This story is part of Image Issue 16, “Interiority,” a living archive of LA culture, style, and fashion that shows how the city moves from within. Read the entire issue here.
Sisters Rebecca and Ursula Recinos, who run the Sister Kokoro vintage collection, started saving from an early age, sometimes buying things and reconstructing them themselves. The brothers, both in their 30s, mostly grew up around Echo Park. They were four years apart, but they remembered how their mother used to dress them the same way—“like twins,” Ursula says with a laugh, noting how her older sister always “inspired” her.
Rebecca and Ursula founded Sister Kokoro in 2016. It used to be an antique shop, but now the sisters focus more on pop-ups and styling for music videos and photoshoots. They love to mix things up: mixing vintage pieces from Sunday’s Best and East LA Nostalgia with independent designers like Groovy Daze, Rodarte and Miracle Eye. Their collection of vintage clothing ranges from the 1950s to the 90s, from lacy scarves to sparkling disco.
As for the brand name, it was inspired by Rebecca’s time living in Kyoto, Japan. He is fascinated by the name of his friend’s daughter, Kokoro, which means “heart” in Japanese.
“We don’t really want to use the word ‘vintage,’ because we are more than just a vintage shop,” says Ursula. “We’re really influenced by music, film, and photography — it’s all a combination of us.”
For Rebecca, it was Jean-Luc Godard, Agnés Varda, “The Virgin Suicides” and “Trainspotting”. For Ursula, it’s rock ‘n’ roll and skateboarding, but also “Dazed and Confused” and Sofia Coppola. For Sister Kokoro, clothing is a means of inhabiting new characters and worlds. This is a form of time travel.
Elisa Wouk Almino: Why antique?
Ursula Recipe: I’ve always wanted to live in a different era. Dressing like that when I was younger, it made me feel cool – apparently, not many people wore this stuff. It’s rather rare to see people dressed like me. Sometimes they’ll be like, what are you wearing? I get a lot from it. I will be very brave about that. I think it’s because these pieces are so different, and I’m kind of different in some ways, so [I’ve been] able to express yourself with vintage pieces.
Rebecca Recinos: We wear all this not-so-trendy stuff — even though, you know, things have changed a lot now. I think it’s really cool to be able to incorporate some vintage in your wardrobe, because you’re reusing things. And it’s important to be sustainable, or at least try.
UR: Because nowadays it’s hard. Even vintage can be expensive, so not many people can afford it.
RR: But that’s just the really cool part. Even though I don’t have too many 30’s and 40’s, 50’s stuff, the stuff that I do have — I love the fabric, the rayon. They are very beautiful, they are very beautifully built.
EWA: Have you ever looked into the story behind the clothes you get?
UR: Yeah—for example, if we come across this really pretty dress, I’m going to think about Greece, how they wore this beautiful dress, or back in the 70’s, how they wore a dress and prom or prom. I kind of made up a whole story in my head about it.
RR: We’ve seen some parts that are almost synonymous with movies and TV shows – especially now with certain shows like “Stranger Things” – the 80s.
EWA: What’s one of your favorite works that you own?
UR: I’d say this black velvet cloak. I’ve used it so much it’s pretty messed up. But I won’t give up.
RR: I have a lot of them, but all I can think of right now are these Penny Lane type coats. It feels, wow, when you put it on and go to a concert.
UR: All the clothes in that movie [“Almost Famous”] very cool. Penny Lane has always been a huge inspiration since we were young. So, we both have Penny Lane coats.
EWA: How would you describe each other’s styles?
UR: We really like layering. For example, if we wear vintage Wrangler bell pants or a jacket we just bought, start now, and then mix everything together — layering is a big deal for us. Some things might seem like they don’t fit, but we just make it work — even if they’re stripes and polka dots. You might think it’s out of place, but such things are fun to try.
RR: When I was in Kyoto, Japan, they like to do lots of layers.
UR: When I go to visit, I also see a lot of things and it’s very inspiring. It’s a unisex thing – they mix things up really well. It can be very simple and plain but then it looks very stylish. We are more maximal, but as we get older, there are times when I want to simplify things.
RR: We love statement pieces, but we also love to dress all black sometimes [laughs].
UR: I’ve always loved Mary Kate and Ashley – they dress all in black but are so stylish.
RR: I think Ursula was heavily influenced by classic rock. But we also both love the subtle kind of dress —
UR: Dream dress. And I thought [Rebecca does] the layering is pretty good – she does a lot of the lines, and the trousers – she wears them really well.
EWA: What do you each bring to a set? How do you complement each other?
UR: We are sisters, so we will definitely meet [laughs]. But then we were like, “Okay, you’re better at that, so you focus on that, and I focus on this.” It’s great to have a partnership. I feel he is more organized, I am quite spontaneous. I like to go with the flow – but I do need some kind of structure, which is where he comes in. I want to make sure that everything is fun.
RR: I tend to be a planner. I started early, arranged a lot of clothes, but then I ran into it and asked, “What do you think of this?”
UR: I am an extrovert but introvert at the same time —
RR: I’m more of an introvert, but I have to be an extrovert when I have to [laughs].
UR: I guess it just got a little easier for me, in some ways.
Rebecca: We are both Aries…
UR: Yes [laughs]both are fire signs!
EWA: What are some of your favorite vintage stores and designers in LA?
RR: We’ve done the Los Feliz flea market many times. There are lots of great vintage sellers.
UR: There are so many types of vintage — in our last pop-up, our neighbors focused solely on denim.
I do a lot of shopping at Gimme Danger because they have a lot of cool band jerseys and sweaters and they are very rock ‘n’ roll. They reprint on vintage T-shirts. We still do a lot of thrift and vintage, so it’s not as well known — in LA, OC, the Valley, Long Beach. We really love shoes, like Jeffrey Campbell.
EWA: You recently styled dancers from the LA Dance Project, working with stylist Keyla Marquez — a story that also features in this issue! I’d love to hear about your process with the shoot.
RR: It was great to draw from different LA designers and gain insight from Keyla. We made some of this LA style [and mixed them] with our own [collection] — [adding] our own touch to it.
I felt the dancers had fun dressing up. At first it was going to be one look, but it ended up being two or three because they were like, “we want to try this!”
UR: Something we keep in mind is the fact that they are dancers, and this pose will be very movement oriented, so we want to make sure they can feel comfortable and move —
RR: And be themselves.
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