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Helvak & The Search for the Perfect Black Hoodie

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Self-proclaimed “stealthwear with a conscience” handmade/vegan clothing company Helvak was spawned in Pittsburgh, PA in 2014 out of a mutual desire that owner, Frances SanGregory, and her partner, Nick SanGregory (owner of Six16 Body Piercing and Fine Jewelry), shared: finding the perfect black hoodie.

This may sound simple. How hard can it be? A simple black sweatshirt with clean lines and an oversized hood to protect from the elements and to act as an introvert shield— that would help to hide away from the world, as needed. However, many of us also know the plight of trying to find the perfect black hoodie. Frances and Nick searched high and low, to the far corners of the interwebs, and they discovered that what they wanted simply did not exist. The jacket was either too baggy, too long, too cloak-like; or the hood was too pointy, not big enough, etc. And so like many resourceful inventors, when Frances could not find what she wanted, she set out to create it. 


Original Women’s Zip-Up Doomlord Hoodie

After much exhausting trial and error, the Doomlord was finally born. Named after a cloaked character Nick created in his paintings, the Doomlord was the amalgamation of Frances’ vision and creativity, and it became Helvak’s signature piece, complete with cozy extra-long sleeves, a double zipper with a goat pull, and of course, a huge structured hood.

The specially-designed Doom hood is a classic and beloved silhouette and has evolved and branched out, adorning Helvak zip-ups, pullovers, long sleeves, crops, sleeveless Doomlords, and dresses.


Although the Doom hood and Doomlord are responsible for launching Helvak into the alternative fashion industry, Helvak is no one-trick pony. As perfect as the Doomlord may be, Helvak has proven that they have much more than hoodies to offer, with everything from autopsy-inspired tank tops to faux Mongolian fur shoulder details that evoke a sense of high-fashion.


They have gained a cult-following from slow/indie fashion darklings and vegans alike, as they are also a 100% cruelty-free company.

“Helvak is a vegan company, because I believe, and will defend to the death, the right of every sentient being to its own bodily autonomy. I believe in independence, I believe in doing what makes you happy; whether that means starting your own clothing company or eating daisies in a field. It is my hope that this belief will continue to grow until we can all say the same thing.” — Frances SanGregory.

Helvak flaunts a dark, sleek, but understated style and most of their pieces are gender-neutral. They appear comfortable but high-end, while still being completely vegan… is that not everything a darkling could ask for in their clothing?

As they have continued to grow, Helvak has moved into a larger workspace and warehouse in Pittsburgh. In order the maintain their handmade, made-to-order system during their transition to the new space, a new online shop, and new designs, Helvak operated on a monthly ordering system, only opening for a short period of time at the beginning of each month to accept a certain number of orders. With sales coming in quicker and quicker every month, it is with much excitement that Helvak will be opening their shop for good on March 1 at 12 pm EST.

This launch is exceptionally exciting, with a brand new redesigned version of the women’s Doomlord being released (permanently replacing the old design), as well as other new styles such as the gorgeous Revenant wrap jacket. The original men’s Doomlord will still be available for a few more weeks before it is also replaced with a new and improved design.

We can’t wait to see what else Helvak brings to our coffins and closets in 2017. Keep up with the latest designs on their Instagram and shop their collection here.

All images courtesy of Geoffrey Ladd at GMLmedia.

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About The Author

Julia is a Jane-of-all-trades, master of none: Pittsburgh photographer, writer, art therapist, feminist, collector, curator, creep, and crazy cat lady. She has her own online shop specializing in Victorian mourning antiques, and also is an assistant at Curiosity Shop tattoo/vintage shop. An introverted old soul with a passion for small businesses and all the beautiful things. Follow her on Instagram.

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