In Los Angeles, you can never be too rich or too thin, and neither can your T-shirt. What began as a Fred Segal fashion gag—ripped and torn, beglittered and bejeweled $100 jerseys—has become an intensely competitive retail industry, with four main players. • Lo-Fi (1038 N. Fairfax Ave.; 323/654-5634) stands head and narrow shoulders above the rest with what one of its proprietors, DJ Kelly Cole, calls "meticulously selected rock-and-roll lifestyle clothing with the right amount of wear but no damage." (Translation: a rare Ziggy Stardust T-shirt tagged at $1,000.) After two successful years in L.A., Lo-Fi is rolling out both a Manhattan outpost and its own line of slim-fit basics for 2005. • American Apparel (, the sweatshop-free manufacturer of skinny, sexy knitwear, has debuted four Community Store & Gallery locations in the city, all of which stay open later than most restaurants. • On Melrose Avenue, where vintage tees rule, Bluedemon (7625 Melrose Ave.; 323/653-5603) provides a world of choices, including deconstructed English imports and made-in-L.A. printed T-shirts by Evil Genius and Altru. Lines like Naco and Bluedemon's own Juan Miguel take the tee on a spin into Mexican low-rider turf. • If none of these options seems quite individual enough, visit Matrushka Construction (3528 W. Sunset Blvd.; 323/665-4513; on one of its T-shirt nights, when you can mix fabrics and add patches to custom pieces with a cocktail in hand.
—David A. Keeps