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Interview With Marmalade Vintage

In preparation for our Seasoned Street photo shoot we pulled some extra special pieces from Lower East Side staple Marmalade Vintage. This store was one we knew prior to our shoot, it was, in fact, the place we bought our first (and favorite) pair of high waisted Wrangler shorts, back in our NYU days. Needless to say, we've a soft spot for the shop and wanted to interview the owner and buyer, Hannah Kurland, about all things vintage. Our interview below.

How did Marmalade begin?

It was 1998 and my closet was overflowing . some friends were selling at the flea market so i joined them. Instead of simply space-clearing my closet, I found myself unabashedly indulging in my inclination -- or should I say, addict-like compulsion -- for treasure hunting. I was quickly amassing a collection that could no longer be contained in my wardrobe or a booth at the market.  I was lucky to stumble into a commercial space just downstairs from my apartment on the LES. It was a sublet and a bunch of kids were living in the back of the shop --  a very different situation from the high rents/high gloss establishments found on the ludlow street of today. (I would come in some mornings to find the store reeking of beer from the previous late-night gatherings of my co-tenants)  At that time, there was really no one else selling vintage down here.  I think Cherry Vintage had just opened on Orchard Street (they have since moved), but that 'every-girl-and-her-mother-opening-a-vintage-shop/lower-east-side-as-the-vintage-shopping-destination' phenomenon had not happened yet.  Pat Field helped to make vintage much more accessible with her work on Sex and the City. I remember when Sarah Jessica mentioned a dress she had gotten from Marmalade in Vogue in 2001. Immediately following that, random upper-east-side ladies started showing up at the shop. Back then some people balked at the idea of 80's items being covetable. Now, in 2008, we have designers and collectors seeking out 90's details. Every thing comes around again. Every fashion moment has its place.

And my closet is still overflowing….

How did Marmalade begin What is the aesthetic of the store, or, what era/price point do you carry?

The aesthetic at Marmalade might be described as eclectic, colorful, multi-textural, thoughtfully miss-matched, more is more, rock and roll…Although marmalade is more on the maximalist end of the aesthetic spectrum, we love interesting details and silhouettes from every era. You might find an architectural 80's cape/coat hanging alongside a slim high waisted pair of 70's ralph lauren trousers; an appliqued snakeskin Maud Frizon belt next to a pair of lady-like herbert levin 60's loafers; a sweet 50's print sundress grouped with an 80's zippered jumpsuit. We love it all! Many items have designer labels. Some are defunct department store brands, but each piece is selected for its design merit, wearability (or utter ridiculousness...), relevance to current trends or timelessness or uniqueness…


How often do you buy for the store--is it the same schedule/process as most buyers?

We are constantly searching, pillaging, rummaging, hunting and on the prowl because sourcing vintage requires endless/seasonless/ tireless attention; amazing pieces can reveal themselves anywhere and a collector must always be prepared! As a result of our nonstop buying, there is a continual supply of new merchandise arriving in the store each week.  In addition to what finds its way into the shop, we have an archive of goods that are stored for the following season(s), or for designers and stylist rentals. 
The Lower East Side has seen quite a few changes over the last ten years. Can you tell us what it means to have a store in this neighborhood today?

As the Lower East Side has become a shopping destination for tourists and wearing vintage has become more mainstream, we've been joined by many more vintage shops, as well as noisy construction sites, around the neighborhood and our customer base has certainly grown. The threat of loosing our lease has been looming as our neighborhood continues to be 'developed'. We hope we can stay right here on Ludlow Street, but if we get priced out, we trust that our chic and forward-thinking customers will follow us some where out there into the unknown ...around the corner, chinatown, bushwick, who knows…

What vintage item should every woman have in her closet for Spring 09?

We hope to feel refreshed and re-inspired in Spring 09.  Gobama!  We're thinking boxy linen blazers, jumpsuits to be continued, 80's pleated pants and high-waisted skirts, 70's ankle-length dresses, 90's accessories and interesting footwear from any era should do the trick.  Shoulder pads!

What vintage item should every woman have in her closet forever?

A sturdy pair of Italian leather boots -- we suggest owning several pairs in various colors, heel heights, and with different details.  Also, modernist jewelry and a classic coat -- we always love silhouettes from the 1960's. Something passed down - perhaps from a well dressed aunt or grandmother. Vintage garments offer their wearers a sense of personal history that adds layers of interest and individuality to a particular look or style.

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