Several blocks east of the notoriously over-crowded and tourist ridden Venice Boardwalk resides one of the West Side's most unassumingly up-and-coming destinations: Abbot Kinney Blvd. Its beachside location errs on the side of unpretentious and laid back, giving it an endearing charm that is seemingly hard to come by in a town that thrives on competitive edge with hints of not so subtle elitism.
Stretching just short of a mile, Abbot Kinney boasts some of the best restaurants and shopping south of Santa Monica. While shopping hotspot, The Third Street Promenade, is just miles away, Abbott Kinney shys away from major commercial stores and houses small boutiques that cater to a variety of clientele. Staying true to its local roots, one can find the staple bohemian look that defines Venice Beach. Alternatively, one can find high end designers that focus more on neutral colors and classic styles. The boutiques of Abbot Kinney bring together both boho-chic and sophistication - a mix that LA has seemingly perfected.
Boutiques to look for:
Principessa (1323 Abbot Kinney Blvd.)
Situated smack dab in the middle of Abbot Kinney, Principessa is one of my favorite stores on Abbott Kinney (side note: it is also conveniently located next door to only one of the BEST coffee shops in LA, Intelligentsia). Principessa offers quite the smorgasbord. On one rack, you can find yourself thumbing through $300 Chanluu dresses, and the next, you'll come upon a $40 designer that you may have never heard of. This is what I love most about this store. It isn't exclusively selling high-end designers that are teasing you, rather they balance their pricier pieces with affordable (and awesome) finds. Their vintage selections (especially vintage denim) is pretty on point and affordable! Vintage!
Ananda (1354 Abbot Kinney Blvd.)
Not too far from the aforementioned, Principessa, Ananda is a gem of a store for affordable fashion. While Principessa can be hard to gauge in terms of price points, Ananda is consistently affordable. Whenever I need a last minute outfit, but don't want to completely break my bank, Ananda is my go to. I would describe Ananda as "girly bohemian" -- bright colored and impossibly tall wedges, light and flowy dresses, simple and delicate jewelry, etc. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!
Skylark (1356 Abbot Kinney Blvd)
Next door neighbors to Ananda is Skylark, a small space that packs a lot of punch. Upon walking into Skylark, you get the vibe that a store like this is misplaced in LA. The dim lights and smell of leather sets a scene right out of the dirty south. Skylark is great for the "essentials" - bralettes, simple t-shirts, leather boots, silver jewelry, thick leather belts, etc. Because they do sell quite a lot of fine leather products, you have to be careful with prices, however, sometimes essentials justify a splurge.
Firefly (1409 Abbot Kinney Blvd.)
This store is super fun. In terms of clothes, you can find a lot of Free People apparel among other brands of the like. What I love about this store is that it isn't solely a clothing store. Firefly has an entertaining novelty book section (similar to that of Urban Outfitters), soaps and scrubs, hand-crafted greeting cards, cookbooks, stamp kits, moleskin notebooks, and other knick knacks. Because Firefly is such a smorgasbord of merchandise, it is very easy to get trapped in there for a long time. Firefly is one of my go to's when I am looking for a small, but cute, but funny, gift for friends and family.
Satine (1508 Abbot Kinney Blvd.)
This store is great for people looking for more mainstream designers including Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Moschino, Sonia Rykiel and more. The space itself is extremely small and very unassuming from the outside. In fact, the first time I visited Satine, I was shocked by the merchandise because I was unaware that designers like the ones mentioned were being sold in a place like Venice. While Abbot Kinney itself definitely has a market and customer base for a store like Satine, it is by far the wild card of the streets shopping.
The fashion forward vendors that inhabit Abbot Kinney do a very good job of staying true to the local reputation of Venice in terms of relaxation. The street is abbreviated with whimsical boutiques that cater to many different styles, while also offering much more than fashion. On the first Friday of each month, Abbot Kinney is a West Side destination with food trucks lining the street, innumerable open galleries, live music and much more.