The cofounder of Modern Vice strives for craftsmanship in both his footwear and his body art.
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The fashion industry may bemoan the demise of domestic manufacturing and New York City’s Garment District, but inside one of the neighborhood’s generic facades, The Adoni Group’s factory is bustling.
“Don’t do it. You guys are out of your fucking minds,” shoe industry vet Jay Adoni had told his sons about opening a shoe factory in New York. After running a domestic shoe manufacturing business in the ’70s and ’80s, the Adoni family patriarch left the business but returned decades later as an importer at the urging of his sons, Jensen and Jordan. The family launched successful brands like Pour la Victoire and Kelsi Dagger. But the boys weren’t satisfied.
In 2012, Jordan and Jensen cofounded Modern Vice, a men’s sneaker brand, and began producing their footwear in China. Despite solid sales, they weren’t happy with the product and decided not to use it. They wanted to make the shoes themselves—and that’s exactly what they did.
“We’re into exotics, we’re into heavy boots, heritage shoemaking. My father said we’d never make the shoes we wanted to make, but that was where our heart was,” Jordan says about opening the factory. “After a couple months my father came around and said, ‘I can’t believe the kind of shoes you’re making. It’s insane. I can’t believe the quality.’ He joined us after three months, and we’re working as a family again and have 10 brands including Modern Vice.”
The chaotic factory floor is a throwback to a different time. Gray-haired artisans in white jackets expertly handcraft hundreds of shoes each day. But the old-school approach makes Modern Vice nimble. Any concept can be turned into a sample immediately, and the idea can go into production quickly without sacrificing quality or price. The brand can move lighting fast—and it does—with new styles and colors popping up all the time.
“I hate using the word edgy,” Jordan says. “But Modern Vice is edgy. We take classic silhouettes and make them fresh. It has a New York edge because it’s made in New York.” Preppy chukkas take on a new persona in red python, and lace-up boots get made over in neon nubuck.
It all comes down to Jordan and Jensen. Both are personally involved with every shoe, but Jordan, who exudes a near-manic creative energy, is particularly involved as The Adoni Group’s creative director. “I can’t sit still. We move a million miles an hour here. I always have to be creating something.”
That attitude extends beyond shoes to Jordan’s body art. He started slow, with a single tattoo that reads “Let Love Rule” across his ribs. That one was from New York Adorned, and a year or so later he connected with Cris Cleen at Saved, who added a handful more pieces. But it was when Jordan met artist Thomas Hooper that he got swept away.
“I got so zoned in I couldn’t stop. I deal with creative people all day but Thomas is one of the most creative people I’ve ever met in my life. His use of negative space and how he uses the contours of your body to show his work is insane,” Jordan says.
The two started on a back piece that soon led to his shoulder, then his chest; now the two are working their way down Jordan’s arm in a collaborative process, spitting ideas at one another. “I have no idea what I’m doing. I’d love to say I have a grand plan, but I don’t. I respected Thomas as an artist first and am just really inspired. I’m honored to be tattooed by him.”
While there may be no master plan, one thing is for certain: Whether you are talking shoes or tattoos, it’s safe to say that Jordan won’t stop creating anytime soon.