When I moved to Los Angeles 6 years ago Lincoln Boulevard was a stretch of road that was to be avoided at all costs. From the end of the Marina Freeway to the on ramps for Interstate 10, Lincoln was jam packed with traffic, used car dealerships and stores peddling junk of one variety or another. As the gentrification of Venice began to kick into overdrive and spread east, Lincoln began to suck a little bit less each year. Now it is home to westside staples like Wurstkutche, Superba Food & Bread, General Store and Tradesmen LA.
Tradesmen first opened in June 2012 and I was admittedly tired of the “#menswear” scene. The whole made in America, “heritage this” and “archive that” had worn out it’s welcome in the years following the economic downturn. Large brands that couldn’t have given less of a shit about their heritage 10 years ago were going overboard on the Americana vibe and it was just a massive turn off to the fashion industry as a whole. But then a funny thing happened, I realized that while I enjoy quality made products, for me “#menswear” has always been more about the people. The reason I’d moved to Venice in the first place was for the community vibe that is sorely lacking in pretty much the rest of Los Angeles.
From the first time I walked into Tradesmen I knew the store was a labor of love. After all it pretty much had to be what with it’s location on a street known for shady used car dealers rather than it’s local retailers. It’s unusual location seems much less so now, especially with a Paul Hibler project sitting across the street. With every passing year Lincoln Boulevard continues it’s march towards asset rather than eyesore, though the traffic will continue to suck for the rest of time.
The men behind the space are Ruben Leal and Doug Behner. Over the past couple years I’ve stopped in a number of times just to chat with Ruben and see what’s new. It’s always great to have a place to go check out product and never feel like the proprietors are going to wring your neck if you don’t buy something. This is the vibe I always hope for with retailers because when I do buy something I feel good about it. There are a ton of stores in Los Angeles and around the country that all offer the same products but it is the manner in which they treat you that separates the bad from the good. Sure that might seem like stating the obvious but if you’ve ever been into one of those “cool guy” shops and felt like the staff was staring down their nose the whole time, then you know why it’s worth mentioning that this isn’t one of those places.
Tradesmen makes great use of it’s space, it’s light and airy, a welcome change from the exposed brick and steel that dominates so many spaces. Within the space you’ll find denim from Baldwin, Tellason, Levi’s Vintage and Rouge Territory. Shirts and accessories from Save Khaki United, Jungmaven, The Hillside, M. Nii and Aloha Sunday. They also stock high end Japanese camping brand Snow Peak, Kletterwerks backpacks, MCMC fragrances (Dude No.1) and Ursa Major grooming products. To complete their inventory and cover you head to toe they offer footwear from Chamula and Birkenstock as well as Wigwam socks. All said, I think their stock is eclectic without being all over the place like many stores. It’s always a good sign if you can walk into a place and dress for a night out on the town or an adventure off the beaten path.
As with any fashion trend, there comes a tipping point, a moment when people let out a collective groan and declare said trend, “so over”. That’s all well and good because it’ll weed out the people who thought this whole thing was a trend in the first place. The way I see it, there’s nothing trendy about making the most out of essentials and basics, it’s just common sense. I’m not an advocate for the $50 tee shirt but if that’s what floats your boat then go on witcha bad self. At least this generation seems to agree that a really well made pocket tee with no graphics is worth the money rather than the bedazzled nightmare-inducing garbage of the mid aughts.
If you’re ever in the neighborhood you’ve got to stop in and check this place out. Chat with Ruben and Doug, try some stuff on or just admire the space.
1807 Lincoln BLVD.
Venice CA, 90291