As a fashion designer, picking Los Angeles as your home rather than New York City is a curious decision at first glance. But if you look closer, there are some strong arguments that can be made for the West Coast. Apart from amenities that are already considered SoCal monopolies (the weather, the space, the laid-back lifestyle), many designers note the advantage of being able to manufacture in their backyard as a major selling point. The abundance of production resources in this city gives creatives the opportunity to send off their designs in the morning and have their hands on a sample that same afternoon. Going even one step further, the relatively affordable housing costs in Los Angeles have enabled many labels to cluster their whole team under one roof. It’s hard to beat the amount of control and flexibility that comes with this set up. But when it comes to the true meaning of local production, three of our favorite accessories designers—George Esquivel, Calleen Cordero and Clare Vivier—are triumphantly leading the way.
Bringing sexy back into the traditional craft of shoemaking, Esquivel is in a league of his own. Like the garage band musicians who constituted his earliest fans (No Doubt among them), this Orange County native and CFDA finalist began production in his garage and still continues creates everything in his workshop just south of Los Angeles. Combining a quintessential American aesthetic with a classic vintage sensibility, Esquivel’s style is timeless with a distinct attention-grabbing edge. Rather than constantly adding new leathers to his roster, Esquivel sticks to the materials he knows best and instead develops new dyes and treatments to evolve his look.
Similarly, every step of shoe and accessory designer Cordero’s pieces are created under her roof in North Hollywood. After settling on the design, Cordero makes each heel by hand, sculpting her towering creations out of wood selected from sustainable forests, handmolding the soles of the sandals and putting on the signature brass and nickel studs. Cordero’s lavishly ornate distressed leather bags, belts and shoes channel a sexy and confident rock ‘n roll bohemian, who’s crazy for effortless luxury as well as a chic sensibility that is down-to-earth and uncompromisingly feminine at the same time.
Last but not least, handbag designer Clare Vivier is known for her simple, easy designs in a color palette that ranges from electric blue to sunny yellow. Although this French madame doesn’t have her own workshop, she proudly manufactures her stylish pieces locally and with an ecological bent. Her super soft fold-over clutches have been a favorite in Los Angeles and beyond, and it speaks for Vivier’s business smart that she still manages to keep her price point in under $400 for most of her pieces. Bravo to that!