Photo courtesy of Gary Leonard for L.A. Tourism
SoCal may be a bastion of casual style, but Angelenos sure know how to accessorize those yoga pants and skinny jeans. After all, as the birthplace of gladiator sandals and skater kicks, L.A. is a mecca for shoe junkies everywhere. What kind of footwear rocks your socks off?
Dropping names is a favorite pastime in L.A., and Rodeo Drive can introduce you to all the key players — Jimmy Choo, Stuart Weitzman, Salvatore Ferragamo and Loro Piano, to name a few. This famed shopping district’s three blocks of cobbled, Parisian-inspired streets feature one über-luxe storefront after another. For boundary-pushing styles, check out LD Tuttle, designed by rising star — and L.A. native — Tiffany Tuttle. Her chunky heels and deconstructed booties are architectural and edgy. If you need a pair of pink wingtips (and who doesn’t?), search out George Esquivel, who hand cobbles clean, colorful takes on traditional men’s styles and has been featured in Details, Vogue and GQ. No mention of luxury shoe brands would be complete without honoring the name of Nordstrom. The retail haven's location at The Grove hosts trunk and fashion shows and, of course, a footwear department with so many designer brands that even the most studious shoe addict will need a map to navigate it.
In the heart of West L.A., variety is king, and nowhere are the choices more extensive than at Santa Monica’s outdoor walking mall, Third Street Promenade. Browse Adidas, Aldo, Clarks, Foot Locker, Puma, Sketchers and Steve Madden. Go in the evening, when the mall is abuzz with activity, and plenty of street-side eateries offer excellent people watching and respite from retail therapy.
Recognizable from Woody Allen’s 1991 comedy “Scenes from a Mall,” the Beverly Center straddles fashionable West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Scope the massive shoe departments at Bloomingdales and Macy’s as well as the selection at stores such as Feet Beat, Eilatan, Nine West, Shiekh Shoes and Finish Line.
Individuality is well regarded in trendsetting L.A. Craft your own panache with limited-edition sneakers at Undefeated (various locations). Blending sporty with artsy, these designer Converse, Pointer and New Balance are urban and uniquely colorful. Kicks Sole Provider in Larchmont Village was called a "shrine to the sneaker" by Los Angeles magazine for its inventory of shoes from around the world, and Waraku on Abbot Kinney Boulevard brings Tokyo's street culture to L.A.'s feet.
But there’s only one way to ensure no one else doubles up your style: Buy vintage. Re-mix sells yesteryear’s never-been-worn footwear for men and women. Find everything from art deco pumps to metallic disco stilettos — some are authentically vintage, while others are reproductions of classic designs.
Proving you don’t actually have to spend a fortune to keep up with the Kardashians, outlet malls in Southern California feature eye-catching brands at seriously reduced prices. Find the irresistible H&M and Nordstrom Rack at Ontario Mills, plus Bakers Outlet, Vans Outlet, Nike Factory Store and Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse. Camarillo Premium Outlets practically sizzles with deals at stores such as Ugg Australia, Cole Haan, Sperry,Saucony and Timberland.
Citadel Outlets is the closest in proximity to Downtown L.A. Appropriately named, the collection of shops is located within a “castle,” complete with dozens of brand-name stores.