Clare Vivier’s eponymous handbag line all started with a simple laptop case. Struggling to find a fashion-meets-function bag to suit her busy lifestyle, the former television journalist simply designed one herself. The rest, as they say, is fashion history.
Since 2008, Vivier has been locally producing leather goods in her adopted hometown of L.A. And we aren’t the only ones pretty much obsessed with her minimal-yet-striking designs, with the fashion world quickly embracing the designer’s cool yet sophisticated, L.A.-meets-Paris goods. (Originally from Minnesota, the designer later spent time in Paris and ended up marrying a French documentary filmmaker.) She’s collaborated with tons of cool labels like Theory, Steven Alan, and Wren, and her bags have been worn by magazine editors and celebs alike. She also has a standalone boutique in L.A.’s hip Siverlake neighborhood, where she lives and works.
We caught up with Vivier to learn more about how she managed to build her brand from scratch–and as it turns out, she’s far from slowing down with lots of plans on the horizon (like doing footwear–yes please!). Read on to find out how she does it…
What was your relationship like with fashion growing up?
I have always been interested in fashion. When I was little I would dress up in my mom’s clothes and carry my dad’s briefcase around, which was my businesswoman look. In high school I created collages on my walls from fashion magazines and always kept up with trends and designers as much as I could from my Minnesota bedroom! I always knew I wanted to work in the fashion world I just never quite knew how.
How and when did you end up in LA?
We moved from the Bay Area in 2001 to be closer to my husband’s son–my stepson–Simon.
You worked in television before starting your label, how did you decide to go into fashion?
While working in television, I discovered a huge gap in the market for stylish and functional bags that could go from day to night, from work to an event or dinner. That’s what inspired me to make my first laptop case. From there, I just continued to experiment with beautiful leather I found, seeing what shapes the leather could take and what I imagined my friends wanting to wear. The necessity for something functional and beautiful led to my new career path!
Did you have any design experience?
I learned how to sew when I was younger and made my own clothes throughout high school and my adult life, but I have no formal training in design.
What were some of the early obstacles in starting your own label?
Trying to find the right price point and getting press. I knew what I thought the bags were worth, but it was hard finding a middle ground of that price and having an unknown label that people would only pay so much for. It was incredibly helpful to start my own blog when the line launched to promote the line for free. I was able to get attention from friends and friends of friends and then outsiders and press started taking notice.
What is the ethos of the brand?
The brand is a marriage of classic French glamor with minimalist Los Angeles cool. All of the bags are as chic as they are utilitarian. We engage in ethical manufacturing practices without compromise. From conception to construction, all of the bags are made in L.A.