Nestled beside slabs of richly-saturated marble, culled antiques, and mirrored orbs are perfectly-crafted and endlessly wearable pieces for both men and women at Assembly Los Angeles.
Clothing by CFDA designer and owner of the company Greg Armas hang next to pieces from an extensive but carefully maintained index of international designers and vintage items that are of such high quality you’d be hard pressed to find them at the flea. The selection is minimal but smart, and shows a tasteful sense of humor with pieces like oversized patchwork-denim jackets, a line of hoodies and sweatpants that Armas designed “for stoners,” and fine, pearl and gold jewelry that’s been put to bed with a dusting of diamonds in the shape of a smiley face.
The New York brand kept its cool as it transitioned into its Los Angeles shape, but the new, spacious outpost on Melrose Avenue—with its broad marble counters and soaring windows—feels a little bit more grown up than its East Coast counterpart.
We caught up with Armas while he was in Los Angeles opening the shop and asked him some questions.
People love to compare and contrast L.A. and New York. You’ve lived in both cities. What do you make of the differences and similarities between the two places?
There is a major exodus taking place from N.Y. to L.A.—from creative companies to artists—and the Internet is partly responsible. Los Angeles and New York put each other on the map and sort of need each other in a weird, geographical yin-yang. Someone can connect to Manhattan’s resources from the West Coast really well now and take in the tacos and still get a tan on their left arm [while] stuck in traffic. There is a specific [competitive element] to New York that is part of its lifeblood, but quality of life seems increasingly important lately. I am excited to have two shop environments now that can properly serve both lifestyles.
Melrose Avenue has so much history. What drew you to opening the Los Angeles store there instead of, say, downtown or in Silver Lake?
For the reason you just said, mainly; Melrose is an institution for innovative and luxury retail in Los Angeles. Just like the city itself, it is a jumble of mixed genres, aesthetics, and tastes, but within one mile you can kill it. I am looking forward to having a presence in other parts of the city soon but, to begin, this was a perfect home. My previous shop, Scout, is and was in this neighborhood over 10 years ago. This is still the epicenter of quintessential L.A. shopping culture.
You mentioned tacos. Where do you find the best tacos in L.A.?
The taco question is a trick question in my book. The best tacos in L.A. are where you find them, when you find them. This place is overflowing with perfect Mexican food.
What do you look to for inspiration?
My most consistent form of creative inspiration is art. Tom Friedman’s 1,000 Hours of Staring carries the most weight. I can see how this piece would infuriate a lot of people and I don’t like it for that reason, but the premise of editing the art process down to just one blank piece of paper that’s been pinned to a wall and stared at for five years is so pure, archetypal. A blank piece of paper is so essential to the creative process that it is almost holy; the paper is the receiver of the idea, in whatever form, zygoting its way into the reality of becoming a poem, painting, dress, or bomb. It represents the important capacity of visualization, which is limited solely by imagination.
Do you have any tattoos? Do you like tattoos?
I really like tattoos but I only have two. Both marked massively important moments in my life. I also really like hand and neck pieces, but I will probably wait for a real rainy day before I can go there, personally.