Stroll under the High Roller onto the Linq’s shop-lined thoroughfare, and one of the first things you’ll see is the sign for Sprinkles. The Beverly Hills-based bakery sells gourmet cupcakes, ice cream and cookies with a side of celebrity endorsement. When you dig into that red velvet confection, you know you’re eating the same sweet treat that Oprah, Blake Lively and Jimmy Kimmel have enjoyed. It’s all very Hollywood, a frosting-topped slice of LA in Las Vegas.
Wander a bit farther and you’ll bump into Kitson, the LA-born boutique that has built its entire brand around the “effortlessly fashion-forward Los Angeles lifestyle.”
And a few miles north on Las Vegas Boulevard, the future home of the LA-import SLS hotel is fenced off behind advertisements for its signature offerings: The Bazaar by José Andrés, Umami Burger, the Sayers Club and Fred Segal—all sophisticated brands, all from Southern California.
There may not be a Hollywood sign hovering above the purloined icons on the Strip, but it’s easy to recognize a growing trend: We’re importing LA.
Of course, the idea of borrowing from other destinations is nothing new here. We’ve put the Eiffel Tower in the desert, set the Statue of Liberty overlooking a casino and routed Venice’s canals under ceilings painted to look like clouds. But adopting brands from Los Angeles seems an especially odd choice. After all, the City of Angels is only four hours away; people joke that Vegas is just a far-flung suburb.
Indeed, 26 percent of Las Vegas’ roughly 40 million visitors hailed from Southern California in 2013. That’s more than the visitor count from every country outside the U.S. combined. Hit the I-15 any Friday or Sunday and you’ll see them, braving the traffic, driving the four-plus hours to cut loose, drink too much and enjoy a weekend away. What will they think of making the trip to find an entire casino stocked with restaurants, clubs and shops they have at home? Will they book a table at the Bazaar? Will they buy a naughty gnome at Kitson? Or will they walk right past the Vegas outposts of familiar venues and think, If I wanted to play in LA I would’ve just stayed home?