Wear WE Are: Modern Vice Collection, Made in New York

Every now and then, there are brands that get it just right. The Modern Vice Collection is one of them. It was launched together with its very own domestic factory in New York City last year. They initially began with shoes but have been expanding and introducing new product lines such as bags and clothing.

For a relatively new and young name in the industry, the Modern Vice Collection has gained a strong following and its success could be attributed to several factors. First and foremost, the designs appeal to modern sensibility, yet they have a sense of timelessness. Then there is the fact that it is of exceptional quality – every pair of shoes are hand-crafted in the heart of New York City, with the finest materials and of course, immense passion.

With a vision that transcends fads and trends, the Modern Vice Collection is about sustaining quality and being extremely responsive. Having a factory in New York City could signal high quality simply from the associations one has with place. To me, however, the “hand-crafted in New York” label goes beyond being a quality statement. It’s about being responsive and reacting quickly to market changes, but it’s also taking the time to invest resources that are needed to create something that is genuinely great. It’s about rolling up your sleeves, not taking short cuts and delivering something that’s honest.

The masterminds behind the brand are the two Adoni brothers, Jensen and Jordan, who will share with WE the background of the brand and their vision forward.

Jensen (left) and Jordan (right)

When did you launch Modern Vice?

We launched Modern Vice Collection, and opened our domestic factory, about a year ago.

How would you describe your personalities?

Jordan: I’m very energetic. I’m constantly running around the factory, and my mind never really stops working… I’m always coming up with new ideas.

Jensen: I am very much the calmer brother. I’m very patient, but still, I never stop thinking. There’s so much going on in the factory, from running the place, taking orders, as well as, working with our marketing team. When it comes to shoes, I’m very detail oriented, and always thinking forward.

Having a factory in New York City could signal high quality simply from the associations one has with place. However the “hand-crafted in New York” label goes beyond being a quality statement.

Tell us a little bit about how Modern Vice began. What inspired you to start the brand?

Jensen: We’re all about risk taking, taking classic silhouettes and putting a twist on them with colors and materials. At first, when we were importing shoes, we never came back with what we wanted…and so we had this crazy idea to open our own shoe factory in the middle of Manhattan. Here, we can do just about anything and faster. We can create our dream products at our fingertips, and right when an idea is born.

Jordan: Originally, before we opened our shoe factory, we were trying to bridge the gap between the Air Jordan and designer sneakers. It originally started as a men’s only sneaker brand that was importing shoes. It’s now evolved into a whole new thing, where Modern Vice Collection is handmade right here in the city.

The JETT Boot: Dylana + Natalie Suarez x MODERN VICE

What’s the story behind the brand name and what do you hope to communicate to others through your products?

Jensen: We all have our vices. It’s about when people are obsessive with things. And we have it with shoes. Our vice is to splurge on shoes and make beautiful products. I could say we are very in love with shoes.

Jordan: To think outside the box, we make great shoes, and it’s all about a great product, and to just have fun with fashion, to enjoy a great product. If someone wears a Modern Vice shoe, it’s definitely going to be the highlight of his or her outfit. We tend to really do a lot of fresh takes on classic shoes and make them our own.

There seems to be a growing trend for companies to withdraw their overseas production factories and opt for manufacturing closer to home. Evidently, ‘Made in New York’ is a strong part of your brand’s identity. Why is it so important for you to manufacture locally?

Jensen: It is the long lost art of shoemaking that inspired us to do this. We’re trying to keep shoemaking alive in NYC, and our advantage is that we can react to the market so quickly.

Jordan: First and foremost, we don’t only make shoes here. We do have a huge import business that is part of Modern Vice. We make shoes in Italy, China, Brazil and of course New York, which has been dubbed as the Modern Vice Collection. Real innovation starts at the factory level. By us being directly involved with the manufacturing process in NYC, it enhances our line across the board, no matter where the product is made.

The JETT Messenger: Dylana + Natalie Suarez x MODERN VICE

You have got not only the most amazing collection of shoes, but are also expanding into different product lines such as handbags and jackets. How did you decide what to do next and what can we expect from Modern Vice in the coming years?

Jensen: We travel around a lot. We’re so inspired by the street. I’m always looking at what people are wearing, whether it be when I’m on the go, walking down the street, or browsing photography sites and blogs. We spend time in the studio with musicians as well. We like to fill a void, and see what’s out. If black and white is out, we’ll put it in color. Everything we do separates us from the pack.

Jordan: The sky is the limit. Between building what we think is a great brand, interacting with our audience, customers, and fans. We are always interested in seeing what people want for us, and we also have a million ideas. We are definitely going to continue starting to work with clothing. We recently are collaborating with a hat company, Paislee, also being made here in our factory.

Do you have any plans for opening a retail store in the U.S. and possibly expanding overseas in the coming years?

Jensen and Jordan: Yes, definitely. We are also opening up the factory to be a retail destination very soon this year.

Dylana (left) and Natalie (right) wearing the JETT

Additionally, WE talks to two of most unique fashion bloggers on the web, Dylana and Natalie Suarez, who have been collaborating with Modern Vice from the very beginning. Together, this dream team as I like to call it, has created some beautiful, versatile and high quality shoes that every girl could really use in her closet. Besides shoes, their collaboration has also successfully launched a line of bags.

Describe your blog and personal style.

Natalie: My style is very eclectic. I love to mix and match a ton of different styles. My blog is called “Natalie Off Duty.” Growing up as a young working model, I was very influenced by the effortless and thrown-together “model off duty” style. I’m very much influenced by rock n’roll and bohemian style, the free spirits. Yet I love to stick to classic silhouettes, and tailored pieces. I love pieces from my travels that show culture, by mixing prints, and beautiful jewelry. My style is a bit of everything.

Dylana: My blog is Color Me Nana, and it’s very much a mix of photography, design, music, and of course, what inspired me to get dressed everyday. Growing up, I’ve always craved to work in fashion. Now I have a dream job on the East Coast, all while still working on my blog and working in design. My blog has been this place where I can share all my dreams and adventures. My style is a bit gypsy, it’s a bit rock n’ roll, and super eclectic. I’m always playing with color, and prints. My blog is the little whimsical photo diary of all my latest loves, whether it be an item of clothing, or editorial I’ve seen that blew me away. Always very inspired by music and travel.

How long have you been blogging for and what got you into it?

Natalie: I’ve been blogging for about 4 years now! I started when I was 18, and I was working as a model. I began posting behind the scenes into my work, the people I’d meet on set, then slowly progressing into getting more personal, and showcasing a bit more about my life on the go, and my style. Now, it’s really a diary of everything I love, from my travels to my music and inspirations.

Dylana: I have also been blogging for about 4 years. Natalie and I sort of began together. It started with my photography, then my inspiration, and eventually showcasing in my life, my travels, my dreams, being a California native, transplanted to the East Coast, working in fashion.

Natalie wearing the Fuschia BENNI from Dylana + Natalie x MODERN VICE

Tell us about the experience of collaborating with Modern Vice on both shoes and handbags.

Dylana: I love that it gave me the opportunity to jump into something so totally brand new to me, and also so creative at the same time. As a blogger, I have gotten the chance to work with a lot of amazing brands, both small and big, and see a lot of really beautiful and inspiring places, but there is so much of a difference between representing a brand and actually be a part of the brand, from product development to coming up with the actual marketing ideas for the company and our collaboration. It’s been very hands on and we come up with design ideas and approve all the leathers and the look of the buckles. So much goes into the making of a shoe, and the way the Modern Vice team does it is so raw and real and nitty-gritty, and every aspect is so involved and so special. It’s been an amazing experience getting to see this and be a part of it, as well!

Natalie: Working with Modern Vice has been one of my dream collaborations. I love taking risks, and I began working with Modern Vice from the very start. I’ve worked with so many brands throughout the years, but it’s so incredibly fun and exciting to take on a new brand. The brothers brought me into their empty space, just before the factory even launched, and were so enthusiastic about it! It sounded so dreamy… to create amazing shoes, right here in Manhattan! Of course, I said, why not, Dylana and I would love to create a shoe with you. A few months later, after playing with many different leathers, and lasts… the JETT boot was born!

What were the best parts and what were the most challenging aspects of this collaboration?

Dylana: The best part is definitely the freedom of creativity we have and how every possibility is explored. We get to be a part of the process from start to finish, test out samples, try out new leathers. There are so many risks and so many options, but no one is afraid to try them all because we know we have to if we want to come up with the best shoe designs possible. I love that Modern Vice makes twists on classic styles and they are all completely unique, handmade and superb quality. You can’t find anything like this anywhere else! It definitely is challenging coming up with new ideas, because we are so inspired by so many other brands, too, but we want to make sure we come up with something that is still completely our own. It takes a lot of imagination to create something so beautiful and truly one-of-a-kind.

Natalie: I loved the freedom of design and getting to create a product, and see how it is made, from start to finish. From creating the sketch, to choosing leathers, to making pattern, to getting that very first sample. Through the months, the JETT just got better and better, and we released it once we knew it was perfect. It’s definitely a challenge to create that perfect shoe, something that’s fresh, different, but still completely wearable. The JETT is all of those things, and that’s why I think it’s doing so well all over the world. Now, we have a whole “Natalie + Dylana Suarez x Modern Vice” JETT collection, with many different styles and colorways. With the factory, there’s just so much we can do, and quickly.

When you were designing the shoes and handbags, did you have a particular lifestyle or personality in mind? Did it change with each design (e.g. Benni vs Jodphur)?

Dylana:When I designed for the Jett boot, I had in mind my musical tastes and my love for rock and roll. I always wear leather ankle boots, every season, it doesn’t matter the weather. They just go with everything and always look good. I wanted a boot that every girl could wear and bring with her everywhere, and that was versatile enough to go with all the different styles we have in our wardrobes. But we also wanted it edgy enough that it stuck out from the pack. That was when Nat and I knew there had to be buckles on the boots. And the kilty was thrown in there for the added texture and classic element.

I was reading the book Neon Angel about the band The Runaways, and I imagined the band members rocking out in Los Angeles, going on these badass adventures in the boot we designed. And I came up with the name Jett based on Joan Jett and her persona that was so tough yet also so emotional and down to earth deep down inside.

I think the Jodphur boot still has that rock and roll and go lifestyle twist on it, but is much more classic and basic, designed for the girl with the more simplistic sense of style. I think every girl who has similar styles as Nat and I, who like to experiment, and who loves to mix vintage with new with a touch of something offbeat and eclectic will wear all the shoes we designed. So we kept this sort of girl in mind when we designed. Our shoes are for the girls who like to think outside the box.

Natalie: When Dylana and I designed the JETT collection, we of course wanted it to go with our lifestyle. I live in NYC, and so of course, I’m always on the go. I need a shoe to be comfortable, but still beautiful, and perfect for everyday wear. All of our pieces are for the “girl on the go” lifestyle. Ankle boots were just that. I had so many, but there was always something a little off about each. I wanted a more slim ankle, and a perfect heel, something that didn’t feel chunky.

The JETT was perfect. The slim last, and perfect low ankle was exactly what we wanted. Still to this day, we use the JETT last for a lot of our other designs. I swear that any piece from the JETT collection go with all of my looks. Whether it be a casual weekend day out in flared jeans and a tunic, or a work day in a mini dress, and tights. Everything is a bit vintage inspired. So far, our collection has a slightly pointed toe, is a tiny bit men’s tailored, but is still super feminine and beautiful. The tassels and distressed leathers definitely remind me of the incredibly handcrafted shoes I’d find at vintage stores, that I couldn’t find anywhere else, that was made with such great quality.

Dylana wearing the JETT from Dylana + Natalie x MODERN VICE

Can we expect more design collaborations from you in the future? If so, what else would you like to branch into?

Dylana: Yes definitely! The Jett is reinventing in so many ways for the upcoming seasons, from a super cool oxford-style version with punk and oxford elements and a heeled version for the girls who like a little lift. And it makes the Jett feel a little more grown up and pulled together. It’s fun to see how we can tweak things here and there to make something incredible and totally wearable.

Natalie: Yes, right now, we are still expanding our entire JETT collection now that it is doing so well. I love now moving into Spring and Summer and playing with all sorts of fun colors and styles. Also, I’m excited to branch out to even higher heels within the next season. Of course, we are now starting to play around with clothing in the factory. The sky is the limit.


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