By Dave Barton
By LP Hastings
By Sarah Bennett
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By Steve Lowery
By R. Scott Moxley
By Joel Beers
Riches to American RagI’d say it’s the best boutique at Fashion Island, but that’s not really saying much. So I’ll just say it’s the best boutique in Orange County.
Though stylish Angelenos looking for the latest from contemporary designers such as Martin Margiela and Lover know they can always rely on the popular American Rag Cie on La Brea, it seems many OC residents have yet to discover this identical gem tucked amidst the Juicy Couture jogging suits and tiny dogs in tiny sweaters overpopulating Newport Beach’s Fashion Island.
Located in a wing with neighbors Pinkberry and Muttropolis, the Newport Beach American Rag is only about 2 years old, but its selection is more comprehensive than any other high-end, contemporary boutique in the county—it even blows South Coast Plaza’s Barney’s Co-op out of the water. Seriously.
Do you know how difficult it is to track down Martin Margiela in Orange County? No other single storefront within county lines carries everything from Rag & Bone, Marc by Marc Jacobs, and See by Chloé to Vanessa Bruno, Trovata, Paul Smith, RVCA and MCQ.
Though about a quarter of the store is dedicated to vintage goods and accessories, don’t come here if you’re looking for a bargain. Remember, you’re paying all sorts of finders’ fees when you’re purchasing vintage and consignment from higher-end shops. They’re doing all the work for you, gathering only the best for your perusal.
When asked about the vision for the store, Mark Werts Jr., son and namesake of the owner, shares that he hopes American Rag embodies a certain patchwork lifestyle unique to California. “We’re a lifestyle branding store and try to make sure that we present you with the best fashions possible,” Werts says. “We travel all over the world, whether it be Japan, Australia, France or Italy.”
There’s really nothing like it in Orange County. And probably nothing better.
But here’s the thing. As ridiculous and costly as my love affair is with American Rag, I’ve remained a frequent, loyal customer of all three California locations. The Newport store’s one major downfall is its staff. Time and again, customer service is basically nonexistent. You’re greeted with nothing but blank stares. Oh, they see you seeing them—and they don’t care.
We’re all used to the occasional salesperson who thinks you don’t belong in “their” shop, but my last visit to the store yielded nothing but a couple of slow blinks and glib, terse retorts.
Look, shit’s tough right now. And if you can’t even fake a smile to help move a few $700 Loeffler Randall leather totes or $17 Moroccan glasses? Maybe it’s time to move on.
American Rag Cie, 401 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 760-1510; www.amrag.com. Open Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.