Influential Indie Designer Boutique Aero & Co. Closes

Veteran Los Angeles boutique Aero & Co. made its reputation by stressing emerging and independent designers. It will shutter its doors by the end of March, said owner Alisa Loftin. The gallery-like store was a victim of the lingering bad economy.

“After the end of 2008, everything went haywire. Financially, I couldn’t do it anymore,” Loftin said.

The boutique championed independent designers since debuting in 1999, when Aero was a partnership between Loftin and designer Cynthia Vincent. Vincent became a silent investor in 2001. In 2002, the store moved from Los Angeles’ Los Feliz neighborhood to its 8403 W. Third St. location, where it helped make West Third Street one of Los Angeles’ most stylish retail neighborhoods. The street continues to be the address of celebrated boutiques South Willard, Douglas Fir and House of Petro Zillia.

The independent lines sold by Aero often had an avant-garde and sometimes irreverent feel. Fashion lines Figment, Blood Is the New Black, Maxine Dillon, Violently Attractive, Anoushka, Margaritasaplala, Octopi, Herff Christiansen and Moss Mills commanded floor space at Aero.

For the past year, Aero earned much of its money by selling jewelry and accessories instead of clothes. Loftin looked for ways to keep the boutique financially afloat. “I had to be committed to survive on a shoestring budget. I had to learn how to run the business more efficiently year-after-year. Consignment was a big part of that. It frees up cash flow. But clothing margins were not substantial enough to run the business,” she said.

Plastica, a neighbor of Aero, will take over Aero’s 1,600-square-foot space, where it will sell plastic furniture and patio furniture. Loftin said she will explore new opportunities, perhaps something in e-commerce where she could sell the works of independent designers.—Andrew Asch