Artist name: Erin Blank of ErinElsie
Erin Blank is gifted in giving fabrics new life. She lovingly blends vintage and fresh fabrics and styles into vibrant and flattering handmade designs. Her brand ErinElsie offers unique pieces for anyone seeking lovely, bohemian, handcrafted fashion. The outfits above and below show her gift for creating looks with beautiful shapes and precise, one-of-a-kind details. Her clothing designs reveal a love of life, of creating, and an honoring of the past (read about her grandmother Elsie’s influence below). Erin Blank was a featured designer in a project presented by “Downy,” called Beyond the Fabric.
Featured Works: fashion slideshow
5 Questions for the Artist/Designer:
1. What is fashion design to you?
“For me, fashion design always starts with the materials. When I encounter a material that inspires me, I know because the ideas start spinning in my head! My main inspiration is recycling old, vintage materials into new beautiful items, pieces that now have stories that go much behind the design. At the rate that we waste textiles in this world, my inspiration will never run out! I am inspired by thrifting and the unique fabrics and up-cycling opportunities I find there. Also, a lot of friends and families give me things when they clean out a closet, basement, or attic, and I love it. I am a draper and rarely ever sketch unless I’m doing a custom piece for a client. I sometimes feel self-conscious about not sketching much, but it’s just how I work.”
2. What did you make in the past, and why?
“I’ve only ever made one-of-a-kind things, so there are so many. Some favorites? I made this one gown with recycled vintage ties, denim, and several other fabrics. I saw this group of vintage ties, thought about the history attached to each, and immediately had the idea for this super feminine dress bodice. The items change, but the process usually follows that pattern. I made a little collection of items from these old Hawaiian shirts I picked up at a church charity shop in Hawaii. When I got there, they were about to close and I begged them to let me through. This sweet man ushered me to this funny closet, and it was filled with these old worn and torn Hawaiian shirts. He said he had more than he knew what to do with. The fabrics were beautiful, but forgotten, and I was immediately inspired to give them a new beautiful life! I’ve done a lot of pieces with recycled denim, it’s one of my favorite neutrals to use. Denim was literally created to last, and it’s amazing how much people discard it with fast fashion- that inspires me even more to create really beautiful items with it.”
3. What are you making now, and why?
“I’m making pieces from cozy winter fabrics, such as up-cycling old sweaters and flannels into beanies, scarves and clothing items. So many lux sweaters get tossed if they have one hole or tear. I was inspired to turn those into something beautiful and useful! The other big item in progress is a custom wedding dress. I’m transforming someone’s mother’s old wedding dress into a new, more modern one for her. It’s a little intimidating to cut someone’s mom’s wedding dress, but it’s also an honor and the epitome of what I love to do!”
4. What are your hopes for the future?
“To do what I love full time, all the time!!! I currently do freelance jobs to supplement my income while trying to build my design business. In the future, I hope to be able to invest all of my time into my designing. I currently do everything myself; sourcing, designing, sewing, packing, shipping, etc. In the future, I hope to ethically produce some of my ideas on a larger scale in small local factories, and to get them into more boutiques.”
5. Do you want to add anything?
“Although building an artistic business can be hard sometimes, I absolutely love it. Failures can be discouraging and I have learned to embrace the journey and learn from them. I’m also grateful for my super supportive husband, family, and friends for believing in my endeavors!”
Artist Supplied Background:
Erin Blank, born and raised in southern Louisiana, now resides in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, Ben. Her work, ErinElsie, consists of lovingly handmade, one of a kind clothing and accessories with stories that go much beyond the design. Each piece is created from reclaimed materials re-purposed for new life. It is lovingly named to honor her grandmother, Elsie, who inspired her design process and inspiration She endeavors to work in a way that values quality craftsmanship, the materials, and the history behind those materials. In an age of disposable clothing, she longs to always make things that are special to their owners, with superior handmade quality. The “Erin” represents a modern, perhaps slight edginess to the design, and the “Elsie” (her grandmother) represents salvaging and creatively using reclaimed, special materials. Together they form, ErinElsie. To help support building her design business, Erin also stays very busy working as a freelance photo stylist. ErinElsie and Erin Blank are also on Instagram.
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