Retail: DTLA on the Rise

March 28, 2014 BY TOM JULIAN


Tom Julian, Men’s Fashion Director of the Doneger Group reports from LA on the emerging lifestyle retail scene

The buildings in urban downtown cities are becoming just as important as the retailers and brands who are bringing them to life. In a city like Los Angeles, independent retailers and mass chains (from Walgreen’s to Target) have been fueling the fire for this downtown mecca in the last five years. Recent developments though include high-rise residential projects, acclaimed restaurant and bar concepts and cool hoteliers. Now, even fashionable labels and global brands can be shopped in DTLA. Oak and Portland’s Tanner Goods are the newest (Zara soon).


What has worked so well for DTLA is the fact that fashion and arts communities have been engaged to help these retail projects have a different spin. Some are acclaimed for using their footprint as a showcase for emerging artists, incorporating coffee shops or cafes and creating event space for monthly Shop Walks.

In the headlines? Acne used modern architecture to create a retail space in the historic Eastern Columbia building and added a Swedish coffee shop. The Ace Hotel converted the United Artists Building into over 175 rooms, a small retail shop and a restored theatre for music happenings. Urban Outfitters is showcasing the Rialto Theatre as an art gallery-inspired space with cues for music, instruments and an old school record department.

From the small shop retailer to the global brand, gentrification of buildings and historic spaces have become an opportunistic ingredient to the marketing mix.