In the 1970s, Jay Adoni immigrated to America and opened his own shoe factory in Brooklyn, NY. The business started out small but soon took off, growing into a leading men’s and women’s shoe manufacturer in the USA. As it developed into The Adoni Group, the family began to produce several trendy brands under this umbrella, several of which were created by Jay’s sons, Jordan and Jensen. One of these brands was Modern Vice. Years later, due to mishaps with overseas production, the Modern Vice brand was left in limbo and the brothers found that they would have to buy it back if they wanted it to survive. Fueled by their shared passion for manufacturing, Jordan and Jensen believed in the brand’s potential for success and knew that there was room for growth in the industry. As a result, about 5 years ago, the brother’s re-opened Modern Vice, a shoe factory and brand focused on high quality materials, details and design.
Modern Vice develops its products with a focus on quality, accessible fashion with the necessity of all stylistic individuals in mind. The Modern Vice Collection is carefully crafted and handmade in New York City, implementing comfort features, special design, intricate details, and the use of luxurious leathers from around the world. At this level of fashion, design and experience, the brand hits a specific niche in the marketplace that doesn’t exist anywhere at this price point.
Jordan Adoni, co-founder of Modern Vice, gives us an inside look at what it’s like to be a shoe manufacturer in NYC, and what goes on behind the scenes at the Modern Vice factory.
What is it like being a shoe manufacture in NY and in the USA? Why manufacture with you as opposed to going to Italy or overseas?
Being a shoe manufacturer in the USA, and specifically NYC, is incredibly frustrating but worth the battle. We believe that real innovation starts at the factory level. The obstacles of manufacturing in NYC are extremely difficult: there is no support for shoemaking when it comes to components, machinery, and access to quality shoemakers on top of the high cost of labor and rent. However, there is no place like New York City, and being able to share this experience with people is magical, which is why we do it. There is nothing wrong with manufacturing overseas, and sometimes it’s necessary, but when you work with us in our New York City factory we can do things that cannot be achieved overseas.
For example, by manufacturing locally, brands can be quicker to market, produce smaller runs, do product development for any style shoe and place custom orders. By working with our factory, designers receive a superior product that only the best factories with limited access can produce.
What does being Made in USA mean to you?
Made in USA means creating jobs and a quality product that has a handmade touch you cannot find anywhere else. The craftsmen working in our factory are highly skilled and have been making shoes for most of their lives. It also has a lot to do with the materials being used. Typically shoes that are Made in USA are made with genuine leathers and are non-synthetic.
Why is your factory unique?
Our factory is incredibly unique because of the amazing people who work here. We work as a family who all share the same vision of making a positive impact not only locally, but in the entire fashion industry. We have a unique space with a showroom, photo studio, digital content lab and glass shoebox. The glass shoebox is a venue we use to showcase talent and bring people together. We always celebrate everyone’s birthday and for Thanksgiving, we give all the factory workers turkeys.
Tell us about the production process at Modern Vice:
We have a great team of people that all work as one. I lead the design team of the Modern Vice brand and build the line with the help of Sonya Belakhlef and Omar Bailey who are both incredibly talented designers. The dynamic of our entire team contributes to our ability to stay at the forefront of shoe fashion.
What advice do you have for designers who want to manufacture shoes in the USA?
Visit the Garment District and just go for it. Get involved with a factory that is active and don’t be afraid to take chances by stamping your name on something without knowing what the result will be. There is a lot you can do if you just get out there and try.
What are some trends that you see in the industry today?
Right now we are using more and more exotics. Comfort and the use of removable or interchangeable pieces is also a huge trend we are seeing right now. For our own brand’s design, we are also always trying to go pointier with our toe shapes without taking away from the classic shapes that are in the line.
What’s the weirdest product you’ve ever made?
We made a custom pair of shoes for someone with opposite feet, meaning their right foot pointed left and their left foot pointed right.
What are you goals for the future?
We want to create a place where people can come to collaborate on a product that is unique, soulful and real. Our vision is that Modern Vice becomes a fashion house that is known around the world for amazing design, comfort, attention to detail and being Made in NYC.
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