Shopping: MartinMartin upbeat on downtown
Husband-and-wife designers Eric Martin and Diane Moss-Martin, co-founders of moody Los Angeles-based brand MartinMartin, chose a blinding white color palette for their first-ever boutique — an optically striking choice, considering that their collections are almost wholly all-black looks.

The lofty space is about as minimal as it gets, echoing the label's pared-down aesthetics.

The white walls are roughly 18 feet high, backdropping unembellished wall shelves and a dramatic, industrial-style clothing rack that runs from floor to ceiling down the length of the store's interior. A mezzanine level — which will double as a showroom for the brand — hovers above.

"It's going to be a very dark, clean environment," said Moss-Martin a few days before the store was to open downtown on Sept. 10. "Very simple."

Diane, who co-designs the 10-year-old label with Eric, added that the shop will also double as an event space, where monthly guests such as "a famous surfboard shaper and photographers" make special appearances.

The duo chose downtown as the locale for their first retail endeavor because of its outlaw spirit. "This region is kind of like the new frontier," said Eric. "We didn't see 3rd Street or Beverly Boulevard or Abbot-Kinney as being an appropriate reflection of our brand — which is coming from the left, and very dark. Downtown reminds us of SoHo in the '80s."

The boutique, which is housed within a circa-1912 building, carries the men's and women's collections, hand-made boots (of the combat variety), handbags and accessories. Prices range from around $220 for knitwear to $2,500 for the most detailed leather jackets.

The brand's Japanese-feeling, goth-lite aesthetics aren't for everyone — few men feel comfortable in full-length black skirts and only the most theatrical woman would embrace a funnel collar rivaling the width of her shoulders.

But the Martins are unapologetic in their artiness. "We embrace the shape of the Orient, the tailoring of Italy and the casualness of the American lifestyle," Eric said. "We come from an anti-fashion place … but always very luxurious."

713 South Los Angeles St., (213) 746-4585. By appointment Monday and Tuesday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.


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