Sunday, March 17, 2013

Joe Klamka to model Uvenio latest project!

  Masculine. Muscles.Tattooed. Body sculpting. A body a work of art. Sexy. Bad-Boy Rugged-Looks like a Rock Star. And lots of Ink! Joe Klamka, is his name.....
I interviewed him for the model casting several weeks ago, and he caught my eye with his looks and style like a rock star with tattoos.!
 Fitness, bodybuilding, body-sculpting, aesthetics (whatever one might like to call it), to me, is legitimate art due to how one is able to manipulate the appearance of their body through different methods- just like ink is to canvas; dye to fabric, etc. 
In my mind, I have a clear vision of how I like my body to look which is drawn from a combination of various movie characters, paintings, record albums, geographical locations and emotions felt at one point in time. As my formative years took place in the 90s, most of that combination was birthed, then.   I have tremendous pride in my efforts which originally began as the result of depression, but then slowly transformed into a labor of love; so much that today, I am committed to helping anyone I can who shows interest in improving their life through physical activity (or anything else, healthy and pro-active, really). Thanks very much &  God Bless!!"   

And Joe Klamka in the body-building show with incredible physiques and work of art tattoos!


As I am styling the male models along with the masculine Joe Klamka for the Ken Wroy briefs collection and doing a spread for the hottest menswear briefs in the business for the Anolie Magazines. There will be spreads of male models along with Joe in Anolie!!. And yes Joe Klamka will appear in several Uvenio collections as well!

Uvenio Resorts Collection 2013: FEVER

You give me FEVER!
Always enjoyed listening to Peggy Lee's legendary hit: Fever. Always thinking of her song as my inspiring of creating a collection with her song in mind with using red shades of sequins, schiffons, georgettes and create classic collection with capris, halters, variety of sundresses that gives everyone Fever.
One of my favorite supermodel I have worked with at Todd 0ldham, Lydia Cornell was available to appear in my collection and worked with the freelance photographer, Christopher Nolan at his studio in Brooklyn.
The shoot was amazingly fabulous with Peggy Lee's smoky voice singing  in the background of the cd,while I stood by with good friend makeup artist, Neil Backman. Lydia gave the looks of being hot, sultry and giving the red-hot Uvenio resorts Collection; FEVER!

Never know how much I love you
Never know how much I care
When you put your arms around me  
I get a fever that's so hard to bear
You give me fever, when you kiss me
Fever when you hold me tight
Fever in the mornin', a fever all through the night
Sun lights up the day time
Moon lights up the night
I light up when you call my name
And you know I'm gonna treat you right 
You give me fever, when you kiss me
Fever when you hold me tight
Fever in the mornin'
A fever all through the night 
Everybody's got the fever  
That is somethin' you all know
Fever isn't such a new thing
 Fever started long ago
Romeo loved Juliet
Juliet she felt the same
When he put his arms around her
He said, "Julie baby you're my flame"
Thou givest fever, when we kisseth 
Fever with thy flaming youth 
Fever I'm on fire
Fever yeah I burn forsooth
Captain Smith and Pocahontas
Had a very mad affair
When her daddy tried to kill him
She said, "Daddy oh don't you dare"
He gives me fever with his kisses
 Fever when he holds me tight
 Fever, I'm his missus
And daddy won't you treat him right?
Now you've listened to my story
Here's the point that I have made
Chicks were born to give you fever
Be it Fahrenheit or centigrade
They give you fever when we kiss them
Fever if you live and learn
Fever till you sizzle
Oh what a lovely way to burn
What a lovely way to burn
And what a lovely way to burn.....

You will see more of my Fever Collection on the premiere website this fall! 

V for Vasilios!

Known him for years, Vasilios is larger than life and the industry knows him well for being for his character and his workmanship. I had the pleasure of interviewing him in his office that would make Diana Vreeland jealous! His office painted red, a zebra carpet spread the floor, his frames of pictures of shoes and accessories on the painted walls. Bookshelves filled with books and statues. His office is more like a museum! I truly enjoyed interviewing him, it was such a treat with laughter and amazed. Enjoy the premiere interview of one of the great Industry expert!

CU: Tell me about yourself and how you got interested in being in the Shoes and Accessories Industry?

VASI: Well, it’s become more than just being a designer now. I’m a consultant to designers and their respected industries….but, I’m about to sound like so cliché..I was born in a wagon of a traveling…Oh, no, wait, that’s someone else…LOL. I was born in Brooklyn by Greek Immigrant parents. My Mom grew up with her family in Indiana – they arrived here before my dad; then when my parents married in Athens in the late 1950’s they both came here and moved to NYC. IN the mid 60’s we moved to Astoria to assimilate – with the other Greeks. Yes, my life was a very close mirror image to “my Bog fat Greek Wedding. Anyway, skip to college, I first attended Queens College where I was a liberal arts major with an interest in byzantine and Greek studies; to this day I don’t know what I was thinking other than I loved learning academic Greek and loved the intricate history of the Byzantine empire…maybe I would have ended up becoming an archeologist seeking the remains of Helena the Great, Constantine’s until one morning a neighbor Maureen from across the street knocked on my door and asked if she could use my phone to call her babysitter cause her phone went dead. As she was on hold, she looked around my dining room and commented on some art work she saw framed and then asked who drew them? I said I did. Her eyes widened and then asked me if I was an art student. I said no. She couldn’t understand that. So she drilled with the phone still to her ear while I told her where I was studying well into my 2nd semester. She hung up the phone and told me I should apply to FIT – I had no idea what FIT was so she gladly gave me that College’s history and that she was 
 an Advertising Design graduate of that school. She went back to my drawings and said I had an innate design talent which I could pit to use and make a living out of it. The color pencil drawings were assorted women in costume inspired by various Puccini and Verdi femme fatales operas. I again looked at her like she had 3 eyes.  She did. She dragged me the following Monday to FIT – “Cutting class is OK once in a while if it’s going to get you to see the world!” I applied to FITs Fashion Design Program and put together a portfolio for my interview – again I was doing things because I was told what to do – what was I thinking? So, I took all of my costume drawings, and reinterpreted them into bridal wear. So, now I had a portfolio. The interviewer asked me why bridal wear? MY reply was because women get married every day. I didn’t even realize that was indeed a smart answer. I was accepted into fashion design and a neurotic star was reborn….LOL..I earned my Associate’s degree with a specialization in Intimate Apparel – I loved it…bias cut, straps, slinky, shiny, slippery fabrics in deep reds and shades of black, sometimes white, adorned and edged in quail or turkey feathers or mink and fox. I didn’t last long too long in that industry – maybe about a year? It seemed all the lingerie houses were closing shop and moving to China. Years later Josie Natorie showed up on the runway to save that industry by glamourizing it. I still adore her. From there I worked in furs, advertising, designing everywhere and anywhere where my art skill set and hands on construction knowledge was needed. Later I went into the accessories industry never realizing until years later I always had a crush on shoes – any shoes…men’s, women’s, children’s…But women’s shoes had the most character appeal. My closet, even as a child was filled with shoes. My dad had four pair…two lace ups in brown and black and two slip on …one in tan and the other in white with a monk strap and a pair of suede slippers. My Mom had dozens. From stilettos to mid heels to flats in all colors and textures. The pair which I still recall were a pair of gold sparkly stilettos. Some people know what they want to do and pursue their studies to reflect their want; not me. Eventually I earned my BA in Liberal Arts (English Lit; writing styles) while I continued to develop and nurture my deep fetish for drawing and designing shoes. 

CU: How long have you been in the artistic world of creating Master pieces?

VASI: LMAO…Christopher, darling, Da Vinci created master pieces. I don’t see myself creating mater pieces which will live on physically to be sold at auction houses at top dollar like Elizabeth Taylor’s diamonds or Da Vinci’s art. But I’ve been an artist at heart since I was able to hold a pointed sharpened pencil in my hand at 3 years old. Ask my Mom; she’ll roll her eyes and begin telling you.

CU: Congratulation on Winning the DSW Red Carpet Bravo Award of February 2012; how exciting! Was it expected and how did this all happen?

VASI: Well, it started with a partnership / contest between DSW and the Accessories Design Department which I Chair at FIT. DSW approached me and the powers that be at the college, to develop a contest with monitory prizes in the end for the winners which would lead to their shoe designs being manufactured and sold at DSW. DSW partners jumped at the chance to get involved and eventually met with the contestants . 
 To make a long story shorter, when the winners were announced, both the partners and the students knew this was going to be a happy marriage. This spelled out internships, employment, and the backing and support of an industry along with the college’s blessing. Add to this a surprise “huge” Scholarship to the five or so finalists to be flown to Milan, Italy to study footwear construction at ARS Sutoria with all expenses paid thanks to Joseph Moore, CEO of FFANY. The most interesting part for me was sitting with these two phenomenal women at the Hilton in NYC during shoe show early September 2011 to discuss the parameters of this pending wishful contest. The women were, Cynthia Watson and Debbie Ferree. We chatted over cappuccinos about the industry; where it was, where it is and where it’s going….well, no one knows for sure where it’s going, but here stepped in the students of both the AAS and BFA accessories design degree program. We strongly agreed that we have to put our faith into these young individuals; show them the ropes, embrace them, mentored them. Another thing we shared was real passion for the footwear design industry.
So, at the kick off in one of the partner’s grand showrooms, about 100 plus students showed up to participate and fill out applications to enter the contest. I phoned Dawn Duncan of the college’s foundation to attend with me. DSW went all out from the stage setting, the lights, the food, everything was superb. The hosts and hostesses approached the mike welcomed everyone, spoke about how exciting this was, and then the ever so glam Debbie Ferree, Vice Chairman, Chief Merchandising Officer of DSW Inc. took the stage to embrace the student body and talked about how the footwear family was about to take in this student body with pride; she spoke of the passion; and she went into how DSW honors someone special annually with their DSW Red Carpet Bravo Award within the footwear industry who’s made a difference; who’s an inspiration to others, who has integrity, and I’m so misquoting her, but you get the gist of it. I’m sitting next to Miss VP Duncan watching and listening and within seconds Dawn nudged me or kicked me to step up to the center stage. I looked at her weirdly, why? And, she told me that Debbie called out my name. I then realized, she’s looking right at me as was everyone else, and the voice in my head said, “Get up, walk towards her and accept the award
and say thank you.” So, I did as the voice directed me and the first thing out of my mouth right after “WOW! Thank you so much” while staring at Debbie and then at the award, I looked back to Debbie and to Cynthia and I think it was at that point, I blurbed out, “Does this Red Carpet Bravo Award come with Andy Cohen?” I heard laughter and applause the voice in my head said, “OMG, you ass, did you really just bring up Andy Cohen of the Housewives, Bravo TV fame?” But, I immediately thanked everyone. I was truly shocked to have won an award and be recognized by my peers in the footwear industry after, 23 years. I finally had my Susan Lucci, Emmy winning moment.

CU: Where and how did you get your start / education in becoming a recognized persona in the accessories industry?

VASI: I guess half the battle is still being within and being active in the business and under the umbrella known as FIT. I had many little cute starts. I don’t know where to begin. But all of my

interviews, my full time, part time, freelance employment adds up to here and where I am today in both the industry and within the academia (I still don’t see myself nor compare myself to traditional academies; My colleagues and I were hired based on our industry experience to teach and to share our knowledge with students who still be entering the same fields in which we work in. But, it’s the passion that others see and recognize.

Numerous magazines, papers, radio stations, domestic and international contacted me over the years to comment about trends, the latest “it” bag or the “must have” shoes, so my name got around in print quite often. I then realized well. I must be saying something right if people want to hear what I have to say or think. And yet, I never took this for granted…it could end tomorrow, so then what? Become the Greek Byzantine historian? That straight and narrow path lingered in my mind again which I never followed but seemed to work for me.

CU: Which designer inspires you and why?

VASI: First and foremost the late High Priest of Fashion, Gianni Versace. I instantly connected with his aesthetic from the time he was developing knits for GENNY and then COMPLICE; afterwards when he designed for his own namesake label and his goddess dresses just spoke to me (and millions of other people as well). Not to mention that many pieces from his men’s collections ended up in my closet; I couldn’t resist buying more; the size was a perfect fit from the shirts, jackets, pants, and naturally the shoes, belts, bags and home goods. So, before I became obsessed with his brand, I researched him and discovered he was Calabreze, and was extremely influenced by the history and mythology of his birthplace which went back to ancient 
Greece; thus, the dynamic look of the Medusa and the Greek Meandros (key) became his brand’s trademark; I liked him even more. The cherry on the cake was when I met him and shook his hand when he was honored by an exhibition of his designs in the early 1990s at the Museum at FIT. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. His innate passion for what he did radiated through his eyes and every pore of his being. He even looked like we could have been related. I couldn’t even tell you what I said to him but I’m sure it started out like the usual fan intro, “I adore your line…bla bla bla and then something stupid must have followed out of my mouth. He commented on my name and knew its definition; the King. How could I not love this man? And then I walked through the exhibition; I was enamored in its surrounding. I totally experienced his childhood inspirations and influences from the mountains of Calabria, the colors, shepherd’s flute music while it played throughout one area and it whisked me away on the journey he helped to curate. I got “it”. I miss him.

Second, although first really, was unmistakably Bob Mackie. I didn’t know who Mitizi Gaynor really was but I knew she was an entertainer and I loved what she wore; it was bright, it moved and shook like she did and what about all those beads and rhinestones? Then came Cher…need I go on? And, where do you think I first met him? At the Museum of FIT, during one of his first costume and fashion exhibitions. Yes, I was tongue tied while I shook his hand. He autographed my book he authored, “Dressing for Glamour”. He was shocked to see it and asked me where I bought it because he didn’t even have a copy of it anymore. Any sane person would have said, oh, really, well, here take mine, but not me…I said, “You’re kidding me, right?” I smirked, he cracked up laughing and Carole Burnett standing right next to him laughed along. I have a great pic of him and me together but the one of me and Burnett is blurry – I kept it anyway. I must have visited that exhibition at least 20 times as I did the Versace in the early 1990’s…I took all of my students there and anyone else who wanted to come with me, where we studied his cuts and patterns and the beadwork of all the costumes and fashion apparel. Yes, the majority were Cher’s and some were restored pieces or re-created for the exhibition and every time I was in the exhibition hall, so was he. So, after the 12th time, I began to talk to him and what a pleasure he was to talk to. He spoke to all of the students and everyone who walked in to view the exhibit.

Years later he made an appearance at Christie’s for an auction which was held for yet again, Cher’s clothes. I can’t even recall if any other celebrated designs of his’ were on auction. While I was taking my time to approach him, a herd of crazy gray haired badly permed women from Middle America bombarded him to chat about Burnett and Cher and get his autograph. My friend Jose whom I arrived there with yelled out to me to join them chatting. I froze for a few seconds then walked slowly towards them; In a loud voice and accent, similar to that of the
character Agador in the Birdcage, he yelled out, “Oh, Bob, you don’t know how madly in love my friend is with you and your work. You actually met years ago at FIT at your exhibition.” Now, I was numb. Jose, continued, “and like Cher he has one name too.” Bob, smiled, and said, “Yes, I think it’ s Vasi, Versai, VASILIOS.” I should have fainted but composed myself so we hugged, shook hands, kissed cheeks, took more pictures together and the paparazzi had a field day. What iconic legends. Mackie and Versace left me in awe and still do. One can’t even grade their skill set - give it a letter grade of “A” maybe? There’s no grading the masters.

CU: What design team, have you worked in designing Shoes and Accessories, and what lines of Collections do you have?

VASI: WOW! My story isn’t taking the straight and narrow path; I didn’t have a vision like others do who knew from the get-go they were going to become an apparel designer or a milliner, or a shoe designer to become the next Kenneth Cole or work for CHANEL. I had a drawing skill and capitalized on that. I worked with a lot of importers in the beginning in the late 1980’s and into early 1990’s but my full time position, which started out as a temp position on the job sketching at JC Penney (when the company was here in NYC on 6th Avenue) ranged from accessories, apparel, to bedding and housewares, and learning how ads were laid out for newspaper ads and the JCP catalogue were things I never imagined I would be doing. But that short lived on the job training remained with me to this day and prepped me for other things to come my way. When JCP was planning its move outside Dallas, Texas, I was asked if I’d be interested in moving with the company but I declined. That’s where I learned about working with teams – many teams – the advertising layout team, the very very very very short lived Halston Lingerie team, the temps team, all were different, had different needs, yet all vied for excellence in the end for the sake of the JCP brand. I learned about communication and that “it” factor which exists among many co-workers which one can’t really describe but knows it exists. It’s a connection. And I don’t mean with the superficial political niceties, but genuine respect for each other and each other’s abilities.

So, seeking work once again, through a contact and I was asked to sketch furs for John Pappas Furs out in Sayville, NY. That company was Fred the Furrier’s and Anonovich’s healthy competitor. I took on the job and gave the partner (half owner of the business) camera ready art work laid out which appeared in the NY Times, Newsday, and the NY Post newspapers (pre Adobe suites Photoshop and Illustrator; can you dig this?). Telling today’s youth that ADOBE is fairly new, shocks them. That gig lasted a while until I got tired of the commute and I ended up at the National Fashion Accessories Association (formerly the Handbag Association. Today the company is known as Gemini Shipping) which was in the Empire State Building them moved
across street to 33rd Street. That’s where I learned about the accessories industry inside out. I learned about shipping, imported goods, tariffs, the breakdown of container sizes, learned how accessories were categorized based on their materials makeup, construction, style and silhouette; it may head spin. I also assisted the PR manager with putting together trend forecasts for the membership and sketched what else? Everything but this time there were bags and shoes. When word spread that my forte was designing and sketching, I was asked to put together line sheets for some of the members which, remember, were mostly handbag importers and or licensees. That caught like wild fire and I couldn’t manage my full time responsibilities and the side work; it was double duty for free kind of when I broke it down. While having set up the shipper’s department I was asked by the PR Director who also chaired the Accessories Design Department at F.I.T., to take over a leather materials technology course because the teacher we leaving. At the very beginning I felt uncomfortable about it, but was reassured I knew my “materials” having sourced and used them all those years.

After I left the Association, I began freelancing feverishly for anyone and that’s how I ended up at Liz Claiborne in their accessories department which consisted of more than just shoes, bags, belts and hats but hosiery, socks, scarves, ties, etc…I knew how to draw and put together presentation boards. I was involved in meetings till midnight; great funny stories to share but you’ll have to wait for the book to come out for those. Again, no ADOBE suite. Boards were handcrafted and beautifully I might add. I had to put together hundreds of boards and sometimes with actual product like socks glued to the boards show casing the entire color story. The layout was real scale size. I had to physically put together about six or seven boards which looked alike so that the sales team could take them when they had to fly around the country to various regions to show their “vendors” (today that term has been replaced by “partners”) which direction the company was headed. Can you imagine that? I was always intrigued by all facets of the design world but the passion for shoes and bags was enormous now. About to be born. Around that same time, I was introduced to the shoe brand I Pamana; I don’t think they exist anymore. A former student I think hooked me up to put together a line sheet for market. That was indeed successful as were a few sketches I had submitted for a trend book FFANY (Fashion Footwear Association NY) had put out then. I was in a great world at FIT working part time there and part time at LIZ along with freelance work thrown in for good measure. At LIZ, I worked with some great teams; reminiscent of the JCP days. Amazing how today LIZ was bought by JCP.

While at FIT, I was offered to teach an accessory sketching course which was a joke and I immediately changed it and updated it to reflect the industry’s needs. Although its teacher was a great artist, she didn’t work in accessories so she didn’t know how to make that shoe or bag
sketch translate into what a sample maker needed to understand to make first samples. I met someone very special and instrumental in my life who registered for my accessory sketching course; I helped this man learn the fundamentals of sketching men’s shoes because his interest was in men’s and he wanted to interview for Kenneth Cole. A star was about to be born again. My student was hired and we are phenomenal friends to this day. He began the “Reaction” men’s shoe line and contacted me to assist him with interns and to eventually help build the entire design team through personal industry contacts we knew. It was because of this man, who knew how to build the perfect team so that everyone coexisted harmoniously with each other and became successful for the sake of the brand, that I learned the art of being patient for the perfect fit. When Kenneth Cole wrote his superb book, “Footnotes”, he was so gracious when he inscribed a copy to me, thanking me for being instrumental in helping to build the Reaction Team. That’s an honorable accolade. Later, I was asked to teach boot camp sketching to the new designers and existing “line builders” whose sketching abilities were weak. I had a ball working with both the men’s and women’s shoe divisions. Like everything though which ends, so did that chapter of my life but other things always popped up. Moving forward, I initiated to design a few styles of men’s shoes for a new men’s footwear company. The owner/designer was hesitant at first, but when I got a hold of my own personal materials and began to describe my vision to get his brand recognized with added pizazz, it worked. I talked him into 8 styles if I recall using fabulous brushed metallic leathers, patents, suede and a touch of python. We used existing construction and patterns. The reaction (no pun intended) was out of this world. There’s nothing like hearing people in the street or in restaurants feverishly comment about how they’d buy and wear the shoes. Even the factory got excited making the samples. That brand is ARTOLA. It’s the new kid on the block who is starting out slowly with a nice following which is growing. The shoes today are in five DSW doors and few other specialty boutiques. I’m going to talk him into more collaboration. Who is he? Jury Artola. One of my first BFA accessories graduates. I was always in awe of him as a gentleman and a mega talent. He even got engaged to his classmate; a stunning blonde who also works for the brand on the business end of it.

CU: Who are the Hottest Names in Shoes and Accessories now? 
Shoes: Nicholas Kirkwood, Brian Atwood, Ruthie Davis, Giraffe (David Siskin), Alejandro Ingelmo, DETNY the Ward Brothers – Shane and Shawn, Artola (Jury Artola), Banfi-Zambrelli, the empress herself, Beverly Feldman (she is to shoes what Elizabeth Taylor was to diamonds) and the Goddess, Prada. OMG, there are quite a few more I want to add to this list.

Bags: Nancy Gonzales, LuLu Guiness, Coach, Anthony Luciano, Alexander Toy. And, again, I can go on and on but I have to stop here.

Everyone I mentioned has a distinct DNA about their brand; their shoes and bags not only reflect who they are, but the accessories reflect the sign of the times we live in. Their twist to detail, materials they’ve chosen from the traditional to the non-traditional, the constant pushing the envelope to excel and the major interest in putting out a great product recognized by both industry and customers. They relate to their target customer which helps the designer live. In the end, the goal is to build a brand, true to itself, that will make money for that person and as Beverly Feldman put it, the company sells shoes to make money for her workers to bring home to their families. It’s a passion that drives each of them (us) and without that passion, they, we, might as well be dead.

CU: What do establish designers look for in a design graduate?

VASI: Established designers and or manufacturers seek out talented individuals who can express their ideas onto paper then be able to turn them into samples which can be marketed to customers into sales. The gorgeous drop dead designs must be able to become commercialized. Once that happens, the assistant designer becomes part of that company’s DNA; the new family member was born.

The portfolios must tell a story or compilations of stories. Themes must be carried through visually. There must be a relationship, a connection between the designer, the book’s contents and the person who is interviewing. That person has to be a great communicator on paper and in person. A perfect fit.

CU: What do you think of the designers, Manolo Blahnik & Christian Louboutin?

VASI: Icons within their time. I’d like to see to whom they’ll pass on their torch to.

CU: Is it hard to fit into Accessories and Shoe Design World?

VASI: Are you asking me personally? LOL.. I don’t fit anywhere easily…I never thought of myself or think of myself as a flower box and I’m going to fit into it or categorize myself somehow…I know I’m not a wall flower. I think I sometimes subconsciously accessorize myself or design a shoe a bag, something, to make a statement and then there are times when I calculate those instances. As artists and or designers we like to set ourselves apart from others to be noticed sometimes – that gives life to the brand that’s being built. Did I answer the question? 

CU: What do you see in the fashionable world of shoes and accessories five years from?

VASI: I can give you some fairy tale bullshit answer which can sound so “trendy” and over the

top, but I really don’t know. I’d like to know that answer as to when will the US Dollar regain its value in Europe? I think we’ll still be searching and sourcing for those materials and components, young design radiates so that brands will continue to develop and grow.

CU: What changes are happening now in the industry?

VASI: Well, it depends which market you’re asking about. The Luxury market is always flourishing’ this is not to be confused with the aspirational luxury brands which are also high on the sales totem pole. People want something in return – the consumer wants longevity in their purchases…whether they’re statement pieces or classics. I see many, including myself, mixing it all up – the ultra-brands thrown in with a pair of Levi’s. Another thing that’s happening, is more awareness of product; where it’s made, how it’s made (safely? Without harming the environment; eco friendlier perhaps? We’ve got a long way to go still. Look how many centuries it took us to get to the moon.

Something else that’s happening in the industry is that soft rumble beneath everyone’s soles everyone is experiencing and the burning question about the industry returning to its rightful place, here in the U.S.A. Although globalization is a great thing, young designers are asking why can’t their shoes, bags, small leather goods, hats etc. be made here in the U.S.A.? We’ll have to train people to be factory workers, train people to become sample makers, stitchers, etc…and it can happen. Actually, it started thanks to the Adoni group here in NYC on 38th Street. The Adoni Group is determined to make fashion shoes here in NYC once again and to add to that, handbags as well. It may never be as it was once was, but surely, it can be the next best thing; all it takes is courage and passion and some cash.

CU: What would your favorite motto or advice you would like to share for the future designers in Shoes and Accessories?

VASI: I first have to remark how interestingly you’ve separated shoes from accessories. Many years ago shoes fell under the accessory category, but in the last decade for sure, the footwear industry has catapulted itself like a rocket-ship onto and into its own category planet. I guess if you’re a 40 plus billion dollar a year industry (and I’m lowballing it) you’re your own category, right?? LOL  But, going back to your question, my advice is always simple like I am. Always be true to yourself, your family and very close friends…you should be able to count those true close friends on your seven to ten fingers; any more, and you’re 20 years old thinking you’re conquering the world and you haven’t been outside your parents’ front door yet. So, I’ll tell any young “sole” yearning to step it up to become a designer as I tell my students and the accessories graduating class during every senior exhibition where industry acknowledges the next generation awards of designers, to look to their right and their left and know that person will be working with them and each one of them will be assisting the other to become gainfully employed. That they will meet their extended family as they knock on doors, other accessory graduates who will happily open the door for them. And, maybe one day, some of them will teach and perhaps even sit in my Chair. But most of all, that passion has to be there and they should remember why they came to F.I.T. or anywhere else to study design in the first place. And, I always say, never let anyone tell them they can’t do something; they should not tolerate being bullied. Get up and walk away – find that perfect fit – it’s there.