Look what's in store
Block after block, a wealth of cool treasures awaits discovery by sophisticates and bargain hunters alike.
Woven Guatemalan bangles are $5 each at Kukuly's, 915 S. Santee St. (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times / July 30, 2010)
Bunkado Inc., 340 E. 1st St. Ninja dolls, feather-light parasols, stationery, origami. If you can't find a gift or tchotcke for the lover of Japanese culture in your life, you're just not looking. Robot and hula girl greeting cards, $3.50 each; boiled-wool baby booties, $14.95.
Cinema Fashion, 220 E. 9th St. Clothing and accessories so sophisticated, you won't believe they came from a place right off Santee Alley. Bow front shorts by Peppermint, $29; cropped peach top by Piko, $35; 1988 reptile print wood frame clutch, $35; brass bead ribbon necklace, $29.
Dalsol Orchid Warehouse, 766 S. San Julian St. Located in the heart of the Flower District at 7th and San Julian, Dalsol offers an array of chic flower arrangements with its multi-hued orchids and antique touches. Arrangements from $25 to $200.
Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising Scholarship Store, 919 S. Grand St. Men's and women's clothing and accessories donated by local manufacturers and sold at bargain-basement prices to benefit the school's scholarship fund. Dove gray Swiss dot cami, $1.
Flea, 548 S.Spring St., #112. A vintage boutique with a flea market feel, Flea specializes in hats but offers a little bit of everything, from old-school Louis Vuitton luggage to steel tanker desks. There's a lot for men to ponder and paw through, too – including a glass counter full of cufflinks. Vintage African mask cufflinks, $20.
Flock Shop, 943 N. Broadway, Suite 103. Specializes in quirky, independent and artist-made accessories and objets d'art, including men's wallets, women's necklaces and scarves. Ashley Sheehan vintage/recycled men's necktie with robot embroidery, $30; De La Luna Designs floral flask, $30.
International Fashion Publications, 110 E. 9th St. Hands down, the best selection of fashion and style books in Los Angeles, from new releases ("Thierry Mugler") to the hard-to-find ("Maison Martin Margiela: The Exhibition"). Pictured: "California Couture" by Maureen E. Lynn Reilly, $49.95, and "Club Kids: Underground Culture" by Raven Smith, $29.95.
Japanese American National Museum Store, 369 E. 1st St. Clothing, accessories and home décor items so stylish, no one would guess they came from a museum store. Tin bird pins, 40 cents each; metal cuff with vintage kimono fabric, $150.
Kimski Makes, 369 E. 2nd St. A Little Tokyo boutique filled with kicky floral sundresses and breezy blouses alongside a selection of vintage clothing and shoes. Think Urban Outfitters: hip but with a smaller price tag, like the handful of sculptural statement necklaces that were all under $25. Gold link multichain necklace, $17; clear bead and gold circle necklace, $22; silver disk necklace, $24.
Kukuly's, 915 S. Santee St. Colorful, ethnic-inspired handbags and accessories and a smattering of clothing. Woven Guatemalan bangles, $5 each; woven Guatemalan headband, $10.
Noell, 1326 Santee St. A costume designer's secret that's been selling steeply discounted formalwear for 13 years. A wide selection of designer dresses from David Meister and Sue Wong is perfect for proms or mothers of the bride.
Popkiller, 343 E. 2nd St. A Japanese-owned clothing and novelty store full of offbeat finds, such as geek glasses, tabi shoes, inflatable moose heads and "I Love L.A." T-shirts. Red canvas whale bag, $34.
RIF Los Angeles, 334-A E. 2nd St. Although this Japanese-style, consignment-only sneaker shop does the bulk of its business online, it's worth dropping in to eyeball the selection of rare, hard-to-find, and collectible kicks by Adidas, Nike and Vans that stock the store. A prized pair can fetch as much as $5,000. Vintage Nike X Harris Tweed women's sneaker, $120.
Ross Cutlery & Sharpening Services, 310 S. Broadway. You know it for knives, but Ross also happens to be a treasure trove of tonsorial tools: vintage shaving mugs, razor stands, straight razors, new and vintage safety razors, and a sharp selection of hard-to-find razor blades. Vintage rebuilt Gillette safety razor, $54.98; Col. Conk badger bristle shaving brush, $24.98; vintage Old Spice shaving mug, $24.98; Col. Conk Bay Rum shaving soap, $3.98; Feather double-edge razor blades $8.98.
Skingraft, 125 W. 4th St. #102. Don't be cowed by the stuffed zebra head standing guard: The cool kid of the downtown fashion scene has crafted enough capes, trenches, leather jackets, scarves and strappy holster pieces to cover every stripe – as long as it's black, white or gray. Commodore trench coat in gray, $350.
Virgo, 216 E. 9th St. A mix of vintage and new pieces that is right on-trend but won't set you back a bundle. Vintage safari-print skirt, $25; vintage studded white boots, $55; vintage tuxedo jumper, $38.
Vespa of Los Angeles, 301 S. Central Ave. Since opening in November on the border between Little Tokyo and the Arts District, this scooter dealership has encouraged downtown denizens to travel the city by scooter – and in chic European style. From $2,000 to $6,900.