Collaboration Announcement: Marie Sirakos of The Vintage Industry

published Dec. 11, 2018

by Omar Abdul-Rahim

Thread Magazine is incredibly excited to announce an artistic collaboration with Marie Sirakos, owner of The Vintage Industry. Her knowledge of vintage is as impressive as her collection is rich, and we are ecstatic to be working with her. I went to her shop to ask her some questions about herself, the world of vintage, and our collaboration:

OA: Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

MS: I am the proprietor of The Vintage Industry, a small vintage and antiques shop, in Ithaca, NY. Additionally, I am a theatre artist who has worked as a Teaching Artist for The Hangar Theatre, as an actor, director and a playwright. I graduated from The University of Pittsburgh with degrees in English Literature and Theatre Arts. I have held a variety of jobs in the world, and explored many different ventures including non-profit arts management, large event and festival direction, and various forms of educational work.

OA: What is the origin story of your interest in vintage?

MS: My mother was quite an inspiration, as a hobbyist antique dealer and costume designer throughout my childhood. With her, I began buying and selling antiques and collectibles at about the age of nine, and have been doing so (in one form or another) ever since. My interest in fashion was almost innate and has been a strong part of my identity for as long as I can remember. I began seeking out and wearing vintage garments around the age of eleven. I was the tiny girl in middle school wearing a 1950’s circle skirt or a 1960’s mini dress paired with a 1940’s wool blazer.

OA: How and why did you found your store, The Vintage Industry?

MS: The story of The Vintage Industry began nearly ten years ago, when I worked with my then business partner to establish Blue Bird Antiques, which started in the same storefront that my business currently occupies. When my partner decided to leave the business for other ventures, I assumed the space and rebranded the shop to The Vintage Industry. This occurred approximately five years ago. Since then, my business has focused much more solidly in the realm of Vintage fashion, art, and design. And has extended to various online and social media venues.

OA: What makes vintage special to you, and how does that manifest in your store?

MS: First, vintage is sustainable. My work in the shop seeks to create an alternative to the quality and general undesirability of the fast-fashion industry. Next, I approach vintage fashion, furniture and lighting design, art, and accessories, in a curatorial way. Everything at my shop is selected and chosen, one item at a time. It is a very instinctual process. So when a client visits my shop, they are visiting my collection of the moment. And it is constantly changing. As a result, I am never bored and find incredible joy in my work.

OA: How do you see the rest of the fashion and design world from your corner of it?

MS: Coming from the vintage realm, I am aware of how much the current fashion and design industry selectively “borrows” from the vintage and antique. It is fascinating to watch larger trends ebb and flow, as well as to witness what consumers purchase from my shop. You can almost extrapolate where trends are going next, based on what choosy clients buy and show interest in. And also, in working with clients that buy and sell in other markets (such as Japan, Los Angeles, New York, Italy), I am able to participate in a larger dialogue about what is selling and trending outside of our little realm of Ithaca, NY.

OA: Can you tell me about the fashion/vintage community in Ithaca?

MS: Ithaca has a deep and interesting fashion/vintage community, with expressive and bold locals, and with individuals from such a varied cultural origin, in thanks to the shifting populations of Cornell University and Ithaca College. Additionally, the design programs at Cornell University (I believe) really foster boldness and innovation in Ithaca’s fashion. I experience everything from the client that works two jobs on the Commons while wearing bold vintage hats and colorful dresses and outerwear mostly from the 1920s era and the 1980s, to a strong segment of gender flexible / neutral dressers, to our local performers in the burlesque and drag scenes, to the middle schooler who likes to wear Victorian bodices to school. It seems to include all ages and life situations.

OA: Have you recently had a piece come into your store that you are particularly excited about?

MS: I acquired two separate collections recently that had not seen the light of day in nearly sixty years. A few highlights include a full Victorian Riding Dress, a Bedoin embroidered silk dress from the 1920s, a silk embroidered kimono from the 1940s with a fantastic colorway, and a homemade dressing gown made of the most fantastic and colorful Aesthetic Movement fabric. The last one I have decided to add to my personal collection. But literally, I acquire things almost every day. Some other noteworthy pieces I have found in the last few months (focusing here on garments only) include a 1930s denim engineers workwear coat, a pair of authentic 1950s Levi’s, a smart Bonnie Cashin coat, and a 1980s cardigan sweater with multi-color neon TV’s woven into the pattern and buttons in the shape of television knobs. I could go on and on like this.

OA: And finally, after looking at the work we’ve done in our FW18 issue and before, what are you most excited about in regard to collaboration with Thread?

MS: Collaboration with Thread Magazine will be inspirational and evocative. Finding the places where mutual interest intersect, pushing the dialogue toward next level trend estimation / creation within the market, and for me, just being exposed to the sensibilities and mindset of Thread Magazine participants, will be refreshing for me. The possibilities for where our collaborative work will begin and ultimately land, is virtually unlimited.

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