Why Not Try: Shopping With Your Boyfriend?

Working in retail, I have a lot of time to observe people's shopping habits - I find it really interesting, probably because I'm a devout solo shopper and so haven't had had that much exposure to other people's styles. For instance, I had no idea that so many people buy piles and piles of clothes, then return all but one or two things a day later. I didn't realize that people in this country have so few qualms about haggling prices - at a chain retailer! - for seemingly miniscule things (e.g. loose buttons, size tags being cut out of a garment, buying more than one of the same item).

And I also didn't realize how many women bring along their boyfriends as shopping partners - and, even more surprisingly, how willing so many men are to help 'style' their girlfriends. I'd always had this idea that when couples shopped together, the women were usually in charge and the men were grudgingly along for the ride, but it turns out that the opposite is becoming more and more true. In the past few weeks alone, I've seen men leading their girlfriends around the store, picking out winter coats and holiday dresses while said girlfriends passively smiled and nodded; women modelling clothes for men in the fitting rooms - men who were interested and engaged and making suggestions about size and color, then running off to fetch options they deemed more suitable; men bringing their wives' purchases in for returns and exchanges (often picking up a candle or set of dishes at the same time).
Maybe it's just LA, where everyone is slightly more concerned with their image than is really normal - but it's not even Hollywood types who are the most common participants. More often than not it's guys sporting facial hair and flannel, ones who would seem more at home in front of a Nintendo Wii than in a store filled with cookbooks and cocktail dresses and smelly soaps.
I, for one, hope it's a trend that catches on - not only because it would take away the need to choose between shopping and bonding with the boy, but also because it would be really helpful to get his opinion on some of my more...directional...purchases before I buy them - and saving a lot of those 'what ARE you wearing?' looks on future date nights.

Talking Shop: New High (M)art

Call me crazy, but I have this theory that Chinatown is set to be the next big shopping destination in LA. First the galleries moved in, then a few renegade boutiques popped up - Munky King with its collectibles and streetwear and, one of my favorites in the city, Welcome Hunters with a fantastic selection of Scandinavian and Aussie fashion - and I just have a hunch that more and more are going to start following suit.
Sometimes I think it might just be wishful thinking on my part, as I am slightly enamored with Chinatown: the oddly comforting scent of ramen noodles that thickens the air, all of the little knicknack shops filled with LA souvenirs left over from the '80s and the Chinese power ballads playing softly on the stereos, the fact that you can buy a box of 100 green jasmine tea bags for less than $2.

But maybe not. New High (M)art is the newest addition to the neighborhood retail scene, tucked away in a nondescript mini-mall between takeout restaurants. It's basically set to be a permanent venue for a monthly rotation of pop-up shops, each one curated by a different fashion personality. The first - and current - one is devoted to Brian Lichtenburg, who is well-known in the city for his unisex club-gear. The shop carries a nice selection of his hoodies, day-glo tank tops, holographic leggings, chunky plastic necklaces and customized Wayfarers, along with mix CDs and photography presumably curated by the designer himself.

It's quite possibly the tiniest retail space I've ever been in, but it still had an impact on me - even though the pop-up concept has been done hundreds of times over in other parts of the world, it's really quite daring for LA. Plus, I love the idea of finding a new shop every time I come to Chinatown to buy my tea. Perhaps my theory isn't so far off after all...