I finally made a list of my favorite menswear spots I go to here in Southern California. I may not buy anything every time, but it’s always great to check in and see how Menswear is doing!
Recommended Reading: How We Buy Clothes
Every once in a while, I get asked form my recommendations of places to visit in SoCal in terms of vintage and contemporary menswear. I actually don’t really consider myself an arbiter of taste, which is why I’ve always written from a place of personal journey rather than as someone of authoritative recommendations (like say Simon Crompton or David Coggins). With that said, I’ve realized that I have visited quite a few different places during the tenure of this blog around LA that some others may not have visited. The fact that I’m in quarantine reminds me that these stores and brands are going to need support after all of this! I also just miss being around classic menswear, because let’s be real; I’m not really in a financial position to buy clothes all the time.
Now, it mainly helps that LA is not a big classic menswear city; if this were a hype/streetwear or anything else, this would be a different story (have you been to Bodega or Departamento?). There is also the problem of everything being so far apart, making it difficult to see everything, which is means there might be stores out there that I’ve never been to (or only went to once). But that just means the one’s I’ve actually visited more than once stand out and there’s a enough to make a short list that could prove useful if you’re planning on visiting my neck of the woods!
Even though I live close to some (and far from others), it’s always an occasion to stop by. I may work in the industry now (at least tangentially for the most part), but so far, I haven’t lost that sense of wonder of walking into a world of menswear that isn’t just the mall.
So you may recognize many of the stores and brands on this list, because they really are places I go to and have written about on this blog! They’ve just been compiled into an easy to reference article for the first time. Feel free to support them on e-commerce or at least visit if you can!
First on the list is The Bloke, found on Pasadena’s historic (turned meh-shopping center) Lake Avenue. I’ve always described it as the LA equivalent of The Armoury, as it’s the main independent retailer that stocks all my favorite menswear brands: Ring Jacket, Drake’s, Alden, and much more. It’s even extra special, since it’s the best way to try on these pieces instead of just taking a chance with an online order. In all honesty, it was the first place I’ve gone to in order to fully try on Drake’s and Ring Jacket.
Now even though The Bloke has the staple brands you’d expect from a great menswear store, the merchandise (and the decorations) are all done through founder Jeffery Plansker’s unique POV, which blends jazz, mod, ivy, and a proper dose of Anglophilia all in one. Jeffrey and James, his store manager, are always curating the space and look for new pieces to feature, making it worth revisiting each time. They’ve been a great springboard for Magill LA, a neo-prep brand that is much more tasteful/understated than Rowing Blazers or even acted as a retail space for 2120 Handcrafted.
And even if you’re not in the market for great tailoring, drool-worthy watches, or some of the best shoes around, they’ve also got a great stock of menswear mags (WM Brown, The Rake, Vintage Life) and an insane record collection, stocked by Groove Merchants. If you ask nicely, the Bloke boys will be happy to play you something you want to hear!
And let’s not forget that they host events semi-regularly. If you’re familiar with my blog, you know that I’ve been there loads of times, from their Holiday Parties to the occasional Drake’s trunk show, as The Bloke really is the center for classic menswear in this town. Menswear people around LA typically show up, bringing the enthusiast community and the industry together, hopefully making strides in turning LA into a viable place for classic clothing.
Wellema Hat Co.
A few miles north of The Bloke lies The Wellema Hat Co. I’ve written about Cody before and featured him on my podcast, but its always a pleasure to visit. Before he got super popular and swamped with orders (and regular trunk shows outside the state/country), I used to come by every weekend and shoot for his social media and even shoot the shit. He’s a great friend of mine!
Cody Wellema is a true artisan and one visit to his store shows that. He makes all of his felt and straw hats by hand, which you can see in action right behind the counter. The process for one of his hats is completely bespoke and not unlike getting a tailored suit: you get measured (sometimes with a conformateur for an accurate shape), you pick your fabric and trim, and you decide it’s shape and dimensions.
I consider him the absolute best hat maker in the world because he’s able to do anything a client can ask for, whether it’s a period accurate fedora or something workwear, with indigo ribbons and distressing. Many of my friends and colleagues have hats made by him, cut from exquisite beaver felt, and all with varying styles suited to their personal taste. It’s no surprise that the waiting time is nearly five weeks due to an extensive waiting list and wholesale clients around the world!
In addition to crafting beautiful hats (of which I’ve been blessed to own), he also happens to have created a beautiful shop. It has a classic, masculine feel, evoking his artisan nature with a great eye for design. A big front window lets in a plethora of natural light in, negating the need to turn on the lights. I also especially love that you could see his collection of vintage hat blocks in the back! The shop really feels like you’ve stepped into an old 1930’s hatters, just with music played on Spotify and the ability to pay on a mobile device.
I suggest only visiting Cody if you’re really planning on commissioning a bespoke hat (since he is very busy) but definitely send him a message if you have any questions regarding the process or the materials. And when you’re done, check out his own collection of menswear books (some of which I don’t even own) and his small stock of RTW items from Bryceland’s (of which he is one of the only stockists), like shirts and Sevenfold ties.
Don’t forget to check out McGintys Gallery in the same plaza; it’s an art gallery that also has a great collection of vintage menswear! I pop in every now and again just to see what’s new. My friends The Gooch Brothers have found a few great things when they’ve visited.
Monsivais & Co.
Like Cody, Damian Monsivais is a hatmaker, though his hat of choice is the classic newsboy cap rather than a fedora. I’ve known Damian for a few years, from back when I was wearing only period accurate clothing and so it’s been great seem transition from a hobbyist capmaker into a full fledged business owner with a brick-and-morter location. His workshop/storefront lies in Figueroa in Cypress Park, a stones throw away from DTLA.
I haven’t been to his store in little while (mainly because I don’t hang out in that part of town very often), but I have been fortunate to photograph it when I have visited; I’ve also been lucky to catch up with him at events like Inspiration LA. While Damian’s place has a lot in common with Cody’s, what sets his apart was initially the simultaneous focus on selling vintage clothing. Damian is an expert picker and he had quite a bit of vintage and reproduction pieces (both tailoring and workwear) that he sold on Etsy and his storefront.
While Damian’s caps have been the main focus of his business (both custom and RTW), he has since added a new venture: reproductions. Now you can find vintage-inspired workshirts, vests, and epic Cossacks and Chimayo jackets hanging around his store. He’s constantly developing new pieces, made right into the store, which I’m always excited to see. If he ever makes a reproduction of that L.L Bean hunting vest-jacket, I’ll be his first customer.
Paper Moon Vintage
After I started wearing contemporary tailoring instead of strictly 1930s-1940s suits, I stopped going to many vintage stores in LA. However, a few of them still hold a dear place in my heart as they helped me become who I am today! That and apparently, curated vintage stores (especially for tailoring) is a foreign concept to some people who read the blog.
Paper Moon Vintage was that first “vintage store” to me. It literally is a treasure trove of vintage tailoring, mainly because most LA vintage dealers are focused on workwear/milsurp (which we will get into later). Women’s wear is their bread-and-butter, but you can find 1950’s bold look suits mixed in with 1930’s drape cut pieces and tuxedos, as well as a hearty selection of trousers, short jackets, and sportcoats. perusing the collections and speaking with Nicole (the owner) was one of the main ways I got to differentiate the details of certain eras. She posts her latest finds often on IG and even new pieces in on a regular basis. Everything is well organized, in great condition, and reasonably priced!
Whenever I go in now, I tend to look more for sportshirts and neckties (instead of full tailoring), which there are always a good selection. I definitely recommend this store for those of you who who want more of a period accurate look or if you want some accessories. Paper Moon’s location on Hollywood Blvd. in Los Feliz makes it a prime spot for visiting and walking around, as there are other great stores in the area. Be sure to visit Starday Vintage as well, since it’s right across the street! It’s a little bit newer with similar (yet obviously different) stock!
Joyride Vintage in Orange County is worth the drive, not just because it’s close to where Spencer lives, but because it really is an amazing store. It’s a bit like the Paper Moon of OC but bigger and focused solely on vintage menswear!
The store really takes you by surprise by how expansive it is, being larger than any of the shops I mentioned previously. Vintage accoutrements like advertisements and antiques help set that same rugged ambiance posited by Monsivais and Wellema, this time to help sell their expansive collection of menswear. Unlike Paper Moon which strictly focuses on 1920s-1950s clothing, Joyride does it all.
You can expect to find 1940’s suits and 1930’s spearpoints along with 1970’s flared cords, sawtooths, and 1960’s workwear jackets! There’s something for everyone here; Spencer has continued to shop there despite his shift in taste over the years. The same can be said for me, as I started out buying suits from them, which gradually changed to military chinos and LVC jeans. In addition to that, I’ve also purchased vintage-styled rings from them, whom they retail for a local artisan.
Like many of the other shop owners, Rob is a wealth of knowledge and I’ve actually learned a lot about workwear and milstrup from him (back when I was still a noob). He still sources from many places and has even pulled some stuff for me to check out before it hits the floor! With it’s broad scope of vintage, it really is one of the best vintage stores I’ve ever been to. And it’s incredibly affordable!
Now the store is located in the Old Towne Orange district, which like Paper Moon, is surrounded by some great places to check out if you’re already in the area! MMD is right next door, with it’s limited selection of menswear (but much more odds-and-ends), but the hidden gem is Country Road Antiques right across the street. That antique mall is full of stalls of fun little knicknacks, but there is one that always has something cool. I can’t recall the stall number or the name of the “store”, but it has that “Inspiration LA” vibe, carrying vintage hunting jackets, workwear shirts, and denims! There are also a few other antique malls within walking distance, like the Orange Circle Antique Mall, that is also worth a looksy!
Speaking of things far away, Sid Mashburn is up next. Located in Brentwood (the west side), about 30 minutes away from Beverly Hills, this store is a great one to go see. Unlike The Bloke (or The Armoury) which is a retailer of other maker’s products, Sid is mainly private label, with a few collaborations. I always like to think of it as a “younger” version of Ralph Lauren in that sense.
It’s all American stuff, with a slightly more tailored focus. Soft checked sportcoats, nice spread collars, Italian made tassels, and fun ties abound. I haven’t purchased anything there myself, but my friend Ryan certainly does: he’s gotten a custom suit there, along with many of his shirts. According to a recent text, Ryan just made the jump and purchased a Black Tie rig! It really is a a place to get tricked out for your entire classic menswear wardrobe once you’ve graduated from the likes of Suit Supply and J. Crew, which I’ve always felt is a bit too trendy and mall-chic in terms of their tailoring.
Again, I haven’t had the fortune of purchasing anything from them yet, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying when I visit with Ryan. It’s decorated well, with a sense of fun and American charm, which is exactly what you’d expect after watching this video. It feels like you’re visiting a part of Sid’s house, especially since the staff are extremely friendly and has a great playlist ready to go.
The store is truly a charming little place that echoes why the Sid Mashburn brand (and the person) is great and well-known. If I recall correctly, on Blamo!, Sid said that he chose LA as his next store (instead of NYC) because it just felt right. And I’d have to agree! since it’s a true gem of classic menswear in a city known for being very casual!
I can’t really recall there being many bespoke tailors in the LA area and if there are, they probably serve a different clientele than what classic menswear enthusiasts tend to be (by that I mean they make custom suits for movie stars). However, tucked away from the big designers of Rodeo Drive lies my alma matter: Ascot Chang.
For those of you who don’t know, Ascot Chang is a nearly 70 year old family-owned bespoke firm that has been lauded by the menswear community the world over. They’re most famous for their bespoke shirts, which are truly the best in the world. It’s not MTM; when ordering (there is as mimimum), you get a measurements, a fitting, and your choice of details. There is a list of customizations to pick from, but if you’re keen and know what you want, you can definitely design something. I’ve done it when I created by bespoke spearpoint collar shirts! Starting at about $280, a bespoke shirt isn’t much more than a RTW shirt at some other places. It’s worth the investment.
The factory is located in Hong Kong, but they’ve got a special communication process that allows them to do bespoke despite having stores in China, LA, and NYC. They also make bespoke suits, which like their shirts, can be made to your taste as long as you can describe and explain exactly what you are looking for. And starting at $2500 for a suit, it’s still a wonder why anyone in LA buys RTW (which can be double that from one of the big designers).
The LA store is on the corner of Rodeo & Wilshire, just a few steps away from Louis Vuitton and Canali. It’s on the small side, similar to the size of The Wellema Hat Co. However, that’s all you need, considering one wall is made up entirely of shirting cloth books. I tend to prefer their vintage oxford fabric, but there are hundreds to choose from, whether it’s their house books or something from Thomas Mason or Alumo; suiting cloth is from Holland & Sherry, VBC, and Loro Piana to name a few.
It’s worth a stop if you want to experience what it’s like to get a bespoke shirt and certainly even more if you opt to commission something. Like with Wellema and Monsivais, it makes me happy to know that there is still artisanal classic menswear being sold here in LA.
Let’s bring it back to vintage clothing with Raggedy Threads, which has become one of my favorites as I’ve gotten into vintage milsurp and workwear. It’s located in Little Tokyo, which makes it an important stop if you’re simply going around visitable places in LA. I make sure I come in every once in a while when I hang out with my weeb friends in the area.
The store is similar in vibe to Joyride in that it has that same rugged, Americana feel. The space is smaller, but Jaime (the owner) utilizes it well, decorating it with some of the coolest things I have ever seen; just the collection of Buddy Lee dolls is insane.
As the vibe suggests, you’ll mainly see the more rugged side of vintage menswear, mainly in the form of jeans, chinos, military jackets, chore coats, and sportshirts. It’s a bit more curated toward the rare stuff (which has more general appeal) so it’s a bit higher in price compared to Paper Moon or Joyride. That’s completely worth it, as I’ve seen pieces here that I had only seen from dealers at Inspiration LA. This makes sense as Jamie hosts an Inspiration shindig each year and she knows many of the dealers and pickers.
I’ve bought a few things here, like my navy gurkha shorts, but this is Spencer’s favorite place to go, being the shop where he copped a vintage Lee denim chore coat that is so beautifully distressed. Even our pals Doug and the Gooch Brothers have shopped there so much that they’ve become really great friends with the owner. If you aren’t able to go to Inspiration LA or don’t feel like picking at a flea market, you’ve gotta check it out.
And then go get ramen and sing some karaoke right after.
RRL is a shop that you have to check out, even if you can’t afford anything they have. If you recall from our Ralph Lauren pod, RRL is the sub brand that focuses on more straight forward Americana, with many pieces being reproductions or reinterpretations of vintage menswear. You can’t find that stuff in a typical RL store here in LA (and I don’t think they’re worth visiting anyway), so I believe the journey to Melrose (and it’s god awful street parking) to check out.
The store is made out of an old garage and (yet again) has that rugged vintage feel. The “curated vintage store with wood and random shit” is absolutely a meme that RRL has amplified. Some of it is vintage and others are made by RL to evoke that same sentiment.
It’s nice to go just to see the amazingness of Ralph Lauren that isn’t the typical Polo or Purple Label. Their vintage workwear suits are probably my favorite to go see (and try on), though everything in the store is great. I particularly love when they use indigo, whether its done on a shirt, a scarf, or even a suiting cloth, since it’s not common to find vintage versions of it; obtaining new interpretations of old things is the main reason why I like contemporary clothing.
Like with Sid, I don’t shop there often, but I’ve been around people who have and enjoy it. Because of the vibe and commanding sense of brand, I’ve included it as a must on this list. It really is a joy to see what the folks over at Ralph cook up each season, even if I literally can’t afford it.
Don’t forget to check out Mister Freedom (a 20 minute drive away) for a very similar vibe in an even bigger store!
And lastly, we have one of the biggest reasons to check out LA: flea markets. They’re the absolute best place to go for most of my casual wear and if you’re lucky (with a keen eye), you’ll be able to get that RRL vibe with actual vintage for an affordable price. I’ve actually only started going to flea markets two years ago, but I’ve amplified my visits considerably as my style has evolved.
The Rose Bowl Flea Market (every 2nd Sunday of the month) is the absolute best, because it’s the biggest in the nation. Vendors and pickers from all over the world show up here to sell, with a few being extremely curated. While it’s a great opportunity to buy from seasoned people (like our pal Garret at Western Gifts), I prefer hunting from the less intense stalls, mainly because I like the thrill of finding something that others neglected to pick. There are a lot more regular people selling (some having random piles or clothes on racks) which makes it extremely fun and energizing to look through. Just make sure you go to the white area across the river; that’s where all the good stuff is!
You could literally spend all day there (9AM-3PM), so it’s best to go with friends. There are many times where I’ve bought something that MJ or Spencer had found for me randomly!
Vintage sack jackets are a rarity, so don’t try looking for it. I mainly use the flea market to find vintage short jackets, sportshirts, sweaters, chinos, and accessories like Rings; it’s the place I’ve gotten my red chore jacket, Lee denim jacket, and my WWII khakis. If anything, the price of the ticket is worth it just to get a well worn blue chore coat, as they’re sold by practically everyone. And even if you aren’t in the market for clothes, there are so many other things you can buy like furniture, rugs, vintage cameras, or old Star Wars action figures.
Other than the Rose Bowl, you can also check out Melrose Trading Post (a bit more hipster LA), Pasadena City College (more local, home-y), or Long Beach. There’s also Zebulon Bazaar, hosted by Western Gifts, that I’ve had quite some luck with. MJ got his LL Bean jacket there and I got the orange jacket that jump started my 1930’s ski wear obsession!
And in general, be sure to check out local thrift stores or second-hand stores like Second Street (in Pasadena and Costa Mesa), Buffalo Exchange, and Wasteland.
The crowds of Rodeo Drive really shows you what drives fashion in LA: designer brands. To them, if it’s not Ralph Lauren, Tom Ford, or Hugo Boss, Angelinos won’t wear it. I’m definitely exaggerating, but there is some truth to that, at least in terms of tailoring and classic menswear here in SoCal. Plus, LA is just a casual city with a big street wear presence, so perhaps that’s a reason why places like NYC, Tokyo, and London have all the menswear brands. However, there are certainly little gems of hope, if you know where to find it.
The fact is that there are quite a few classic/vintage menswear spots that are worth a visit. They are few and far between (many of these rare over an hour away from each other, but I thought that they deserve recognition! Even if I don’t buy something there each time I go, I love visiting and sharing the their interpretation with you guys. It just goes to show that life here isn’t always in streetwear.
Again, it may not be as flashy as visiting Saville Row and Jermyn Street or even TriBeCa and Crosby St., but it’s close enough! And the fact that they’ve survived is a testament to the die-hard menswear guys here in SoCal. You won’t have to depend on simply a trunk show (as Anderson & Sheppard or PJT do) in order to get your fix. If not for places like the Bloke or Ascot Chang, I would never know what it’s like to try on Drake’s or get bespoke tailoring!
I’m sure there are plenty more stores that are interesting that deserve to be on this list, but so far these are the ones I wholeheartedly recommend and come from a place of genuine enjoyment. As I get familiar with more stores (to the same point of authenticity), I’ll add them here! Don’t worry, my journey is never over.
Always a pleasure,
Hi Ethan, this is a little bit off topic but could you please help direct me towards where the best place is to buy Japanese magazines like Lightning, Clutch and Mens File? Also ones like Hotdog, Free and Easy, Popeye etc.
Vintage ones eBay, but new ones I bought either in Japan or my local japanese book store Kinokuniya in Little Tokyo! They’re also able to order things I want.
You’ll want to come check out my new showroom when this whole virus thing is over!