American legacy look
"There was a time when American clothing was made in America," says Paradise, a former fashion director for North Beach Leather who dresses like a 1930s swell. He revived the Stronghold label, a Los Angeles blue jeans manufacturer from 1895 until World War II. The store also stocks classic goods such as Pendleton blankets, Stetson hats, White's boots (a Spokane, Wash., cobbler since 1898) and Filson "tincloth" jackets.
On a recent Saturday afternoon, Chrisso Collins, the 28-year-old Australian designer of Parballe, a T-shirt line produced with bullet holes in it, dropped into the Stronghold, trying on a pair of $335 herringbone denim jeans. Bryan Ray Turcotte, a 39-year-old music supervisor for the film industry, rolled in with his wife and their 1-year-old son, Ford, who was wearing vintage Levi's with a hefty cuff.
"I've been collecting denim for 20 years, since I was a teenager picking through vintage clothes at American Rag warehouse," says the bearded Turcotte. "I've been through everything, gabardines and wing tips, but this style just makes sense."
He slipped his son into a pair of tiny railroad stripe coveralls priced at $285.
"I try to dress him like a kid," he says, fighting the impulse to buy the outfit — for now. "But don't these suit him?"
HOW THE WEST GETS DRESSED
The antique Western look has already its share of homegrown outfitters:
At Topo Ranch General Store, Alex Kump offers L.A. casual wear with a Western swing: snap front cowboy shirts and cattleman pants (both $88) and T-shirts imprinted with steers, bucking broncos and shooting irons ($24). Topo Ranch General Store, 1219 Abbot Kinney Blvd.; (310) 270-8140.
At The Stronghold, things are decidedly more serious. Decked out with antique furnishings, bordello-style floral carpeting and a Sears Silvertone wind-up phonograph, the store taps into the Angeleno denim fetish. It also has the barber shop classic after-shave Bay Rum, along with vintage eye wear, timepieces, ties, bags and historic brands and products. The Stronghold, 1625 Abbott Kinney Blvd.; (310) 399-7221.
Signature pieces of the look — vests, old-school denim, farm-boy suspenders, belts and boots — can also be found at well-stocked vintage stores including:
American Rag, 150 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 935-3154.
La Bamba, 2222 E. 4th Street, Long Beach; (562) 433-9112.
Kowboyz, 8050 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; (323) 653-6444.
Vintage Western Wear, Internet only, http://www.vintagewesternwear.com .
— David Keeps