Behind the Scenes: Michelle Vale

We had a great time visiting Michelle Vale’s handbag factory!  The NYC factory was clean, organized and had a great vibe. Everyone who worked there was a pleasure to meet, and nothing is better than seeing the people behind the product!

Michelle Vale, founder of the handbag line, was inspired to create a collection that could be worn both for day and night: “The handbags are designed for the sophisticated woman who desires versatility and distinct design,” she described.

What are Michelle Vale’s thoughts on producing in America? “It’s the way forward. Get on board and be at the forefront of the next big trend.”

Here is our interview with Michelle Vale and our time spent at her factory:

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Why did you decided to manufacturer in America?

At first, quality control.  However, as time went on, I really questioned why made in New York did not have the same cache as Made in Italy and France.  After all, we are a major fashion capital.  I started to feel so passionately about it that in 2011, I co-founded the business initiative, “Make it in Manhattan” together with film director, James Belzer of “The Tents” which includes documentary, blog (www.makeitinmanhattan.tumblr.com) and networking events. The initiative was created to celebrate New York and American brands.  Our documentary will be previewed during the upcoming NYFW.

What has been the biggest reward with keeping production in NYC?  

There have been several, but I feel proud to be a pioneer in the idea of local manufacturing, which just 5 years ago was overlooked greatly.  I have been consistently told to lower my price point and move production overseas.  I held firm and continued to produce here.  We are only now beginning to see momentum in this area.  It’s just the beginning.

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Can you tell us the most challenging thing you have faced?

Understanding the value of Made in New York, domestically .  Europeans have always paid for quality over quantity.  I had three exchange students live with me throughout my childhood.  They each arrived from Italy with one tiny suitcase.  I was always astonished and would ask, “where are all your clothes”?  In America, it is commonplace to have many different outfits.  To never wear the same thing twice.  In Europe, it’s the opposite.  They buy one great blazer, and one great pair of jeans.   Teens shop at Prada and Armani.  They appreciate quality over quantity.  By having fewer things, we create less waste and by creating locally we will reduce our carbon footprint substantially.

What is the most fun you’ve had with Michelle Vale?  

Being in a career that allows for creativity and innovation.  It’s so much fun seeing an idea come to life from inspiration, to sketch to fabric selections.  I also love the collaborative ideas that have evolved from brainstorming and networking. We just signed on to do a collaboration with a major luxury auto brand which will launch directly before the film.  We also are in the process of scouting out our first retail location and have started designing it with an architectural team!  That has been super fun!

What is your favorite spot in NYC?

Love, love, love The High Line for it’s raw beauty and support for locally made.

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One of the coolest features of Michelle Vale’s handbags is that they offer custom removable hardware.  This allows you to customize the hardware color.

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Michelle is wearing the Balance Clutch, perfect for coffee runs and all your main necessities!

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