Right now,” says Henry Shea, “Los Angeles is the shopping capital of the world.” When the Stockton native decided to start a regional magazine aimed at shopping, New York and San Francisco were on the short list of launch points, but Shea debuted with the obvious choice.
Shea, who unveiled the small-format glossy, Shop Lift, this spring, says L.A. “has come into its own in the last couple years.” He cites the excitement generated by breakout labels such as Ella Moss, Corey Lynn Calter, LOYANDFORD and Louis Verdad, as well as more established labels. “Not only in the American market, the C&Cs; and the Juicys and Seven [Jeans] are having a huge influence in Europe as well. It’s almost become cult-like in Europe and Japan.” He also points to the success of L.A.'s Fashion Week, and the arrival of Stella McCartney and Sigerson Morrison emporiums.
The idea of Shop Lift’s quirky graphics and Skittles-color palette, Shea says, was to get stylish locals out of their home ZIP codes in search of that singular find. “In New York it’s more about keeping up with the Joneses. It’s more of a treasure hunt out here,” he says. L.A. women “love to find something that somebody else doesn’t have and no one else can get. Here they don’t play the fashion victim as much. It makes it a lot more colorful.” The fall issue spotlights Koreatown’s burgeoning shopping scene, the vendor at the monthly Santa Monica Outdoor Antique Market who sells “wonderful vintage shoes,” and a jewelry boutique in Topanga Canyon.
Shortly after graduating from USC in the early ‘80s, Shea started a chain of 10 college alternative newspapers that he sold a few years later. He next founded and sold Exposure, an oversized pop culture mag. More recently he has produced feature-length indie films, including “The Amati Girls” and “Starstruck.”
Shea plans versions of Shop Lift for New York and San Francisco and concedes there will be a shared cover, but insists he’s not moving into the niche occupied by Lucky, Conde Nast’s national “magalog.” “I would think 90% will be tailored for that city.” We can only hope. Koreatown or Topanga is one thing when you’re breaking out of your ZIP code. But Soho is outta the way.