Culling through racks of clothing at a Rancho Santa Fe home, Erica Ashley Hecht is on the hunt. It doesn’t take her long to find the perfect piece. “I love this!” she exclaims, eyeing a suede leopard print swing coat with puffy sleeves, circa the 1980s. Her client is a bit dubious that the coat, gathering dust in the closet for decades, will ever again make a fashion statement. But Hecht is persuasive. “Pair that with some leggings and knee high boots,” she insists, “and it’s ready to go again.”

 

Hecht, named among the most stylish people by New York Magazine during last fall’s Fashion Week, is also making a name for herself locally. The 27-year-old Florida native, now transplanted to San Diego, sells her EA Vintage collection at pop-up boutiques around town, including a recent fundraiser for The Country Friends in Rancho Santa Fe. But Hecht insists she doesn’t just sell vintage, she educates customers on how to wear it. “All of a sudden, their minds light up and they are inspired again,”she says. “That’s the best part for me, knowing that a certain person is going to walk away with a piece that I taught them to wear a certain way.” Hecht, who also does styling, wardrobe consulting, and closet makeovers, works with clients to make the old new again.” People think, “Oh, a shirt with shoulder pads? I can’t wear that now. I’m going to look like I popped out of the “80s.” Well you know what? Cut the shoulder pads out, put a belt on, and cinch it.”

 

Hecht’s love for vintage was honed as a child when her mother took her to yard sales early on Saturday mornings, teaching her to read labels and to look for the little touches that make vintage clothing unique. “The details, the quality of the stitching, things were just made with such care back then, less factory-made,” she says. “Vintage is quality. If you can find a vintage piece that is in good condition, hold onto it because, really, you’re holding onto a piece of history.”

 

After earning a degree in fashion merchandising, Hecht managed a boutique at Miami’s W Hotel, selling her vintage finds at antique markets. A trip to New York Fashion Week for the hotel last fall would change her life. She was wearing a vintage pink and black mini-dress with peasant sleeves, cinched with a black leather croc belt, when a photographer asked her to pose for a picture. Her image was posted on NYMag.com, one of “The 20 Most Stylish People” that day. “That’s the moment I realized I had a calling and that I knew I had an eye,” says Hecht. ‘It made me realize it was time to step out and show my talent. Vintage used to be a hobby. Now it’s my life.” (www.eavintageshop.com  ANDREA NAVERSEN

Erica Hecht

Erica Hecht