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New High (M)art moves from Chinatown to Los Feliz Village

September 18, 2009 |  9:45 am
New high mart New High (M)art, which recently moved to Los Feliz Village from downtown, definitely has a personality.

The original boutique opened in Chinatown two years ago with themed installations including one called World Fringe that featured clothing from local avant-garde designers alongside inexpensive accessories, shoes and music from international vendors out of Mexico, Uganda and other parts of the world. The Los Feliz incarnation carries on that eclectic tradition by stocking tote bags from Ghana next to graphic T-shirts from L.A.'s Brian Lichtenberg.

Co-owners Miho Ikeda and Richard James "T-Rik" Brewer decided to uproot New High (M)art from Chinatown after it outgrew its tiny original space. The new location on Vermont Avenue in Los Feliz Village is four times bigger. And while other retail areas are blanketed with "For Lease" signs, retailers have been flocking steadily to Los Feliz, including names such as Steven Alan Outpost, Confederacy, Panty Raid, Pop Killer and Vamp Shoes.

"After exploring the whole destination-based, off-the-grid retailing thing, we found ourselves ready for some real foot traffic," Brewer says.

The New High (M)art interior employs industrial materials such as pegboards and letter signage to showcase the resourcefulness of many of its artisans and their wares, including Manu's paper clip and tape necklaces ($110 to $165) and Susan Cianciolo's custom handbags made from fabric remnants ($250).

New High (M)art has a wealth of affordable accessories: Bags come in a variety of styles and prices, such as Es n yaa quilted Kente-print totes from Ghana for $58 and Mexican shopping bags fashioned from industrial sacks for $5. Jewelry ranges in price from $20 for a Boos & Besito bow-tie necklace to $62 for Tanya Aguiñiga's bungee-rope bangles. Footwear includes $38 unisex espadrilles, $42 men's French jelly sandals and $46 Mexican jazz-shoe huaraches.

There are also select vintage pieces such as reworked Levi's jeans ($98) and jackets ($158).

New High (M)art has a new private-label women's collection, Fast Fashion, that offers $32 embroidered shirt dresses and jumpers, $36 tunic blouses, $58 Tencel gauchos and $68 indigo denim cropped pants.

Local independent L.A. designers who are represented include Grey Ant, whose sunglasses ($230) and upcoming collaboration with Teva shoes are on offer; Lichtenberg's graphic tanks ($78) and jewelry from Alex and Chloe ($48 to $72).

For urban nomads, New High (M)art also has Objets d' (M)art in the rear of the store, an area dedicated to inexpensive housewares such as $1.25 place mats and $5 brooms.

"We did a curated dollar store, adding stuff from Mexico City, Berlin and Japan," Brewer says. "You can take the store out of Chinatown, but you can't take Chinatown out of the store."

1720 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 638-0271. Noon to 10 p.m. daily. www.newhighmart.com

Photo credit: New High (M)art
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