Category Archives: Abbot Kinney Blvd

VIDEO: Discover hot looks for summer at Alternative Apparel on Abbot Kinney


By Mariella Rudi

Perhaps the best mainstay of any summer outfit is comfortableness. And just because you wear basics doesn’t mean you have to be, well, basic.

Step up the stoops into Alternative Apparel on Abbot Kinney Blvd., where the basics retailer has transformed a surfside house into an all-encompassing fashion experience.

With a tag line that evokes minimalism with intention – “Fashion basics for a sustainable future” – Alternative Apparel’s soft eco-friendly fabrics and clean designs creates a wardrobe that seamlessly goes from the loungewear to workout gear to nighttime garb.

Alternative Apparel’s story begins with their commitment to sustainability and responsibly made products. The company is one of few certified Green Businesses, a designation the City of Los Angles gives. Their factories in North and South America, Egypt, India, Thailand, and China comply with the Fair Labor Association’s Workplace Code of Conduct. In addition, their G2 Eco-Wash finishes garments with 60 percent less water and no chemicals.

With non-toxic, low-impact dyes on all eco-fabrics, as well as natural dyes, Alternative’s fabric innovation is their first-class signature at an affordable price.

“We have great fabrics but really great silhouettes as well,” said Manager Keith. “It feels really great against the body and is nice, light, and breathable for Southern California.”

With fabrics like 100 percent cotton, eco-blends, knits, wovens, and breathable jersey and soft performance fabrics, Alternative Apparel translates to soft, always.

“We are a basics company. We specialize in really great fabrics, so we do a lot of Pima cotton like with our Moroccan Tees,” which Keith said are popular with the guys because of it’s not-too-low neckline.

Tops with organic Pima cotton jersey are sustainably sourced from Peru, super soft, and durable with natural sheen; another fabric from Peru is the organic light French terry, found in most hoodies, crew necks, and knit bottoms, which also has a soft touch but with a more loose knit with plush, textural feel.

There’s also the eco-fleece and eco-jersey material, both vintage-style loose knits made with recycled polyester and organic cotton.

“Our very, very famous [is] Rockie; it’s just a classic fleece zip and really fun with great colors and a great fit. This is something that we’re absolutely known for; it’s one of our killer products. People come from all over the world to come in and buy this,” Keith said of the hoodie.

Another best-selling basic is the eco-fleece pants, which are a breathable, relaxed sweat pant that is surprisingly cool for summer; the bottoms retain your shape while still having a slouched figure.

For those summer nights, Alternative carries a slew of easy-to-wear dresses that won’t stick or restrict when you go from day to night. They also sell form-flattering tank tops and muscle tanks for the rising temperatures. Men have about the same endless options of raglans, henleys, pullovers, button-ups, dolmans, and baseball T’s. As always, there are endless colors and patterns to choose from once you’ve found the perfect fit.

And it’s not just T-shirts that run amuck in the store; they carry hats, head bands, bags, Verameat jewelry, and Sydney Hale Co. candles.

“This is basically our forte: it feels really good, looks really good, and that’s Alternative,” Keith said.

Alternative Apparel is located at 1337 Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice. The store hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information call the store at 310.482.3316 or visit alternativeapparel.com.

VIDEO: Ruti Skews Homogenous Trends With Israeli Fashion

By Mariella Rudi

With every round-trip from her hometown in Tel Aviv, Israel, techie Ruti Zisser would lug more and more coveted pieces of clothing from the Holy Land back to her studio in Palo Alto to sell at trunk shows to her friends.

Soon, with more designer items to import and an unstoppable growing list of clients, she opened the first Ruti store in Town and Country Village across from Stanford University.

This brick-and-mortar boutique now has five locations, with the youngest living in the bustling fashion district on Abbot Kinney Blvd. Ruti brings a rustic yet modern style to the boho-chic fare typically seen on the street. This multi-brand store brings hard-to-find clothing and accessories from Tel Aviv to an otherwise homogenous American fashion.

Owner Zisser has said in the past that she looks for clothing that is flattering to women of all shapes, sizes, styles, and opinions. She either designs or handpicks every piece in the collection.

“My stores tell my story – a story of love and fashion,” Zisser said on her retailer site. “I showcase a mixture of women’s ready-to-wear shoes, bags and jewelry which, together, create a singular, carefully-curated collection. Chic and modern, the collection combines my love of fashion with my Israeli roots, as most of the brands my stores carry are Tel-Aviv based.”

With established locations in the Bay Area and another on Montana Ave. (their first store opened in Palo Alto in 2009 and spread from there), Ruti is regularly bringing Middle Eastern sensibilities to the West Coast. What’s more, Ruti emphasizes fair trade and sustainable handwork; items range from $60 to $200.

“Everything that we carry in our boutique is all-Israeli inspired and all manufactured there, as well, in the city of Tel Aviv,” said Alyson, the Ruti merchandiser.

So, what’s hot this summer?

One of their best-selling garments is the Gloria dress, a geometrical dolman-like frock synched by a thin belt that hides inside the back.

“We get it in a lot of different colors and patterns throughout the year … it’s just an easy, very lightweight fabric. It’s also very flattering and women seem to find it easy to wear for any occasion, from casual to a wedding even. And it seems to be something that’s easy but also very chic and effortless.”

Another bestselling item if you’re looking for a non-body conscious outfit is Ruti’s Kisim Vest, meaning “pockets” in Hebrew.

“Basically it’s just a really great, versatile piece, again effortless-chic. It adds a lot of dimensions to any outfit really. So you can pair it with a dress, leggings, skinny jeans, shorts. We’ve sold out of it quite a few times.”

It’s safe to say Ruti is fit for all shapes and sizes. Their loose-fitting clothing plays well with L.A.’s year-round Mediterranean climate. But that’s not all they have.

If you’re hunting for European-inspired accessories, Ruti sells unorthodox jewelry and handbags. Chunky gold cuffs, necklaces with lava rock, and earrings made of bent metal pair well with the fine leather bags that eschew the current trends – this is essentially the Ruti principle.

Ruti is located at 1410 Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice. Their store hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information call the store at 310.450.0411 or visit ruti.com.

VIDEO: Aust – A Gem From Down Under On Abbot Kinney


By Mariella Rudi

With only a narrow white fence hinting at its presence, retailer Aust is a discovery within itself. The long, narrow, and cobbled pathway leads to an unlikely clothing storefront of a roofless sanctuary connected by two showrooms.

Aust, located at 1617 Abbot Kinney Blvd. behind Fiore Designs, has a colorful and kooky lineup of established and emerging Australian brands, from jewelry to swimwear to clothing.

The owner, Hannah Wang, is a 5-foot firecracker with a thick Aussie accent and an even bigger personality. The sun-kissed, freckled beauty will help you find the perfect L.A. outfit with her arsenal of Australian designer duds.

Her first piece of advice for summer fashion cool? Sunglasses. Or as she’ll call them, sunnies.

“I just feel like right now, it’s time to have a little fun with your sunnies,” Wang says. “If you’re going to have fun anywhere on your outfit, you can just go crazy with your eyewear.”

Huge, thick designer frames of black, white, ombré and tortoise shell envelope lenses of blue, green, violet and rose colors in the sunglass case and all around the store. Check out eye wares from Ksubi, Valley, and Colab for the authentic Australian look.

If you need help finding an outfit for a long summer day or breezy night, Wang and her co-worker Kristin are there to have fun with the process.

“The other trend I’m loving for summer is midriff and a high-waist skirt for going out,” Wang says. “I just think it’s so fresh, so fun, shows a little skin but not too much. And then we have a body-chain on here which is just so versatile for summer – you can wear it over a tight-fitting piece, or you wear it underneath and show a bit of cleavage.”

For women, labels like Zimmermann, Cameo, and Alice McCall will draw you in with their playful sensibilities. This season is seeing form-fitting skirts and dresses with an edge of drapery to offset any dullness. Pops of color or an unsuspecting print are also in vogue for this season by the beach.

“The one-piece by Kissmax, they’re this amazing swim wear brand that does all swimwear basics. The whole idea is keep it simple swim, that’s why it’s called Kissmax,” says Wang of one of their most popular brand’s swimwear pieces. She pairs it underneath a Zimmermann jumpsuit sans shoes.

Swimsuits by Camilla and Marc, A.T.G., and others are an added bonus for those in Abbot Kinney’s surfside locale.

Men aren’t excluded in this hip boutique. Aust has a ready-made depot of pants, shorts, and board shorts. From chinos, linen pants, skinny jeans, and even leather pants, there’s no shortage of design opportunities for the guys.

Finally, Aust fulfills all other Australian lifestyle varieties; try on felt hats from Rhythm or hand-sculpted clay jewelry and homewares from Dinosaur Designs.

And don’t forget an Aussie homestay, Lucas Papaw, a salve made of fermented papaya.

“We use it for everything,” Wang says.

Store hours are Monday  through Saturday, 11 am to 7 pm, and Sunday 12 pm to 6 pm.

Up Front With Bulldog Realtors Founder Winston Cenac

Winston Cenac.
Winston Cenac.

Winston Cenac is the founder/broker of Bulldog Realtors, which opened its doors in Venice 18 years ago. It currently operates out of a 1912 craftsman bungalow at 12090 Abbot Kinney.

The company has approximately 55 agents who cover Venice, Santa Monica, and Mar Vista. For more information, call 310.452.5004 or visit 
bulldogrealtors.com.

How’s the real estate business?

Winston Cenac: People ask us that all the time. It’s booming on the higher end. On the lower end it’s softer. Last May, 28 single-family homes were for sale in Venice. This June, there are 48 single-family homes. The average number of days on market is about 15 percent longer.

Why is the lower end softer?

Winston Cenac: Well for one thing, it’s harder for the little guy to get a loan. Yes there were abuses in the past but good people who didn’t have great income were able to get loan and pay their mortgages on time. Today, it’s much harder.

What would be your advice to these borrowers?

Winston Cenac: Be persistent. If some nice guy at Wells Fargo tells you don’t qualify for a loan, call us. We’ll give you the phone numbers of some nice guys – they’re creative and honest.

What’s going on along Abbot Kinney?

Winston Cenac: The other day I saw a Brink’s truck on Abbot Kinney for the first time – so I’d say “money” is going on. Last month, a 1,600 square foot storefront across from us sold for $5.8 million. But it’s cyclical. There will be a day when Abbot Kinney prices are lower – and when you can actually get parking.

You wanted to talk about superstitions?  

Winston Cenac: When you called I was looking up the phone number for a Shinto priest we keep on file. About once a year we have to get a house blessed or smudged or assessed by a feng shui expert.

What is the biggest superstition?

Winston Cenac: That if you list your house high, you’ll get a good sale because people like to negotiate. The truth is you list your house just a little low, buyers will think they’re getting a bargain and bid the price up.

What do you miss most about the old Venice?

Winston Cenac:  I miss Hal’s. Hal had this ultra-cool way of reaching over and turning down the lights. Everybody looked good at Hal’s.

Artist Joaquin Trujillo Portrays Physical, Psychological Trauma Through Exhibit

Joaquin Trujillo installs his artworks for his exhibit “Mal de Ojo” that’s on show through June 28 at De Soto Gallery.
Joaquin Trujillo installs his artworks for his exhibit “Mal de Ojo” that’s on show through June 28 at De Soto Gallery.

By Jess Linde

Mexican artist Joaquin Trujillo’s “Mal de Ojo” exhibition opened in Abbot Kinney’s De Soto Gallery last month, showcasing a series of pieces based in Latin American culture, as well as Trujillo’s childhood.

Growing up in Mexico, Trujillo nearly died of scarlet fever, leaving him with eye damage he has corrected with various procedures over many years. Because of his sickness, Trujillo was believed to be suffering from an affliction of the “Evil Eye,” a superstition rooted in Mexican culture that leads to misfortune.

“Mal de Ojo” – which runs through June 28 – is a collection of “fetishistic portrayals of the artist’s own physical and psychological trauma and tabletop arrangements of Mexican folk remedies and collections of personal amulets and totems.”

De Soto Gallery is located at 1350 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice. Regular gallery hours are Thursday through Sunday, noon to 5 pm, and by appointment. For more information, call 323.253.2255 or visit desotogallery.com.

Yo! Venice spoke to Trujillo about the exhibition:

How many pieces are in the exhibition?

There are 16 images in all of “Mal de Ojo.” Thirteen of the images are in the show plus an installation of self-portraits – I think as many as 30 at various sizes.

What makes “Mal de Ojo” unique compared to your other work?

I’ve had the images in my head for a very long time. The images look exactly as I envisioned. Unlike my “Flores” series which evolves as it goes along and my Niños, working with kids, which always involves an element of surprise, Mal de Ojo is all carefully planned still lifes.

When did you first begin work on the pieces featured in “Mal de Ojo?” How did you set about putting them together for an exhibition?

The project started in November of 2012 while I was at a residency in Varanasi, India when I found the evil eyes. In India, they use the eyes to make masks, like little Gods. It triggered memories of the surgeries I had to save my eye. I decided that I wanted to do a collage with these; I knew I wanted a layered image. I had a portrait of myself done at an old portrait studio, and had it hand-colored. The eyes hold down my portrait, like my own eyes held me down. It represents my childhood, not going blind, and having a visual career – a true self-portrait.

The exhibition was always in mind but, this January I drove gallery owner Shelley De Soto crazy with a million different ways to put it together.

Do you have a favorite piece in the exhibition?

The bananas! It’s the most vivid. It references artists that I love. It’s a homage to Irving Penn. Also, Andy Warhol.

How did your childhood sickness influence the works?

Most of the images are based on memories of being sick and the home remedies they used to heal me. These remedies worked for me. The proof is that I am still here. I lived. It’s not really about superstition. It’s about belief and intention. Superstition is everyday life where I come from. That’s just how things are done.

How else does Latin American popular and folk culture influence your work?

It’s my life. I live it. I live in Mexico and New York. I’m driving from Zacatecas to El Paso right now as we speak.

Was there anything specific that attracted you to Venice?

Shelley and I have been working together for 10 years. It’s interesting to be in Venice. There was a time when I almost made Venice my home. It almost feels like a homecoming.