November for a fraction of the price at stores like Barneys, Nordstrom, Saks and the like. Who wants it now with Spring looming?
Confederacy shares its stretch of Hollywood Blvd. with American Apparel; Glory, a biker fashion shop (no motorcycle required;) a Good Will thrift shop; Jake, a high-end men’s vintage clothing shop; and Hotel de Ville, a shop specializing in vintage eyeglass frames; not to mention other boutiques around the corner on Vermont Ave. One could be forgiven from making the assumption that all of Los Angeles has money to spend on clothes.
Steven Alan Outpost opened last month on Hillhurst in Los Feliz, stocking previous seasons of men’s and women’s lines by Alan (who first made his mark with a small shirt shop in Manhattan’s West Village,) as well as A.P.C., Double RL, Acne and others. Everything is steeply discounted (leftover items from last season, but it’s mostly classic– nothing really trendy here) and according to a guy who works there, “The stuff flies out of here.”
I heard a rumor from a fashionista friend that Martin Margiela, the Belgian fashion designer, is opening a boutique on Sunset Junction in Silver Lake. If true, this would be the first high-end shop on that strip, which has few empty storefronts at the moment. In a better economy, it might prove to be the tipping point for that area and usher in other high-end shops, but in these financially challenging times, who knows?
The fashion world is rife with rumor and intrigue, so make what you will of this. One thing for certain, it excites Margiela fans, whose eyes practically glaze over as they speak of him in raptly adoring terms.
The secretive Margiela, who has never been publicly photographed and never appears onstage after his fashion shows, is known for opening boutiques in unexpected locations, i.e. away from expensive shopping streets, although he currently has a shop in Beverly Hills. And dig his I’m-so-over-the-internet website.
Two people working in the shops along Sunset Junction said they had heard nothing about a Margiela shop. One said, “We hear that sort of thing all the time. Last I heard, an Urban Outfitters was coming in.” Another shop worker said he heard Urban Outfitters was going into a large space on Sunset in Echo Park.
On Sunset Junction, the former site of the Eat Well restaurant has been vacant for almost a year– although when I walked past it a few days ago, renovation work was being done inside. However, the next two days it was all locked up again. The boutique called Pull My Daisy had a sign up for months saying the business was for sale, but it has disappeared from the window.
I called the Margiela boutique in Beverly Hills and asked if the rumor was true about a new Silver Lake location. The person I spoke with said, without missing a beat, “No, it is not opening. Maybe it is someone else.”
In light of all of this, I was struck by an article in Sunday’s NY Times reporting on NYC commercial landlords who were negotiating with struggling shops in trendy areas that had fallen behind in rent, in an effort to retain them, rather than evicting them and having a space sit empty for who knows how long– a shocking development in that hard, fast, moneyed town. Could this be a harbinger of things to come in Los Angeles? At this point, with new shops opening all the time, it’s hard to say what’s at stake during the economic downturn for retail businesses, new and established.
Photos by CP