As it wiggles its way southeastward from Hollywood to downtown L.A. (DTLA, as it’s now known here), Sunset Boulevard is a shambolic stretch of strip malls, fast food joints, auto repair shops and some of the best indie and local label shopping in the city. As store rents skyrocket in more established, expensive districts, and a youth quake of American urban emigrants swarm to Silver Lake and Echo Park, the area has seen the arrival of several international luxury brands in what was once a funky homegrown retail scene.
In a single block, there is now an outpost of the Australian body care company Aesop, a Shinola store, a nowhere-near-the-ocean branch of the high-end Mollusk Surf Shop, and an architecturally sleek APC store (pictured above) featuring a curated selection of the French denim company’s men’s and women’s clothing. Earlier this month, the Milanese eyewear company Retrosuperfuture opened its second U.S. retail shop (pictured below) next to APC, where it will launch Carhartt WIP, a collaboration with the famed work wear company.
The influx of these bigger brands seems to signal a change in the neighborhood landscape—even Ludo LeFebvre is opening a counter service restaurant in the strip mall across the street—which, for better or worse, will likely draw more locals and visitors to the area. Along with these newbies, here are some classic Sunset Blvd. highlights worth checking out.
- The Vista Theater, a 1923 Egyptian Deco movie palace with a 50-foot screen and enough legroom for an L.A. Laker.
- Akbar, Silver Lake’s neighborhood pansexual rock and roll cocktail lounge.
- Los Angeles County Store, the great gift shop you read about here first.
- Sunset Junction, A stroll-able strip of restaurants, vegan cafes, clothing and shoe stores, including the cocktail supply store Bar Keeper and an authentically musty army surplus store.
- Sunset and Micheltorena are home to hip handbag boutique Clare V., the 1980s-inspired jewelry and home décor store Dream Collective, Franky’s, a barbershop with vintage vinyl and clothing, and killer Thai food at Night + Market Song. Hit Hache for a frozen custard dessert before you make your way home.
David A. Keeps is on the Los Angeles beat for Travel + Leisure. The host of Ovation TV's "Art and The City," he writes regularly about travel and design. Follow him on Twitter at @davidkeeps and Instagram at @davidkeepsinsta.