Sisters Kïrsten Elizabeth Blake and Stephanie Helen Blake held a pop-up event in the RiNo Arts District on Saturday, July 23. The event featured the summer collection of Helen Elizabeth Vintage, their new vintage brand named after their two grandmothers. Helen Elizabeth Vintage gave Denver’s vintage scene a splash of sentimentality as it honored the women who came before them through vintage pieces.
The Blake sisters, originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, displayed a curated selection of women’s dresses, skirts, tops, bathing suits, jewelry, hats and purses from the 1930s to the 1990s. They featured a small vintage kids clothing section in their summer collection as well. Their clothing is for customers who value the stories, history and sustainability of vintage clothing and fashion.
Kïrsten, the creator of Helen Elizabeth Vintage, first realized clothing could tell a story when she played dress-up in her grandmothers’ and aunts’ old dresses as a child. Later in life, she worked at a vintage store in New York City to learn more about selling vintage clothing.
“As an adult, I started to buy vintage because I loved the unique styles and the opportunity to creatively express myself. It also provided an alternative to fast fashion,” Kïrsten said.
When Kïrsten’s sister, Stephanie, said she would partner with her to sell vintage clothing, her daydreams about Helen Elizabeth Vintage became a reality. Now they source their inventory from estate sales and thrift stores all over the U.S. and sell it online and in Denver.
“My love for vintage was inspired by Kïrsten and I’m grateful to have the chance to help her make her dream come to life,” Stephanie said.
The sisters always knew they would name the vintage brand after their two inspirational grandmothers, Helen and Elizabeth, who they also got their middle names from. Both women were resourceful and self-sufficient after living through the Great Depression. Their fierce independence was reflected in their respective styles.
“Our Grandmother Helen was both sporty and refined in her style, while our Grandmother Elizabeth was comfortable but with a bit of flair,” Kïrsten said. “Naming the store after them seemed like one way to honor their lives and their contributions to mine.”
As for the sisters’ personal styles, they each have a taste for retro pieces and see fashion as a way to explore and evolve. Kïrsten likes to pair vintage jumpsuits and 70s sundresses with modern pieces, but her favorite items from her collection are those that belonged to her mother or grandmothers. Ultimately, what she wears and curates for Helen Elizabeth Vintage is based on what makes her smile rather than what designer is on the label. Meanwhile, Stephanie likes to add edgy and funky elements to classic looks. She also tends to favor metallic and fringe in her wardrobe.
“Ultimately, I see style as a place to explore, switch it up, take up space and use my voice boldly,” Stephanie said.
The brand has plans to expand its horizons with the possibility of offering styling services in the future. They also hope to utilize vintage pieces that would have otherwise been discarded by reworking them into original designs. As their opportunities grow, they will continue to keep their grandmothers close to the heart of their business.
“Shortly before our grandmother [Elizabeth] died she told me, ‘always do what you love.’ I think Helen Elizabeth Vintage honors that advice,” Stephanie said.
Helen Elizabeth Vintage will officially launch a site later this summer. While they build a platform online, they will continue to offer seasonal collections through pop-up events in Denver. To shop with Helen Elizabeth Vintage and keep up with their upcoming endeavors, visit their Instagram or sign up for their e-newsletter list on their website.