Come take a trip with us around Los Angeles as we hit our five favorite vintage shops!
From the east to the west side, down to the South Bay and back up through the canyons, LA is full of beautifully curated vintage stores. Whether you are searching for a rare pair of leather ankle boots or a simple cotton summer dress, I am fairly (definitely) certain you will have luck in the City of Angels. In LA it’s not just about shopping out of necessity. The rich history of the music, fashion and entertainment industry, from Hollywood to Venice Beach, makes vintage shopping here just plain fun. I always like to think of where the piece came from before it became my own … maybe this was once Joni’s and she wore it when she was hanging out in Laurel Canyon and singing about California. Oh, my black sequined top? Perhaps it was once owned by the wife of a TV mogul in the ’80s. Definitely silly things to think, yes, but it’s just one of the many reasons I am enamored with vintage — the history behind it, the possible story it may hold before it took up residence in my closet.
Because I don’t know much about vintage, but am rather a big, huge… humongous fan, I enlisted the help of West Coast stylist, Cory Madley, to help narrow down the top five stores in LA to buy vintage. Cory has worked with Free People for numerous years now and has styled countless shoots: Out of the Blue, In the Groove, and Going Home to name a few. I am like a kid in a candy store around her — I’m always trying to photograph her because she is constantly in the coolest vintage pieces. She’ll throw her head back, her gorgeous windswept red hair falls behind her, and just laughs ever so cooly. “Oh, Joanna,” she says. She is filled to the brim with fashion knowledge and has an eye for style I can only describe as supreme. Not to mention, this California native is as laid back and humble as they come. So keep scrolling to read our top five favorite vintage stores in LA and an exclusive interview with vintage and style muse, Cory.
Avalon Vintage and Records: 106 North Ave 56 Highland Park, Los Angeles
This east side shop holds some of the best vintage merchandise in Los Angeles. And how could it not? It is curated and owned by international style icon, Carmen Hawk. You may recognize her from years on the runway or as a former design partner of Milla Jovovich. Her shop oozes cool. You know, like the real, authentic cool. During my last trip, I ended up leaving with vintage Wrangler cutoffs, a(nother) Joni Mitchell record and a rare edition of “Smile” by The Beach Boys on vinyl. But to be honest, I wanted to leave with a flat bed worth of, well, everything. When asked to name her number one vintage shop in LA, Cory quickly answered. “My favorite shop is Avalon- she has an incredible assortment from every era. I have found so many gorgeous pieces there. I bought an amazing beaded 1920s flapper dress there recently- it’s falling apart in the most beautiful way. I have it hanging on the wall in my office.” (The top and following three photos are of Avalon.)
Tavin Boutique: 1543 Echo Park Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90026
Tavin is one of Cory’s favorite shops for rare pieces so I couldn’t wait to check out the place for myself. The shop is romantic and bohemian, specializing in jaw-dropping merchandise from the 60s and 70s. Gorgeous lace from the Victorian era are carefully curated and I can only think of how to immediately infuse the pieces into my current wardrobe. Tavin has been in Echo Park since 2009 and “represents a woman who easily identifies with Laurel Canyon/Morocco and the Parisian Gypsy in all of us.” Sign me up, s’il vous plait!
Foxhole: 3318 W Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026
Foxhole had me at hello. “We are road trip treasures… we are flea market finds… and we find beauty in things that others quite often overlook. We also make one of a kind pieces out of vintage and recycled denim.” Um, yes please. Foxhole is situated on an unassuming block of Sunset Blvd. in the Silverlake neighborhood. It’s a smaller shop but, man, does it pack a heavy punch. They have a nice selection of vintage tees, jackets, and accessories but this is the shop for denim. I dare you to go in there and escape empty handed. I tried and it was a grand failure. I ended up leaving with a pair of vintage Levis that Jeff (the shop owner with his girlfriend, Fox) was going to stitch my initials on to. Be sure to check this place out — Foxhole is definitely a shop to keep your eye on. (The following four photos are of Foxhole.)
Mister Freedom: 7161 Beverly Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90036
If there is one store that provides endless amounts of inspiration, it’s Mister Freedom. The shop is full of vintage clothing, footwear, accessories, rare textiles, books and other home decor dating back to the 1850s. The tropical colonial wear, outdoor plaids and canvases, vintage yachting merchandise, early explorer’s items, and real indigo vat dyed goods are some of my favorites. “This extensive eclectic collection of vintage items is collected around the world and updated daily with new finds.”
Shareen Vintage: 1721 N. Spring St. Los Angeles, CA 90012
This warehouse that sits on the outskirts of Downtown LA, just passed Chinatown, is what started my obsession with LA vintage. Shareen lives in an almost unnamed huge industrial building. Most people drive right on by without ever knowing about the wildly obscene amount of rare and beautiful vintage pieces that are hanging up inside. They have a strict “no boys” policy making this the perfect girls getaway. (They also have bowls of candy all over the warehouse… again, perfect girls getaway.) There are so many racks of clothes in there that you are bound to leave with something. And something good. Even if I am not in the mood to shop, I love to peruse Shareen for an inspirational pick me up. But I mean, let’s be honest, as hard as I try, I usually end up leaving with something.
And now a few words from Cory!
How long have you been in the fashion industry? What is your history?
I started my jewelry line straight out of college and opened a shop in Venice a few years later. I have always been obsessed with vintage- the history/ fantasy factor and the rush of finding a treasure. Everything in my shop was vintage or made from vintage materials. I started styling photoshoots with my own designs and fell in love with creating an image. I closed my store, packed up my goodies, and moved east to work for Free People.
How long have you lived in California? Where are you originally from?
I was born in Venice and when I was three my family moved up north to live in a log cabin with no electricity. In elementary school we moved back to Los Angeles, but I was deeply influenced by the rustic lifestyle I experienced early on. I moved to the East Coast for college where I attended the Rhode Island School of Design and later to London to attend Central St. Martins. I am so glad I experienced the east and urban living, but I am a California girl at heart.
Who are some of your favorite fashion muses? Why?
Too many to count! I love Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, Patti Smith, and David Bowie for classic style and Florence Welch for a contemporary muse. I am very inspired by musicians and how they invent and re-invent their identity through fashion.
Which shop has the best deals?
I would say that flea markets in Los Angeles are some of the best I have ever been to. I love how each vendor edits their racks and seeing what they are drawn to.
Which shop is best for rare finds?
Tavin has a nice assortment of victorian lace pieces in great condition and Indian cotton dresses. I love Foxhole for denim and Avalon for something unexpected.
You mentioned the direction vintage may be going with the influx of Etsy and other digital platforms — have you found yourself buying more from online or do you prefer the brick and mortar shops?
I do prefer to try things on- especially when the fit can vary so much. Etsy has become an amazing resource- especially for home décor and jewelry. I spend hours looking up everything from opal jewelry to pajama sets.
You know I think you have the coolest style, always with rad pieces of vintage mixed in — how would you describe your own personal style?
I am drawn to items that have a little drama- I love color, pattern, and a cool sleeve detail. I would describe my style as Southwestern witchy with a little hippie thrown in.
Do you think vintage shops differ city to city? What are your favorite cities to shop vintage in?
Yes, vintage shops are different in each city- New York has a more sophisticated feel in their shops. I love Narnia in Brooklyn for ethnic treasures. Vintage shopping in Portland and San Francisco are also incredible- for some reason they have the best variety.
How would you describe L.A. vintage?
LA style is very eclectic – depending on what part of town you are in, style can be very clean and chic, or beachy and casual. I live in Venice where the style is refined bohemian with a 70s twist.
What do you look for in vintage pieces?
I always look at the fabric quality- steering clear of polyester, when possible. I am a sucker for great prints and I love something cut on the bias. I also have a pretty massive fringe jacket collection — you can never have too many!
+ Hey Angelenos, what shops would you put on this list? Living in a different city? What’s your favorite local vintage shop? I would love to check them out online!
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