Moth Oddities: Americana Charm Meets Italian Flair

Meet vintage collectors Yana Pietras and Ian O’Neill, the faces behind northeast Minneapolis vintage hot spot Moth Oddities
Ian O'Neill and Yana Pietras
Ian O’Neill and Yana Pietras

Provided by Moth Oddities

Yana Pietras and Ian O’Neill, co-owners of Minneapolis vintage shop Moth Oddities, remember a time when there was just a handful of curated vintage stores dotting the Twin Cities fashion scene. 

The pair launched Moth Oddities in 2014 from a single clothing rack in their small studio apartment and have watched over the past eight years as vintage shopping has gained attention, expanded, and, finally, exploded. 

“More people are wearing vintage clothes every day,” O’Neill observes. “Vintage items are being highlighted in street style, fashion blogs, fashion shows, and all over social media.” 

But Pietras and O’Neill were early to the party. Pietras recalls tales of her earliest secondhand escapades, in which she and her mother would hop between thrift stores and estate sales in her hometown of Stillwater, searching for hidden treasure. Meanwhile, O’Neill was rummaging through various neighborhood garage sales in Prior Lake as soon as he was old enough to ride a bike.

“Shopping vintage is a way to vote with your dollar,” O’Neill says. “It supports small businesses, fuels the local economy, and encourages the development of unique personal style.”

Moth Oddities
Moth Oddities

Provided

Pietras and O’Neill met at the University of Minnesota’s College of Design in 2009, where they started collecting vintage together as a hobby. After launching Moth Oddities in 2014 (the name is simple—“moths love vintage and so do we,” Pietras says), they embarked on a series of road trips in their 1968 Jeep Grand Wagoneer to participate in vintage markets from Los Angeles to New York City. These years on the road are still evident in Moth Oddities’ signature style, which exudes a sort of free-wheeling, nomadic spirit that Pietras and O’Neill like to call “road trip aesthetic.”  

But in 2021, the pair finally relinquished their nomadic lifestyle (for the most part, at least) to set up shop in a brick-and-mortar location in northeast Minneapolis. Moth Oddities has since expanded to occupy a dual storefront and studio space in the St. Anthony Main neighborhood of Minneapolis, a well-established vintage hub of the Twin Cities. 

A breeze through their store is a journey of contrasts, one that reveals both romantic, lightweight linens and durable workwear; both American Western motifs and European influences.  

“We love mixing heritages,” O’Neill says. “At Moth, you’ll find Americana styles with a touch of European flair.” 

Moth Oddities
Moth Oddities

Provided

If the shop makes you feel as though you’ve stepped into a dreamy Italian film, you are not far off. O’Neill categorizes this style as “Spaghetti Western,” referential to a genre of Western film directed by Italians and shot in Europe. 

This connection to Italian culture is a foundational element of Moth Oddities and has been part of Pietras’ life since the family trips of her childhood. Each month, Pietras and O’Neill receive a shipment of one-of-a-kind Italian vintage, sourced from their buyer in Italy, whom Pietras met while studying abroad in Florence.

My connection to Italy goes back years, I suppose even decades,” explains Pietras. My parents travelled to Europe on a budget in the 70s and fell in love with Italy so much that they continued to go back. I was just the lucky kid that got to trail along with them.” 

Pietras and O’Neill now make periodic visits to Northern Italy, where they meet with their buyer to scour through open air vintage markets together.  

“Because our buyer is a local, she knows her way around the markets and has connections to store and house clean outs,” shares Pietras, who just recently returned from their most recent visit to Italy—this time a memorial trip for her late mother.  

From January through March, Moth Oddities used its joint studio space, dubbed Moth Studio, to host an immersive gallery experience featuring artwork by Pietras’ mother, who died of leukemia in 2020. Pietras and O’Neill honored her life with a memorial trip to Italy in March, where they scattered her ashes and took time to reconnect with their buyer. The pair returned with a large collection of early-spring Italian vintage, which they debuted at a special shopping event that celebrated the wrap up of the gallery.  

While likely the most special to Pietras and O’Neill, this will not be the last gallery of its kind hosted at Moth Studio.  

“The convergence of art and fashion is definitely something we want to continue exploring at Moth,” reveals O’Neill. 

Moth Studios also has also played host to coffee-cart pop-ups, workshops, and classes, and has a lineup of experiential events in store for summer.

Whether you’re attending an event at Moth Studio or trying on a 1960s Italian sun dress, Pietras and O’Neill invite you to step into the excitement of the Twin Cities vintage community, which they feel is only growing by the day.  

“The feeling we get seeing a person’s face light up when they find that perfect vintage item—that could have otherwise been dumped into a landfill—makes us know we are exactly where we are supposed to be,” Pietras says.

New to vintage shopping? Moth Oddities offers its best tips for beginners:  

“Be open to experimentation, ask questions, and try lots of things on! Looking for jeans? Try on multiple pairs and don’t be afraid of sizing up. Vintage pieces often utilize fabrics that don’t stretch, so an item may look larger on the rack, but will fit perfectly once it’s on.”  –Yana Pietras 

As an Associate Editor on Greenspring Media's Custom team, Emma contributes to multiple publications, including Real Food and Drinks, Twin Cities Living, and Minnesota Monthly. A true Minnesotan, Emma spent most of her life in an ice rink, training as an elite figure skater. When she is not writing or skating, you can find her at a yoga class, thrifting, drinking overpriced coffee, or spending the day on the lake.