Home' Z!nk Magazine : March 2013 Contents 058 SYLE FUSION
"We were all in the shoe business, on both my
mother's and my father's side," explains Jordan. Jay founded
a shoe brand and manufacturing company. Their mother
was very integral to Jay's factory and line in the '70s and
'80s, and owned her own footwear store. "I think it's just in
the blood," says Jensen.
With great industry coaches available to guide
the brothers in their fashion venture, there was another
key element that helped accelerate the realization of their
business and production. In the process of building Modern
Vice, Jensen and Jordan discovered Klingbeil, a 60-year old
ice skate manufacturing company that was closing down.
They recognized a great opportunity, bought Klingbeil and
its machinery and moved the entity from Jamaica, Queens
to the heart of the fashion district on West 38th street
where design and production are in full swing.
The Modern Vice shoe line is exquisite, each shoe
handmade. It all started with the Jett style. "[Natalie and
Dylana] had a really good idea for a vintage-looking bootie,"
explains Jensen or as Natalie calls it, "[our] dream boot." It's
made from the finest Italian leathers, with three buckles
and tasteful studs on the back. According to Color Me
Nana (Dylana's blog), they are "made with a hand-touched
feel and infused with pure rock and roll." Natalie explains
that during the design process, Dylana was reading a
book about Joan Jett's band The Runaways. Thinking that
Joan Jett's '70s rock 'n' roll style matched the booties she
decided to name the style the Jett.
The second wildly popular shoe design --- a below
ankle, lace-up bootie that comes in pony hair --- was named
Benni, but not because of the Elton John classic "Bennie
and the Jets." Natalie laughs, commenting that she finds
it funny that they're always talking about Benni[s] and the
Jetts. But Jordan explains that it wasn't titled after the
song; the name just came about naturally.
Designing the shoes, like the naming process,
came about organically as well. "It was a real collaboration,
honestly," says Jordan. Almost an illustration of that
point, Natalie finishes his sentence: from "the sketches,
the inspiration, the boards," to which Jordan adds "the
materials, to finding the right last. There is not one part of
this that any of us didn't have something to say about...
We're constantly throwing ideas around about colors and
hardware, and this and that. There's bits and pieces of us
all in it." There seems to be bits and pieces of everyone
in the Jetts, actually. Natalie sums up why they're so
versatile: "[they're] kind of for everybody."
While inspiration comes from their personal
styles, they don't design with a particular person in mind.
"It's more like an attitude. It's so a girl or a guy who's
wearing the shoes can emulate a certain look and feel that
the shoes are an exclamation point," says Jensen. "They're
the most powerful part of their outfit, they tie it together.
Look at her outfit right now (pointing to Natalie, who's
sporting the fuschia Bennis) and look at the shoes. The
Part of this "pop" must come from the vast range
of colors they use, a statement that Jordan agrees with.
"The colors are a big part. My brother travels to Italy and
finds the best leathers in the world." The Spring/Summer
colors for the Jett are particularly exciting: turquoise,
cornflower blue, pink, lemon; one would really think she'd
fallen into Willy Wonka's factory.
Other exciting new developments for the Spring/
Summer season include color-changing leather, neon
espadrilles, handbags and a new line, Giraffe Walk.
When asked about the color-changing leather, Jordan
explains the chemical technology. "It's like a solvent, and you
take a heat gun and you can put the heat wherever you want
and the color from underneath comes out. So there's white,
let's say, and when you put the heat, neon color will come out."
More experimentation with color will lead to neon.
According to Jensen, "we have neon espadrille bottoms
that are really funky," and will be composed, in part, of
neon rope. Jordan also discussed the development of a
"whole loafer program with neon trim" which he thinks
will "be huge in summer."
While the shoes make the man (men), the Adonis have
been hard at work on expanding their accessory production
to include handbags. "One of my brother's specialties is bags,"
explains Jordan. They've been collaborating with Natalie and
Dylana to expand the Jett and Benni line to bags. Natalie
notes the first one they finished is "red suede."
"We want to go to the biggest department stores
in the world with it," says Jordan. "We think it's that good.
It's like the Jett: it's fresh, it's new. We think that this bag
has huge potential." They also plan to expand outside of the
Benni and Jett lines. "We have a ton of bags planned that will
go to the Modern Vice Collection. We have backpacks"whole
loafer program with neon trim" which he thinks will "be huge
The last big thing they have planned for Spring/
Summer that they can talk about ("We don't want to give
away all of our secrets," jokes Jensen), is Giraffe Walk, an
eco-friendly footwear line. Artisans from Chennai, India
use vegetable tanned leather to weave the uppers, or
the parts of the shoe above the sole. The soles are also
composed of vegetable tanned leather, and manufactured
in Italy. They are then finished in the Modern Vice factory,
with a special lasting system --- each is hand-stitched on
the bottom. They come in cool colors, and look like flats
with tiny heels. One style has laces, too.
Although their shoes are being sold at "maybe
70 stores," according to Jordan, they definitely want to
open up stores of their own. Natalie, who's designed
two clothing collections for Volcom, plans to get more
into design, and more into music. She plays guitar, piano,
writes and sings: she even performed at the Benni and
Jett launch party earlier this year. If you've ever heard
her YouTube covers with sister Dylana, you'll notice how
awesome their husky and powerful voices are.
And while Jensen jokes that he "ghostwrites"
Natalie's music, he and Jordan are sticking with their day
jobs. No matter how popular their shoes have become,
Jordan still thinks that, "one of the most exciting things
for us is when we wake up and see all these fashionable
girls wear the shoes and how they style them out. You see
everything from a girl rocking them with suspenders and a
t-shirt to literally a girl wearing them with a Celine bag or
Givenchy shirt." If that's not the epitome of personal style,
we don't know what is. ModernVice.com CASSIE TITLE
Modern Vice shoes are currently available at department
stores like Macy's, NYC boutiques, including Cloak & Dagger
and Wink and ModernVice.com.
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