Mariuka Corsini is the go-to designer for many of today’s most popular musicians. Since she started her clothing brand, Siam Circle, in 2019, her designs have been featured in Big Sean’s music videos, worn by pop stars such as Lana Del Rey and Princess Nokia, and eyed by the electropop trio Major Lazer as the uniform for their world tour (before the coronavirus intervened).
Corsini’s aesthetic—combining 90s retro- and streetwear—and her sustainable approach to fashion are beloved by Generation Z and millennials. All the label’s jeans, T-shirts, corsets, and sweatshirts are “upcycled,” or made out of re-purposed vintage clothes.
Last month, I met with Corsini at her pop-up shop on Crosby Street, in SoHo. The store, which was open for just under two weeks, sold Siam Circle’s signature patchwork jeans, crocheted tops, and printed denim minidresses. Corsini wore a pair of those jeans and a top she made by sewing together two old t-shirts, where half a Nike logo meets half an Adidas logo.
“Fashion has always been my dream,” she says.
Half American, half Italian, Corsini is a triplet and the firstborn of eight siblings. She grew up in Rome but left for Connecticut at age 16 to attend boarding school. On weekends, she traveled to New York City, where boutiques and street style caught her interest.
Throughout high school, Corsini had several summer internships in fashion, including one at Tory Burch. But she left discouraged. “I loved it, but I was always turned off by the whole industry,” she says. “I’d … inevitably think of the bad quality of most things—and the waste factor.”
In 2013, when she enrolled at the American University of Paris, she stopped pursuing fashion to study media and communications. Once she graduated, she went east for a job at an advertising agency in Singapore. But she “felt super-sad because I had this nagging feeling that all I wanted to do was be in fashion.”
Corsini’s entry point into the industry came on a trip to Thailand in 2018, when she visited warehouses just outside Bangkok where thousands of tons of clothes are shipped and arranged into sections for resale. “You go and there’s the denim department, the windbreaker department, the cotton-T-shirt department,” she explains. “You can go and find whatever you’re looking for.”
After she’d spent days in the warehouse picking out clothes, Corsini went on a stroll through a weekend market called Chatuchak. She thought the coolest garments on sale were pieces that had been made by stitching together re-purposed vintage items. “It was very spur-of-the-moment. I just bought a little bit of clothing from [Thai designers], did a few patchwork things myself, and then did a [New York] pop-up,” she says. “I knew there and then I had a brand.”
That pop-up, on Bowery in downtown Manhattan, was three years ago. Since then, Corsini has been living between Los Angeles, where she ships her clothes from, and Bangkok, where she oversees production. While she mostly sells her garments on Instagram and through her Web site, her occasional pop-ups almost always sell-out. Her next one opens June 6 in Milan for Salone del Mobile, the city’s annual design fair.
Corsini is interested in opening a more permanent shop, but she knows that scaling her business will be tough. It’s hard to replicate the most popular pieces. “The beauty of vintage—and its biggest issue—is that every piece is one of a kind.”
Siam Circle’s Milan pop-up will run from June 6 through June 14 on Via dell’Orso
Elena Clavarino is an Associate Editor for AIR MAIL