“The sky’s the limit,” said Jordan Adoni as he sat in the “glass shoe box” at Modern Vice, gesturing to the shelves of colorful, leather product. The co-founder of the New York-based boot brand confidently affirmed the endless levels of customization as he walked Footwear News on a factory tour amid designers and boot-makers alike.
“A lot of times people will come in and they can customize insoles, they can customize every leather that’s used, [or] zipper tape, a zipper pull — they can get crazy with it,” he explained.
But if intricate customized orders from a direct-to-consumer brand won’t suffice the growing demands of customers — the progressive e-commerce strategy intends to keep prices lower by cutting out the middle man — then perhaps seeing the styles produced firsthand will do. Adoni proudly boasts that visitors are welcome at the Midtown store to both view the assortment, which is composed primarily of boots and booties, as well as take a tour of how the shoes are constructed from concept to finish.
“At first it was not made in the USA. We actually started overseas. We were sampling handbags in the [New York] area and got excited about what you can do here and one thing led to another so we were like, ‘let’s try to do our production here.’ Everyone thought we were crazy,” explained the co-founder on being a, mostly, made in the USA brand.
After a few failed attempts at landing a location in the beginning stages, the founders met a landlord who banked on their business proposition and allowed them to secure an empty third floor space in order to build the factory from scratch. Since then, word-of-mouth and some influencer marketing has led several people to take Adoni up on his personal touring offer. From publications such as FN to school children to celebrities like Lauryn Hill and Swizz Beatz, many have stepped into Adoni’s “office.”
In fact, a pair created for Swizz Beatz has been one of the brand’s most interesting customized shoes.
“I got lucky enough to meet Swizz Beatz at one point and I really knew he was into Basquiat so I designed a loafer with “Basquiat” written all over it. Swizz was so thankful and came up here and spent some time with us. Then, four years later it’s all over his Instagram. He didn’t do anything with it and then all of a sudden he wore it for his birthday and it just went all over the place,” said Adoni.
And it’s true, as evidenced by the producer’s Instagram. He shared several photos of himself wearing the velvet style within a series of birthday posts and even a throwback Thursday just last month.
“The future of shoe manufacturing is a place like this,” said Adoni.
“It’s content, we do [a lot] of our stuff in-house, sell direct-to-consumer, invite people up into the space to experience the brand on this level, make them aware of what is happening out there, what can be done, buying domestic as much as possible. We do make shoes elsewhere but we do more here than a lot of people. Sometimes our demand is so high that in order to feed the masses we have to do things overseas,” he explained.
Modern Vice’s strategic combination of a direct-to-consumer approach, emphasis on customization and visibility in production seems to be on a winning path for the brand. Will it be enough to eventually fulfill Adoni’s dream?
“My goal is to become the number one shoe guy in the world. I want to be bigger than Madden. 100%. Some people have a poster of Michael Jordan on their wall, I have a poster of Steve Madden on my wall. He’s the #1 shoe guy in the world,” shared Adoni.
Only time will tell.
For now, you can go behind the scenes of our tour and see how a boot is made in the Modern Vice factory by checking out our video.