It is hard to disregard the lack of retail shops in the Arts District. In the past year, several eateries — The Federal, Phil’s Diner — opened, creating a stronger nightlife presence in the eccentric neighborhood. But the number of retail shops selling clothing, home goods, or other items remains dismal.
Affluent adjacent communities like Studio City and Sherman Oaks have a bevy of retail stores and garner increased street traffic. The district won’t gain popular chain stores anytime soon (and it wouldn’t fit in with the artistic neighborhood), but a vintage shop reopening its store is a positive sign. , once a neighborhood fixture, closed its doors last year during a renovation. Last month, it reopened its shop on Magnolia Boulevard, steps away from another vintage store: .
The space is small, but houses a unique selection of men’s and women’s attire and accessories — standing out against other shops on Magnolia that only sell items for women. There is certainly a want and need for it, as male actors and performers in the community use clothing from different eras to represent characters they are playing. Top hats, fedoras, leather oxfords, and pinstriped suits line the men’s side of the shop, while floral dresses, plaid school girl skirts, and crisp white button-down shirts line the women’s side. There is an order to the organization of the store — ankle-length pattered skirts are grouped together, as are neutral-colored collared shirts. This organization instinctively alerts customers of trends.
On a recent weekend, the owner greeted everyone warmly and encouraged patrons to dig through the racks to find an item of their taste. The attire was seasonal, which is rare to find at a vintage store. Many shops consistently pile in as many clothes as possible from every era and season: thick, wool blazers in the middle of July and silk rompers in January. The items at Kathy’s appear meticulously hand-selected and appropriate for the middle of summer: lightweight cotton skirts, tropical-print dresses, wide-brim straw hats.
August is a particularly confusing time for fashion in Southern California. The department stores and retail chains begin to receive their shipments of fall items, yet none of it is wearable until November. Independent vintage shops can control what to display and when, and the right ones mix practicality with novelty. This is what Kathy’s excels at — displaying summer dresses and skirts amid equestrian riding hats and velour evening gowns. For the indecisive customer, the shop’s presentation tells you what you should consider wearing. A row of white and cream-colored trousers is reminiscent of Ingrid Bergman’s refined wardrobe in Casablanca. It’s probably not what will arrive in shopping centers and nearby malls over the next month, but that’s a good thing.
Kathy's E. Boutique is located at 11054 Magnolia Blvd.
See Patch reviews of other vintage stores in the area:
- in Studio City
- in North Hollywood