826 E. 3rd St., Arts District
Set up in the center of the most walkable stretch of the Arts District, Alchemy Works is the brainchild of Lindsay and Raan Parton (his shop, Apolis, is just a few doors down) and aims to bring a bit of the coastal lifestyle to downtown. The industrial-style shop doubles as an events space, so there’s lots of room to roam around and admire the hand-picked apothecary pieces, letterpress prints, indy-designer accessories, and more. Also sharing the space is a Warby Parker shop-in-shop and a Blacktop coffee counter.
806 E. 3rd St., Arts District
Apolis is the brainchild of brothers Raan and Shea Parton, who started the social enterprise (they've officially been a B Corporation for years) back in 2004. Their mantra is "advocacy through industry," a guideline that drives their manufacturing both in the Los Angeles garment district and at factories overseas, where they employ artisans at fair wages regardless of their location. While it's undeniably fun to shop their website (you can see where each product was manufactured, alongside info about the people who made it), their flagship store in the Arts District is by far the best place to get a sense for the brand. Inside the gorgeously appointed shop, you'll find tailored men's basics and luxurious accessories like leather luggage and their famous burlap farmers market bags, which have achieved a cult-like following in LA. Check their calendar to attend one of their community events, where they bring entrepreneurs, artists, and other tastemakers to their space for talks and performances.
313 W. 8th St., Downtown
Known for its minimal aesthetic and accessible price point, COS is a destination for streamlined urban pieces for men and women.
727 N. Broadway, Ste. 115, Chinatown
Conveniently set up inside the same Chinatown strip mall as Roy Choi’s Chego, this teeny but beautifully curated vintage store is arguably one of the best in L.A. It’s also the place you want to be when hunting down the perfect pair of vintage Levi’s—the selection here isn’t necessarily vast, but each piece is lovingly chosen, washed, and repaired by the owners themselves to look its best. There are also band t-shirts, army jackets, and a few racks of dresses—all in excellent shape. If pins and patches are your thing, the semi-annual pin-and-patch parties are a totally gold mine.
954 S. Broadway, Downtown
Founded on the design principle that less is often more, Formerly Yes (which formerly used to just be online-only), now occupies an airy boutique Downtown—just a stone's throw from the Ace. Much likes its site, the offerings are extremely winnowed down and edited, i.e., you'll find only design classics, like Braun alarm clocks, Japanese platters, and Iittala tumblers.
Hennessey + Ingalls
300 S. Santa Fe Ave., Downtown
As the West Coast's largest art and architecture-centric bookstore, this is the sort of place where you can easily rack up excess baggage charges with beautiful coffee table books.
123 Astronaut E. S. Onizuka St., Downtown
Straddling downtown and Little Tokyo, the Japanese-based Kinokuniya offers great notebooks, stationery, pens, and gifts. Kids, in particular, go nuts here. There's also a location in Culver City.
1711 Mariachi Plaza de Los Angeles, Boyle Heights
This lending library lets readers borrow or buy books in a very relaxed way, as the staff here seems to care more about getting people to read the books than buy them, and lending times, unlike a typical library, vary according to the length and difficulty of the novel. It's a little out of the way, but worth the trip if you're looking to do some serious reading.
MAST Los Angeles
816 S. Santa Fe Ave., Downtown
While they’re best known for their gorgeous (artist-inspired) packaging, Mast Brothers places great emphasis on the art of chocolate-making—as evidenced by the fact that they offer tours of the process itself at each of their stores. The DTLA location is one of the three flagship stores and factories for the brand, which brothers Rick and Michael Mast founded in 2007 (the other two are located in Brooklyn and London). A package of bars makes for a practically perfect—and blessedly TSA-friendly—hostess gift.
943 N. Broadway, #203, Chinatown
This deeply under-the-radar shop, located on the second floor of a Chinatown office building, is more like a gallery than a boutique. You'll find an Opening Ceremony blouse, hung next to a vintage poster, a one-off book, and a Mended Veil necklace. They opened a second location downtown, known as Ooga Booga 2 or Ooga Twooga.
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