How many times have you checked out another girl’s outfit and then mentally “pinned” everything she has on? Guilty as charged! So, instead of standing idly by making mental Pinterest boards, I decided to ask some women I find irresistibly chic to give me a peek into their closets.
Meet Kara and Brit Smith, two rad sisters-cum-fashion designers behind the LA label Elkin.
The name Elkin came to them after visiting a taxidermy shop in LA. Inspired by an elk head that they describe as “feminine, masculine, fragile, and strong,” they combined the word with kin (a nod to their kinship), and Elkin was born.
The designers describe the Elkin girl as “adventurous, unpredictable, mysterious, and eternally youthful.” Each piece in the collection embodies their effortlessly, cool California vibe.
I spent the day with them shooting their ultra-charming studio, and here’s what I discovered: as sisters often can, they finish each other’s sentences, they have a secret language (Pig Latin), and, you are about to see a lot more of them on the LA fashion scene!
Read on, and then I dare you to tell me you don’t want to be in their family!
Kara, left, in an Alexander Wang stripe tee, Citizens of Humanity jeans, vintage bolero, and Bass penny loafers. Brit, right, in an American Apparel black crop top, vintage polka dot shorts, and vintage 1940s lace-up boots.
How they name their collections: “The style names of each collection are an homage to the past/time period we are referencing, be it a literary genre, film, song, or location. We also like to look to woman of the past who were strong and influential in their time, women who broke the rules and lived recklessly and broke boundaries.”
Inside Studio Elkin
Their most coveted vintage piece: “The dress next to our vanity is our grandmother’s wedding dress. She had a garden wedding in LA’s Hancock Park in 1954. The dress is so delicate and beautiful; it serves as constant inspiration. We love clothes that tell a story and we love that this dress is from the 50’s yet still looks modern.”
Their grandmother’s wedding dress on display
They find inspiration: “From our travels, flea markets, unexpected vintage stores that we pass by on road trips. A lot of the objects on our vanity are a mix of personal finds from our travels to other countries, as well as polaroids and old perfume bottles and powder jars. We have a favorite antique store in LA’s Echo Park that we love called Minnettes, and we also like scouring local neighborhood vintage stores for interesting objects.”
Le Petit Prince, a Christmas gift from Kara to Brit, among other collected items
Kara on Brit’s style: “Brit can put anything on and look like the coolest girl in the universe. She takes big risks with her style daily, and I always die when she walks in the door. Clearly I’m obsessed.”
Brit, in a vintage Native American hat from Rosebowl Flea Market, with the Fall 2013 collection
Brit on Kara’s style: “She’s just the coolest I think. Her lifestyle clearly mirrors her fashion style. It’s usually dark, edgy, humorous and always imperfect, which I love. She doesn’t care what other people think, which is the best kind of style to have.”
One of many of Brit’s fab vintage finds: “I got my saddle bag at an incredible vintage store in Burbank called Playclothes. Our mom actually introduced us to this store years ago. Kara and I can’t get enough of this store.”
The story behind the photos: “Kara surprised me with this blown up, framed photo when we moved into our first studio downtown LA. We always loved that picture of us as kids because we look like such weird Jim Henson creatures but also so innocent and happy. The one on the floor is Z Berg from the band JJAMZ, from our first collection’s lookbook shoot. It’s cool to look back and see what we’ve done since that photo/time.”
On the drink that defines them: “Our friend who is a mixologist created ‘The Elkin,’ which is a mix of grapefruit rind infused gin, fresh grapefruit juice, Meyer lemon, homemade lavender reduction, lime, agave nectar, topped with champagne and zested with grapefruit. It’s the perfect mix of the two of us: complicated but refreshingly easy-to-drink and sneaks up on you because it has so much alcohol.”
The studio bar, with a mix of infused alcohol
Kara on the matching tattoos: “I got mine before Brit. I convinced her to get one to match me. She was not happy for a few days after she did it.”
Brit on the matching tattoos: “Yes, I got my star for Kara and then tried to get it removed the next day because I had a panic attack. But now I love it and it’s a part of me.”
You can shop the collection online at Shopbop. What’s more, Kara and Brit have teamed up with non-profit organization H.O.P.E (Helping Other People Everywhere), and every Elkin piece sold will allow one children’s book to be donated to a wonderful organization that brings literature and art to children in need.