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Conscious Consumerism and Classic Craftsmanship

September 2011

By Kateri O’Neil, Los Angeles

As green-washing has spawned a plethora of logos featuring obligatory leafy graphics, mock-yarn prints, stencil fonts that resemble fair-trade stamps, and color palettes comprised of redundant shades of recycled-beige, soil browns, and chlorophyll green, it seems fair to say that green aesthetics are still going strong in LA. In addition to “going green,” another trend has also been sweeping the City of Angels: a trend infused with old-timey retroism and steeped in rose-tinted nostalgia.

“Healthy” is undoubtedly hip in LA and the solar-powered, vegetable oil-fueled, compost-friendly Green Truck is only gaining steam; I joined hundreds of art collectors last week to savor a smorgasbord of organic goodies on the go—(and discover new artists!)—during Culver City’s art walk. Health nuts seeking more substantial fare flock to Forage and Sage—the former a Silverlake hotspot where food is sourced from a collective of local farmers and the latter, an organic vegan bistro nestled in Echo Park.

Old-school spots like Clifton’s Cafeteria and Musso & Frank’s have been enjoying a resurgence in popularity, as have retro fast-food joints like Pink’s (they even named a hot dog after William and Kate!). Similarly, eateries like Cole’s and The Edison pay homage to LA’s golden era through refurbished interiors and period menus.

Post-dinner, Los Angeles’ finest dash to deluxe old-timey watering holes like The Varnish, Monty, Villain’s Tavern, and Harvard & Stone to sip meticulously-crafted cocktails inspired by bygone eras; the drinks only enhance the experience as the décor is so impeccably retro that the speakeasy setting feels convincingly authentic.

This “throwback” motif implies heritage, timelessness, and authenticity; many local and national brands have jumped on this bandwagon, employing vintage graphics and retro fonts that recall an era when quality trumped quantity and when standards were a sine qua non of success. Earlier this year, the LA Dodgers wore 1940’s throwback uniforms during six games and promotions are increasingly punctuated with buzzwords like “artisanal” and “hand-crafted.” One need look no further than Target’s “Archer Farms” brand and Domino’s new semi-ironic “Artisan Pizza” to witness this fad. In this moment in time when the future feels synthetic and uncertain, the past feels comforting and reassuring. In lieu of sterile, generic homogeneity and machine-made mass-production, experiences that feel more intimate and personalized are winning.

Food & Drink
Los Angeles

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