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We first visited Lara's on Sunday, and we were ready to completely slam the store here. But a funny thing happened: We had to go back the the Americana at Brand, anyway, and wanted to try to get a picture of the red, strapless, faux-pleather, croc-print minidress we spied at the store on our first visit. As we wandered around the store, we noticed a lot of cute stuff. You'd never mistake any of it for Phillip Lim, Barneys, or Rachel Pally (some of it does a passable job of approximating Betsey Johnson), but there's still a few pieces that we wouldn't kick out of our closet.
Another thing Lara's has going for it: it's really big and nicely laid out. Yes, it's the old Kitson space. 15,000 square feet. This puts Lara's on the same playing field as Americana stalwarts H&M and Forever21. It takes serious cojones to go into a big mall, sans name recognition or even a Web presence, and try to wrangle discount-happy shoppers away from those two behemoths.
Lara's is two floors. Downstairs is casual wear, jeans, jackets, and daytime party dresses. Admittedly, a lot of it looks very similar to the clothing found in the Frederick's of Hollywood catalog, or Newport News. Most of it at very reasonable prices: quite a few dresses for $40 to $50; many blouses in the $20 to $30 range. It's all at least as well made as what you'd find at Forever21.
The entire upstairs is devoted to clubwear, shoes, and a few sale racks. The clubwear is all?very clubby. Our "favorite" piece was the aforementioned red minidress (pictured). There was an entire rack devoted to shiny, rainbow-colored leopard print on faux snakeskin lycra dresses. Also a little enclave of shiny, bedazzled clutches. But again, all at reasonable prices.
And, thinking back, this is the section that left such a terrible taste in our mouths during our first inspection. But we are obviously not the target market, so who are we to judge? After all, sometimes a girl just wants to go to a club in the Valley and do bodyshots with a guy wearing FUBU jeans and a SMET sweatshirt, while dancing to some horrible David Guetta/Britney Spears remix?and Lara's is there for her clothing needs.
So we can't say we loved Lara's, and it's certainly not the first place we'd think of for shopping at the Americana. But it's actually refreshing that they're not just cloning one of the bigger retailers, or ripping off looks from other designers. More power to 'em.
· Kitson Goes Lower-Rent, Making Way For Lara's Closet [Racked LA]