Ooh la L.A: how (and why) to live like a Californian in London Town

Sweatboxes, bad-ass boots, adobo and the odd hike or three. As a new Design Museum exhibition opens, we coach you on how to live like a Californian in the capital

london california style made in california

Ah, California. Land of cacti, Google, purpling dusk over tangerine groves, green juice, medical marijuana, the Kardashians. LA is New York’s stoned, toned, angelic younger sister, where summer never ends, horizons trump high-rises, and ‘hey, I’m walkin’ here’ becomes ‘you’re good, don’t sweat it’

Californians invented the concept of life-style, as Don DeLillo put it. So, as a new exhibition celebrating the state is set to open at at the Design Museum, we show you how to get a big old slice of that West Coast lifestyle — hold the cream — without leaving the UK.

Oooooooh, fash-un Think of Hollywood and you’ll think of high-wattage red carpet glamour. But LA street style couldn’t be more different. ‘Laid-back’ doesn’t cut it. Rock up to a Michelin-starred restaurant in jeans ’n’ a moth-eaten T-shirt, and no one bats an eyelid.

The streets are soundtracked by cacophonous flip-flopping. Sandals, sandals, sandals. Tory Burch is an obvious go-to, as are Giuseppe Zanetti and Sam Edelman, Tkees or Manebi. Check out these statement ones from Havaianas. Would you dare?

Mary Katrantzou x Havaianas (WWD) Canvas trainers — sorry, sneakers — are a must. Keep it classic with cream pair of converse. If you’re in the market for something a little bit more luxurious, you can never go wrong with Celine. Phwoar.

Cropped, distressed denim shorts are bonafide Cali uniform, all year long. Pair them with vintage band t-shirts: Amplified Clothing have a great selection, and you might be able to find yourself a gem from ASOS marketplace.

If hot pants aren’t your vibe, get yourself a pair of Levis ‘Summer of Love’1967 505s — the classic slim-fitting jean of the 1960’s, too.

At the moment, the city of angels is vibing real nostalgia for the American Old West. Think rodeo-chic: cowboy boots, horse-prints, capes, leather belts with big old buckles and all-fringed-everything.

The Kooples do a great range of ranch-husslin’ big-collared shirts. Chloe is the place to go for capes and fringes. Check out the fabulous Vestiare Collective for pre-loved designer gear — they have rocking jackets, shirts and bags.

If you’re feeling the pinch, head to your local vintage shop — there’s always a suede jacket or two waiting for a new lease of life. You can read our thoughts on vintage here.

Everyone in LA rocks ink. If you’re in the market for a tattoo, our favourite joint is Old Habits out in Hackney. Ask for Clare Frances. She’s a genius.

By Ryan Jessiman, Old Habits Tattoo

Commitment-phobes can get that LA body-mod cool with an earpiercing or three if the tat looks like too much of a trauma. Right now the ‘conch’ and ‘rook’ are in vogue, as is the daintiest triptych of tiny gold hoops. Head to Extreme Needle in Leicester Square — they’re pros, and super-friendly.

And then, of course there’s workout gear. Stand out from the Nike-ticked masses with some under-the-radar activewear brands, like P.E Nation, Australian brand The Upside, Varley and the new athleisure line from thee perennially chic Cole Haan’s.

Gym bags are BIG. Herschel (below) do a great range, as do Lululemon — and you can’t go wrong with a a classic ADIDAS sports bag.

Herschel gym bag

Health and lifestyle
 Everyone knows that California is the home of The Work Out. Pilates, yoga, spinning. It has gifted us with cults like SoulCycle, Barry’s Bootcamp, Rise Nation, and The LIT method. But if there’s one thing Los Angel-aliens are obsessed with above & beyond anything else, it’s hiking, hiking, hiking. Hiking is (whisper it) walking. Sometimes up hills, sometimes skirting round them. Everyone does it. Business meetings on the hoof, first dates, ‘sleb paparazzi- opps. It’s just A Massive Thing, OK?

So, yup, London’s pretty short on Canyons. But check out The London Adventure Group, which provides weekend trails all over the UK — as well as some much needed fresh air.

Oh yes, you’ll need hiking boots. You can’t go wrong with Danner. And since we’re not blessed with La La Land sunshine, you’re gonna need something waterproof. Barbour’s the classic, Carhartt’s great but a bit ubiquitous. We’re obsessed with this Filson jacket. In fact, some of our more adventurous writers have been tramping through the Welsh Black Mountains in it this week. They have a brand new store on Carnaby street.

The latest health trend is Shape House — infrared sauna pods where you lie in heat for 55 mins, sweat gallons and burn up to 1000 calories (apparently). Sounds good to us. You can get your London fix here.

The new ’hydra facial’ is massive. It sounds a bit like waterboarding. We’re not quite sold, but you can check it out here.


So we all know that LA is the birthplace of clean eating and food fads. Juicing is practically a religion. Deliciously Ella very kindly rounded up the best juice bars in London for us- check out her selection here. Our resident foodie Stephanie Achar has been giving you virtuous recipes for over a year now -see the full list here.

California was big on modern Mexican food last year. The newest trend, though, is Filipino cuisine — and it’s already made its way to London. Head to Josephine’s in Fitzrovia, the Adobros Supper Club in New Cross, Cirilo Noodle Bar or Luzon to try it out. The national dish, ‘adobo’, is to die for.

Poke — Hawaiian sushi — is massive in California too. Here’s our list of where to find it in our home town of London.

Everyone knows that the West Coast is all about cars cars cars. And its residents aren’t afraid to drive for an hour or so for the best new opening. So, don’t be afraid to travel for your supper. Of course, London isn’t California. Instead of enormous highways that carve up the landscape, we have congested, winding streets. So nip on the underground instead. Head to that little pop up in Peckham, check out that new brunch spot in Stoke Newington. Explore. It’s a great way to get to know your city better. 

Ah, the vast and desolate Californian desert, with its dusty, tired-out colours and textures, which find their way into West Coast interiors. Think rich and warm — rough-hewn wood, woven textiles and a whole load of succulents. Check out the work of the amazing Christabel Balfour for tapestries. Oka have a pretty good selection, too.

Of course, the best way of all to live like a Californian in London for a few days is to visit the Design Museum and sink into the art and culture of sunny America. California, here we come!

Originally published at www.culturewhisper.com.