Robert Kolcon, left, and John Hawkinson shop at General Quarters store… (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles…)
Over the last year and a half, a stretch of South La Brea Avenue has become home to a cluster of men's boutiques that are tapping into the vibe of American heritage, military surplus and nostalgia, a vibe that continues to resonate with consumers. The 100 block was already home to Stussy (street wear), Union (sneakers) and American Rag Cie and its World Denim Bar. Now the troika of Feal Mor, General Quarters and Shelter Half, with their rough-hewn wood, brick walls, weathered flags and canvas tents, have made the area a kind of mecca for the manly man and a true "guy's gulch."
Feal Mor opened its 1,200-square-foot space in December 2010, and owner J.P. Plunier filled it with the namesake label's Breton stripe sweaters, long-sleeve T-shirts, scarves, navy peacoats, slim-cut trousers and knit caps. Many of the items boast fun details such as cycling pockets that button against the small of the back, contrasting chenille cuffs and skull-and-crossbones buttons.
But the real fun is that Plunier has also filled the place with vintage military finds — parkas with fur-lined hoods, WWII-era Zippo lighters and an assortment of olive drab and camouflage pieces (many culled from his personal collection) — as well as Wolverine boots, custom-made surfboards, restored vintage bicycles and even a Euro-sticker-festooned foosball table parked in the front window.
Feal Mor, 165 S. La Brea Ave., 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, (323) 939-6600, fealmor.com.
Black-and-white photographs of James Dean? Check. Weathered California flag? Check. Leather jackets, selvage denim and plaid shirts merchandised alongside oil drums and motorcycles? Check, check and check and check. All clues that owner Blair Lucio is determined to make General Quarters, which also opened its doors in December 2010, the go-to shop for guys looking to stock up on brands such as Life After Denim, Gant Rugger, Topo Designs bags, Tellason Denim, Groceries Apparel, Field Notes memo books, Eastland 1955 boat shoes and the store's private-label collection of T-shirts, belts, scarves and other accessories.
General Quarters, 153 S. La Brea Ave., noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, (323) 937-5391, http://www.generalquartersstore.com.
The newest addition to the mix is also the first to come with an exit strategy. A pop-up collective of made-in-America brands, Shelter Half opened its doors in early December 2011 and doesn't plan to occupy the 4,200-square-foot space past May 2012.
Co-founded by Environment Furniture executives Davide Berruto and Camilla Trigano (chief executive and marketing director, respectively) the store is named in honor of both the shelter-half canvas tent (so called because each soldier would traditionally carry half) and a Vietnam War-era coffeehouse in Tacoma, Wash. Likewise, the space does double duty. First, it's a retailer of domestic brands such as Save Khaki, Kings County Jerky Co., RetroSpecs & Co., Amana Woolen Mill as well as a range of pieces from Environment itself (including sofas covered in reclaimed army tent material) and Red Wing boots. Second, it's also a salon-coffeehouse environment for movie screenings, art gallery installations (West Hollywood's M+B Gallery) and java from Handsome Coffee Co.
Shelter Half, 161 S. La Brea Ave., 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, (323) 936-0225, http://www.shelterhalf.com.