Have you ever REALLY shopped if you haven’t been to the Grove Mall in Los Angeles? Possibly not. It throws every fear you ever had about malls out the window and ushers in a shopping experience that urban planners the world over could take a note or two from. Of course, Rodeo Drive is the ultimate street for the Los Angeles shopping experience we’ve seen on the big screen. But you knew that already. So we’ve handpicked some Los Angeles shopping essentials for you, including a few famous brands that get name-dropped across US pop culture. You know you’re just a little bit curious to see what they have in store…
Without wanting to overcook this, there’s something a little bit special about The Grove. Los Angeles local’s favourite mall has managed to do what most malls shy away from – embrace its history. Before the 50 or so glitzy stores in this outdoor mall were built, the site was home to a farmer’s market. Rather than convince the farmers to set up shop elsewhere, the two coexist in harmony – adding that touch of local flair to global branding and familiar franchise faces. Make no mistake, you’ll be keen to swerve the fruit and veg for a seat at the Cheesecake Factory, but seeing LA locals shop for daily supplies adds an extra touch to the special shopping experience the Grove does so well.
The multi-screen cinema complex, dancing fountains and streetcar that cruises through makes it hard to concentrate on those Lululemon yoga pants you’ve been eyeing. But as shopping malls go, it’s an upscale spot that every now and then feels like an LA theme park. Dropping into Nordstroms, J.Crew and Sephora will make you feel like a local.
Orbzii tip: If you like The Grove consider its sister mall, The Americana. Bigger and with far more choice of stores, the sibling rivalry ends there. The Grove always wins on the style front.
The Beverly Centre
On Wednesdays, we wear pink. If you’re all over the cult classic movie reference, you’ll love the Beverly Centre. One of the three malls used as a filming location for Mean Girls, this Los Angeles mall might look a little different these days, but still draws in the crowds. Rather than carve out an exclusive niche for itself, the Beverly Centre allows you to do much more than window shop. Fast fashion giants H&M mingle with Versace and Prada, with a little UniQLO added in. Whatever your wallet size, you can shop here. Which isn’t always the case in some of LA’s more exclusive shopping districts. If ever there was the ultimate place to build a capsule wardrobe around a statement designer piece (or two), this is IT. And, if you’ve grown up glued to the silver screen, finally being able to set foot in a Bloomingdales or Macys might just be a dream come true.
Orbzii tip: No Los Angeles mall can get away with simply providing shops to explore. Don’t miss the Museum of Dream Space – one of the first museums in the US to focus on digital art.
South Coast Plaza
Can we ignore the largest shopping mall on the west coast just because of an Orange County address? That’s a hard NO. The South Coast Plaza is an overwhelmingly gorgeous, 64 acre plot stuffed with art, couture and classy dining spots. There’s no Cheesecake Factory or IHOP (International House of Pancakes) here. That minor inconvenience aside, this is the place to browse the rails of Alexander McQueen, slip into some Jimmy Choos, wrap yourself in a Hermes scarf and see if Tiffany & Co have anything in your size. If the glittering prices are a little steep, there’s always the chance to dine at the jeweller’s first foray into cuisine at The Blue Box Cafe. No, we didn’t see that one coming either. Still, it’s a meal few outside California will experience, for now. Upscale, but still accessible, South Coast Plaza keeps things real by including a J.Crew and a Pottery Barn to spend it up in.
Orbzii tip: Overseas shopping can get a VIP passport for exclusive deals, add-on gifts and freebies. Register on the website before you visit.
Melrose Trading Post
Stylists and creatives in the city often swerve the Los Angeles mall scene to shop here instead. The reason? Since 1997, Sunday’s at the Melrose Trading Post market on Melrose Avenue have been a reliable source of vintage clothing, handmade jewellery, sought after antiques and those unique design pieces we all go crazy for. Add in the non-profit vibes and raising money for a local school never felt so good. The $5 entrance fee buys you a place in the ‘real’ LA, a chance to see some local music on the performance stages and a graze along the food trucks too.
Hollywood Artisans Market
Los Angeles malls might be glitzy meccas of fashion and fleek, but they can never beat the triumph of finding a local, artisan maker you just vibe with. If you live for those moments, skip along to the Hollywood Artisans Market. The pop–up events happen through the year, with 90 stallholders sewing, painting and baking up a storm before the big day. Crafts, clothing, jewellery, accessories and mouth-watering food stalls that all support local small businesses can’t fail to fill your heart with joy. Expect to leave with full bags of hand-sewn garms – and an empty wallet.
Prelude & Dawn
This bright and beautiful store in Highland Park is just the kind of store you almost hope you don’t stumble upon on your travels. There’s a ‘take me home’ piece on every shelf. Hard on the wallet – but easier on the luggage allowance, Prelude & Dawn has a joyful selection of jewellery and stationery that’s bound to see you heading home with a piece or two. Price points are perfect for holiday gifts too. What’s not to like?
You’ll want to fill your wardrobe with pieces from the uber-chic designers that line the racks of Mohawk in Silverlake. Covering all bases: men, women, kids, homewares and gifts means you can shop for everyone in your travel group, grab some gifts or just eye the signature standout pieces. Easier than trying to browse every LA designer store yourself, the curated mix is expertly done. On the homewares side, you’ll be wistfully browsing the ceramics a little too long, all the while wondering if they’ll make it through baggage handling safely.