El Cortez mines past for vintage T-shirts

Since coming on to work at the property her family owns, Alexandra Epstein, 26, has helped breathe life into the aging El Cortez. The younger Epstein was granted a chance by her father, Kenny, to help rehabilitate the property’s image. Once an all-but-obsolete den of smoke and slot machines, El Cortez is suddenly in the midst of a downtown revitalization and has found itself relevant again as the only hotel downtown able to capture the attention of the young, bar-hopping hipsters that frequent  Fremont East.

of Epstein’s success comes from her youth, and her willingness to go where other hotels don’t venture. El Cortez opened a boutique hotel called the Cabana Suites, which feel more like L.A. or New York than downtown Las Vegas. She’s partnered with successful street food festival Vegas StrEATS. Her latest foray into unique marketing involves partnering with New York-based T-shirt brand No Mas to create a line of three vintage-inspired designs that center on the casino’s old Vegas image.

No Mas is a sports-centric outfit that creates T-shirts sold at specialty retailers such as Bloomingdales and Los Angeles’ Kitson. No Mas creator Chris Isenberg had a history with vintage Las Vegas after studying boxing history, having done extensive research on Muhammad Ali. After receiving the call from Epstein, Isenberg poured over the El Cortez archives and became enamored with its history. From the mobster days to the fact that the legendary Jackie Gaughan still lives in the penthouse, the history, Isenberg said, is the sort of stuff he is “obsessed” with. He decided to focus on the iconography of vintage matchbooks, and  the result is three T-shirt designs snatched from the very matchbooks your grandfather probably used to light up his smokes. They feature a stag, a galleon and, of course, a winning royal flush in three different colorways.

The three shirt designs went on sale June 29 and are available in the El Cortez gift shop or the No Mas website, nomas-nyc.com/33-new-styles, for $35