Downtown has always drawn crowds to its diverse and quirky shopping spots. It was, and remains, an alternative to the staid mall experience. In recent years, as revitalization efforts have increased, Downtown has welcomed a bevy of independent designers, high-end boutiques and global brands, making for a vibrant and diverse retail scene.
Even a handful of shopping centers have gotten in on the action: The Bloc is a chic, open-air marketplace with upscale designers, art and trendy eateries. Nearby, the bustling FIGat7th has attracted youthful retailers such as H&M and Zara. Additionally, older corridors like Broadway are seeing modern arrivals such as Urban Outfitters and boutiques including Acne Studios.
The allure of Downtown shopping can be found in its contrast of high-low options, from snagging bargains in the Fashion District to flea market finds in the Arts District. Options abound, so get out there.
Formerly Macy’s Plaza, a complete renovation has reshaped this mall into an easygoing destination anchored by a flagship Macy’s, as well as an open-air marketplace filled with restaurants, upscale shops, showrooms and art. The Alamo Drafthouse movie theater opened in the summer, bringing a bar, arcade and a mix of blockbusters and independent films. In February, a tunnel opened up connecting the mall to the Seventh Street/Metro Center Metro rail station. The Bloc currently has retailers such as Uniqlo, Eli and Ella Rose and Nordstrom Local. 700 S. Flower St., theblocla.com.
The 30-acre Industrial District complex is growing quickly, with both office and retail tenants filling out the space. The shopping center houses home goods shops such as A+R and Tokyobike, along with fashion retailers Erica Tanov, Galerie.LA and dRA. New arrivals come almost every month, and there is a huge outdoor Sunday gathering called Smorgasburg. Additionally, there is plenty of parking. 777 S. Alameda St., rowdtla.com.
A pagoda entryway marks Chinatown’s most popular and historic plaza, where gift shops sell pretty umbrellas, jade keepsakes and silk pajamas. The modern boutique Realm offers an eclectic selection of gifts, ceramics and stationary, while the traditional Gin Ling Gifts is a good spot for Chinese dresses, accessories and other goodies. And yes, you can find paper lanterns. Bordered by Broadway, Hill, Bernard and College streets.
Dynasty Shopping Center
Hidden from street view, this huge indoor swap meet is packed with dozens of stalls selling clothes, toys, luggage, purses and jewelry. There are bargains to be had, especially if you are ready to haggle. Just next door is Chinatown Plaza, a collection of jewelry storefronts. 800 N. Broadway.
H&M, Zara and Target are highlights at this mall, along with a Nordstrom Rack on the ground level. With a plethora of eateries, the 500-seat food court is one of the best places to grab a bite in Downtown. There’s also a weekly farmer’s market, and frequent live music and events to keep shoppers entertained. 735 S. Figueroa St., figat7th.com.
Underneath a pair of office towers is an underground shopping area boasting a flower shop, fitness center, photo shop, dentist and several eateries. 505 S. Flower St., B Level.
Japanese Village Plaza
This outdoor destination is Little Tokyo’s most popular place to shop, dine and stroll. You can browse the gift shops, sample frozen yogurt, visit the market for a selection of Japanese goods, or simply sit and people watch. The First Street entrance is marked by a traditional fire tower. Two-hour parking with validation on Central Avenue between First and Second streets. 335 E. Second St., japanesevillageplaza.net.
Little Tokyo Galleria & Market
This Japanese-oriented shopping mall is anchored by the Market, a full-service grocery store specializing in Asian products and readymade food. There are stores filled with housewares, knickknacks, Hello Kitty items and stationary. Several restaurants will keep you fueled, while the X Lanes bowling alley and arcade provide entertainment. And don’t miss Beard Papa’s cream puffs! Validated parking. 333 S. Alameda St.
St. Vincent Jewelry Center
At 200,000 square feet, this is the largest complex in the Jewelry District with nearly 500 businesses selling every jewel, stone, precious metal and bead imaginable. Prices fit all budgets, with some items up to 80% less than the mall competition. Be ready to bargain. There’s a 250-car parking structure adjacent to the center on Broadway. 640-650 S. Hill St., svjc.com.
Look for the giant friendship knot sculpture that marks this tucked-away Little Tokyo shopping center. There are a handful of restaurants (Orochan Ramen and Curry House), as well as gift shops, boutiques, a bookstore, karaoke and the Marukai Market. 123 Astronaut E. S. Onizuka St.
This massive Arts District shopping and restaurant hub is part of the vibrant residential complex One Santa Fe. Shoppers will find 80,000 square feet of retail with a nice mix of stores, including upscale brands such as Wittmore, The Voyager Shop and Malin+Goetz. Don’t miss the amazing bookstore Hennessy + Ingalls and grab a bite at the grocery store Grow. There’s even the comic book emporium A Shop Called Quest. 300 S. Santa Fe Ave., osfla.com.
3.1 Phillip Lim
The 5,000-square-foot store carries high-end items for men and women from designer Phillip Lim. 734 E. Third St., 31philliplim.com.
Inside the gorgeous Eastern Columbia Building, past the quirky mushroom sculpture, visitors will salivate at the 5,000 square feet of high-end Swedish fashion. The sleek shop offers austere racks of denim, biker jackets, footwear and suits for men and women. Grab some caffeine at the in-house coffee shop. 855 S. Broadway, acnestudios.com.
This shop/gallery includes a Warby Parker showroom with hip sunglasses as well as designer fashion, unique gifts, housewares, vintage items and magazines. 826 E. Third St., alchemyworks.us.
Adding to the hip Ninth Street retail revival, this très chic French label draws followers to its minimalist space for equally minimalist designs. 125 W. Ninth St., apc.fr.
A stylish line of men’s clothing and accessories with a social bent in the Arts District. 806 E. Third St., apolisglobal.com.
L.A. designer Alejandro Rodriguez’s dual-level menswear store in the Rosslyn Hotel features retail on the bottom and a design studio on the mezzanine. Order a drink at the fully stocked whiskey bar. 107 W. Fifth St., beautifulful.com.
This Aussie retailer opened its first U.S. store on the ground floor of the Blackstone Apartments. The minimalist shop sells cult brands of women’s clothing. 901 S. Broadway, us.fashionbunker.com.
This elegant men’s retailer deals in suits, ties, shirts and accessories. They have belts and socks, too. 545 S. Figueroa St., brooksbrothers.com.
This is a high-fashion menswear boutique with a stylish, edgy, modern aesthetic in the heart of the Historic Core. 600 S. Spring St., Studio 105, clademan.com.
The sub-brand of H&M focuses on higher-end items including cardigans, suit pieces and pants. The shop fills the 92-year-old Olympic Theatre. 313 W. Eighth St., cosstores.com.
Dover Street Market
This branch of the London-based boutique holds a massive array of streetwear and high-end fashion. Look for everything from Gucci to Commes de Garcon. 606 Imperial St., losangeles.doverstreetmarket.com.
Brand-name footwear options, plus athletic apparel. The store includes a Nike Kicks Lounge, carrying exclusive items. 749 S. Broadway, footaction.com.
Garcons de Café
The retail half of this wine bar offers high-end clothing and accessories from French designers. 541 S. Spring St., garcons-de-cafe.com.
Gladys Tamez Millinery
This designer and hat maker operates a space near the L.A. River that’s part showroom and part production facility for her spectacular cranial creations. Be sure to make an appointment. 2347 E. Eighth St., gladystamez.com.
Browse 4,000 square feet of designer fashion for men and women. There are also accessories and apothecary products. 912 E. Third St., guerillaatelier.com.
The largest H&M in Southern California, this 32,000-square-foot store at FIGat7th meets all your fast fashion needs with clothing and accessories for men, women and children. Open until 10 p.m. on weekdays. 735 S. Figueroa St., Suite 303, hm.com.
Get bags, phone and laptop cases at this small boutique. 939 S. Broadway, hexbrand.com.
Dubbed “cupcake punk,” this women’s clothing line is fun and colorful. 117 W. Ninth St., jessicalouise.com.
Downtown’s Jordans store has everything from the latest Air Jordans to a rooftop basketball court. 620 S. Broadway.
Find the cutest children’s clothing at this Little Tokyo store, which also sells irresistible toys and accessories. 131 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, monkeypantsla.com.
German brand Mykita offers high-end eyewear (made from stainless steel and acetate) on the ground floor of the Eastern Columbia Building. 847 S. Broadway, mykita.com/en.
1 Man’s Trash
An outpost for this eponymous clothing brand, the shop also offers hard-to-find vintage gear, shoes and accessories. 655 S. Main St.
This two-story footwear and apparel cube in the Fashion District has sportswear, shoes and more. Don’t be surprised to see people lined up outside for special releases. 862 S. Main St., nicekicks.com.
Discount clothes from some of Nordstrom’s top fashion brands, on the bottom level of the FIGat7th shopping center. 735 S. Figueroa St., nordstromrack.com.
A mix of local and global cult designers awaits at this stylish locale offering women’s clothing, footwear and accessories. 112 W. Ninth St., #1024, pale-violet.com.
Pocket Square Clothing
This Seventh Street space sells clothing and accessories for the modern gentleman, including pocket squares, socks, ties, bowties, bags, shirts and sunglasses. 205 W. Seventh St., pocketsquareclothing.com.
A sneaker consignment store in Little Tokyo with rare names. These shoes are pricey but unique. 334A E. Second St., rif.la.
European made menswear, shoes, accessories and fragrances in the Fashion District. 840 S. Los Angeles St., rnt23.com.
Men’s suits and clothing at moderate prices at this long-running shop. 729 S. Los Angeles St.
Get your favorite athletic shoe brands for men, women and children. 745 S. Broadway, shiekhshoes.com.
The Little Tokyo sneaker spot has all the major brands in a sleek space. 326 E. Second St., shoepalace.com.
Represent your favorite L.A.-based teams with Lakers, Clippers, Sparks and Kings gear at the L.A. Live store. 1111 S. Figueroa St., lalive.com.
The two-story store in The Bloc has formal and casual wear for men and women, and a number of sales throughout the year. 700 W. Seventh St., uniqlo.com.
This chain has set up in the historic Rialto Theatre with two stories of clothing, shoes, home goods and gifts. 810 S. Broadway, urbanoutfitters.com.
Located in the Arts District, you’ll find women’s clothing, jewelry and accessories with a bohemian flair. 209 S. Garey St., ilovewoo.com.
Spanish fashion retailer Zara operates a 27,000-square-foot store at FIGat7th, with clothing for men, women and children. 735 S. Figueroa St., zara.com.
A wide range of skin, body and hair care products from the high-end Australian company are found in a 1,000-square-foot space on Broadway. 862 S. Broadway, aesop.com.
Since 1946 this Little Tokyo standout has sold finely crafted gardening tools, gadgets and knives. There are also beautiful kitchen utensils, carpentry goods, household items and bonsai tools. 309 E. First St.
The design and furniture store A+R has a 7,000-square-foot space in the Arts District and sells tables, sofas, lighting and tech accessories. 777 S. Alameda St., aplusrstore.com.
Everything is $1.50 at this Japanese import. It’s an emporium of cuteness that includes household items, crafts, dishes, beauty supplies, gifts, knickknacks and more. 333 S. Alameda St., #114, daisojapan.com.
Hammer and Spear
This seller of lovely vintage home goods also stocks textiles, apothecary, ceramics and other decor. 255 S. Santa Fe Ave., #101, hammerandspear.com.
Nadia Gellar Designs Market
This Arts District spot offers furniture, pillows, rugs, candles, soaps, jewelry and more. 1308 Factory Place #105, nadiageller.com.
Olde Good Things
Architectural salvage is the name of the game at this fun store, located near the L.A. Trade Tech campus. There is plenty to rummage through, from antique mantles to gorgeous mirrors to lighting and furniture. 1800 S. Grand Ave., ogtstore.com.
Please Do Not Enter
You’ll need an appointment to shop at this luxury boutique/gallery geared to men. Located in the PacMutual building, there are high-tech goodies, sculpture, leather accessories, perfume, toys and much more. 549 S. Olive St., pleasedonotenter.com.
This longtime Downtown shop features 6,000 square feet of knives including blades for chefs, sportsmen, collectors and personal protection. There are countless accessories and gadgets such as scissors, flashlights, trimmers, razors and lighters. 324 S. Broadway, rosscutlery.com.
Caveman Vintage Music
A cool Chinatown shop with a selection of vintage instruments, amps and rare vinyl. 3231 N. Main St., caveman-vintage.com.
Kools Clothing Store
If you love vintage clothing and quirky accessories, this little shop is for you. They restock all the time and you won’t leave empty-handed. 110 Japanese Village Plaza Mall.
This colorful, long-running boutique has a cheeky selection of vintage goodies including heart-shaped sunglasses, “I Heart L.A.” T-shirts, novelty toys and lots of accessories. 343 E. Second St., popkiller.us.
An impressive selection of apparel spanning the decades. 330 E. Second St., raggedythreads.com.
Throwback men’s and women’s apparel and accessories from hipster to couture. 605 Los Angeles St.
A 7,000-square-foot wonderland, including a stunning bridal collection and an original line of vintage-inspired clothing. They’ve got snacks and candy too, but no boys allowed (since ladies try on clothing out in the open). 1721 N. Spring St.
There’s a diverse selection of clothing from vintage to designer at this Historic Core boutique. 600 S. Spring St., Unit R1, sixhundredla.com.
Adding to the growing collection of book purveyors in the Arts District, this space is part of the Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles gallery and focuses primarily on contemporary art and design books. 917 E. Third St., artbook.com.
Little Tokyo’s Bunkado (which means “house of culture”) has been around for 70 years. They’ve got Japanese-themed items ranging from parasols to stationery to intricate dolls. The second floor has a big selection of J-Pop music and a bargain section. 340 E. First St., bunkadoonline.com.
Since 1952, this gift shop has stocked Asian art, antiques, figurines, opera puppets, jewelry and more. It is now in the Best Western Dragon Gate Inn Plaza. 818 N. Hill St., Suite B, fongsla.com.
Hennessey + Ingalls
Peruse 5,000 square feet of books on photography, fashion, cooking, architecture and design from this highly regarded import to the Arts District. 300 S. Santa Fe Ave., hennesseyingalls.com.
This catch-all Little Tokyo shop offers Japanese stationery, pens, washi paper, stickers, music and gifts. Oh yeah, there are books and magazines too. 123 Astronaut E. Onizuka St., kinokuniya.com.
This Historic Core indie store sells old and used books, with an eclectic assortment ranging from cookbooks and sci-fi to fiction and photography. Many titles are less than $10. They’ll also buy your used books and CDs. It’s a great place to spend an hour or two. 453 S. Spring St., lastbookstorela.com.
Shop from this collection of fun and eclectic gifts, goods and curiosities. There are toys, treasures for literary lovers, L.A. souvenirs, bags, magic tricks and, of course, books. Proceeds benefit the library. 630 W. Fifth St., lfla.org.
Made by DWC
Handmade gifts from the women of the Downtown Women’s Center fill this lovely shop and cafe. Proceeds support homeless and low-income women. There are refurbished and vintage pieces, as well as clothing, soy candles and natural soaps, journals, succulents and decoupage art. 438 S. San Pedro St., madebydwc.org.
Inside a colorful warehouse you’ll discover beautiful items to decorate your life. There are wallets and T-shirts emblazoned with designs from up-and-coming artists, whimsical accessories, stationery, home goods and unusual toys. They also host calligraphy and craft workshops. 820 E. Third St., poketo.com.
Q Pop Shop
It’s a festival of all things cute and collectible at this cheery Little Tokyo store. Pick up plushies, T-shirts, art, accessories, toys, books and music. 319 E. Second St., qpopshop.com.
Inside Honda Plaza you’ll find a selection of beautiful ceramics and tea sets, as well as cookery, paper lanterns, candles, Japanese dolls and other gifts. 414 E. Second St., rafubussaninc.com.
This brightly colored shop oozes cuteness. Fans will go gaga over the shelves of clothing, bags, stationery, dolls, makeup, and toys featuring Hello Kitty and her friends. 115 Japanese Village Plaza, sanrio.com.
Tokyo Japanese Outlet
It’s difficult to leave this gift shop without something adorable. They’ve got the requisite Hello Kitty merchandise, but also sweet bento box sets, sushi items galore, clever kitchen gadgets, pens, stickers, toys and collectibles. 114 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, tokyojlsusa.com.
Arts District Co-Op
Located inside a century-old brick warehouse, shoppers can hunt for clothing, furniture, art, jewelry and handmade goods. There’s a fun block party vibe with music and food trucks. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. 453 Coylton St.
This discount retailer of coats, clothing and shoes is on the ground floor of the St. Vincent Jewelry Center. 659 S. Broadway, burlingtoncoatfactory.com.
California Market Center
While this fashion showroom hub sells to the trade, the public can get a taste of the action during monthly sample sales. From 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on the last Friday of the month, you’ll spot a line that often stretches around the block. There are racks of discounted designer clothing and accessories. Cash only. 110 E. Ninth St., californiamarketcenter.com.
This multi-level department store has clothes and home goods with great discounts. 449 S. Broadway.
Gap Factory Store
With prices lower than traditional Gap outlets, you can stock up on all the wardrobe staples your heart desires. 737 S. Broadway, gap.com.
Rock n’ Roll Flea Market
This lively market is in the historic theater The Regent on the first Sunday of the month. Come for the music-related items, vinyl and much more. 448 S. Main St., rnrflea.com.
Ross Dress for Less
The 39,000-square-foot discount clothing store occupies the basement and ground floor of the former Woolworth department store building. 719 S. Broadway, rossstores.com.
Santee Alley is the epicenter of Downtown bargain hunting. This open-air street market comprised of more than 150 stalls and small shops is open daily (9:30 a.m.-6 p.m.), though weekends attract the biggest crowds hunting for cheap jeans, T-shirts, shoes, sunglasses, jewelry, cell phone accessories, toys and men’s suits. Parking can be intense. Many lots charge $5 to $7 for the day. Olympic Boulevard to 12th Street, between Maple Avenue and Santee Street, thesanteealley.com.
This weekly market unfolds in Row DTLA in the Industrial District selling clothes, antiques, art, culinary goods and plenty of food too. 746 Market Court, la.smorgasburg.com.