Downtown L.A. Is a Retail Field of Dreams

Want to see the future? Dive in to The Brand New L.A. Week at LAmag.com! Inspired by “L.A. on the Verge”—a far-reaching guide to the big boom transforming the Los Angeles that appears in our June issue—we’ve prepared five days’ worth of stories about the city’s exciting next chapter. How will L.A. look, work, and even taste in 2020 and beyond? Read on to find out.

It’s a testament to L.A.’s growing caché in the fashion world that so many international clothing brands have chosen to open their only stateside outposts here. Brands like COS, Moschino, Dsquared2, and the exclusive French boutique L’Eclaireur (set to open this fall) have chosen to set up shop in Los Angeles. But perhaps what’s even more interesting is that some labels are forgoing the city’s more established shopping districts in favor of the burgeoning scene downtown.

Over the past few years we’ve witnessed a retail explosion in DTLA. Last year Zara opened a 27,000 square foot outlet at FIGat7th, joining the behemoth 32,000 square foot H&M, and Acne Studios, Aesop, Oak NYC, and Tanner Goods opened just blocks away. Soon France’s A.P.C. and Australia’s BNKR (“Bunker”) will join the fray on 9th and Broadway.

DTLA’s expansion shows no signs of slowing. There are 96 projects currently in development (either in planning or construction stages) and many include massive amounts of retail space. A group of five former warehouses will comprise At Mateo, a 130,000 square foot retail center scheduled to open next fall in the Art’s District. When Figueroa Central, a mixed-use, mutli-tower compound, is built there will be 200,000 square feet of retail space up for grabs. And probably the most ambitious of them all is City Market. The project, currently still in the planning stages, could transform 10 acres of empty produce warehouses in the Fashion District into a mega mixed-use compound offering 225,000 square feet of retail space. There are plans for dozens of other mixed-use buildings too, and most include street-level storefront space. Who knows which brands will eventually fill these shiny new facades? For now it seems that DTLA is a retail field of dreams— if you build it they will come.

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