Bigger wasn't just better, it was compulsory when the X-Large Store opened on Vermont Avenue in late '91.
There, the young and clued-in could find classic blue-collar togs, local streetwear labels and the store's signature designs, all meticulously folded atop blond wood cabinets and all in the largest sizes available.
The store's owners--brothers Eric and Eli Bonerz (sons of TV actor and director Peter Bonerz), Adam Silverman and Beastie Boy drummer Michael Diamond--were the kings of oversize streetwear. Then they moved on to the old school look, selling new stock of classic Adidas sneakers (which prompted the company to revive the old models).
Those, however, were yesterday's trends.
These days you'll find the X-Large style council playing poker with Sofia Coppola, smoking cigars, sipping herbal teas (with a cocktail chaser) and wearing sleeker, tailored prep wear that fits right. Eric Bonerz says he would never get caught strutting around in old school sneakers. It's just not in the cards.
"Whatever we get into, our clothes follow," he says.
Which led to X-Executive, a better-menswear division--whose focus is on suits--that is scheduled to open this fall. "We're going to take Barneys out," he teases.
Meanwhile, make room in your closets for leisure suiting. Mod staples such as Freddy Perry V-neck sweaters and polo shirts and Lonsdale caps are already awaiting you on the shelves. So are those rubber-soled shoe crimes such as Wallabees and the canvas slippers your father seemed to wear just to embarrass you. (Picture Snoop Doggy Dogg, film director Jim Jarmusch, Puck from MTV's "Real World" or any of the other stellar X-Large regulars wearing them.)
The four owners serve on the in-house design team, along with a hodgepodge of their crew creating the namesake line and combing resources for obscure items before they become mainstream.
It's not like these guys intended to become trend shapers. None of them have any formal education in fashion or merchandising--just an incredible knack for it.
"We just wanted a little shop to sell what we like," says Eric Bonerz, who, with Eli, is a homeboy of the Los Feliz neighborhood where the store is located. He remembers attending nearby Franklin High School, where they busied themselves "keeping on top of stuff and then moving on when it got popular."
Today, they push the cutting-edge "stuff" from signature stores in Chicago, New York, Portland, Ore., and Tokyo. In April, they expanded their range with a junior line called X-Girl, a collaboration with New York-based designers Daisy Von Furth and Kim Gordon (the raucous front woman of Sonic Youth).
The X-Girl boutique is connected to the Vermont Avenue X-Large store, which also contains a tiny record shop filled with CDs and used and new vinyl.
You'll find an eclectic range from Verve to the Beastie Boys' label Grand Royal.
The block surrounding X-Large has turned into a hipper alternative to Melrose. Dresden's--the town's original lizard lounge--is a few doors away. There's Amok, a pulp fiction bookstore; Mondorama M.O.A., selling "cheese-flavored cyberpunk streetwear," and Mondo Video, for the absurd on celluloid and vinyl.
While silhouettes have shrunk, X-Large still has to do with livin' large. Which, of course, is the only way to fly in this town.