Interviews

The Interview — Clare Vivier, Founder of Clare V.

Founder of Clare V.

Founded by Clare Vivier, Clare V. is a handbag and accessories brand based in Los Angeles. Over the past 10 years, the brand has grown to include 7 retail stores nationwide, a global presence, and industry recognition for founder-driven authenticity and an insightful take on accessible luxury. Known for classic style that’s unexpected, with hints of both California cool and Parisian charm, the brand gives back both to the local community, where it’s been made since 2008, and to various causes and organizations, like Every Mother Counts, Planned Parenthood, and Everytown for Gun Safety, through product partnerships and activations.

After noticing a lack of functional yet stylish laptop cases while working as a journalist for French TV, Clare Vivier decided to create her own line of handbags and accessories in 2008. Over time, Clare’s been able to cultivate an identifiable aesthetic that's all her own and has been recognized worldwide by influencers, tastemakers, celebrities and bloggers, who support and wear the line. Clare’s strong connection to France, where she spends a significant amount of time each year with her French husband and son, remains at the core of the brand, with signature elements visible within every collection. In 2014, Clare was recognized for her contributions to design as a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), an organization with which she now works closely. 2018 marked the tenth year for the brand with 7 retail stores and hundreds of stockists both in the U.S. and abroad.

You can keep up with Clare on her personal Instagram, and follow Clare V.'s new releases on the brand's Instagram page. 

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March 18, 2019

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R&S

What inspired the idea behind Clare V.:

Clare

I was working as a journalist in French TV and needed a laptop case that was functional but still chic. When I couldn't find one, I decided to make my own. That's the initial idea that started it all.

R&S

What do you love most about your work:

Clare

I love the people that I work with, getting to come into the office each and every day and share creatively with some incredible women (and a few men). I love the travel, it is always very inspirational to see people in different cultures. I will say, I hate that it takes me out of the office because I love being in the design room, and I miss my family.

R&S

Walk us through a typical work day:

Clare

Usually, I'll get into the office by 9 and it really can depend on the day. Mondays are typically back to back meetings, setting the tasks for the week. We have some standing meetings throughout the week that are nice to have week over week, and the day is always punctuated by dealing with unforeseen production issues, design decisions, reviewing prototypes and samples, plenty of coffee from our neighbors at La Colombe, I usually leave work at about 6:30 and a couple nights a week I have to go straight to a work (fashion) event in the city.

R&S

One thing you wish you knew before Clare V.:

Clare

I wish I knew that it's ok not to know too much. I think it can be confusing to be building your business in the age of VC money and tech startups. I started really scrappy, self-funding and using the only resources that were available to me at the time because they were all I had—and all I knew. I wouldn't change a thing because it has allowed for creative freedom, but sometimes it is odd to hear that so-and-so company received $30 million in funding, and I think, “wow, what we could do with that money!” But, then I remember nothing is free, and I’m happy we’ve taken the course we’ve taken.

R&S

Best career advice you’ve ever received:

Clare

My dad always taught me to keep my eyes focused on what I was working on and not to be distracted by those that are on my sidelines. It can be incredibly challenging when there are so many "competitors" working in the same space, but staying true to your vision is really the only thing that consistently works. Keep your blinders on and try to make a great product.

R&S

Who has had the biggest impact on your career:

Clare

My family. From my father telling me I could be anything that I wanted to be to my mother and siblings who helped shape me into the resourceful person I am today (I'm the youngest of 6), it always comes back to family for me. That's true today with the support I receive from my husband and son.

R&S

Your most recent fashion discovery and obsession:

Clare

I've been doing some deep dives on eBay and at vintage stores for a vintage camel Max Mara coat and so bad they’re good sneakers (new, not vintage.)

R&S

The pair of jeans you will never grow tired of:

Clare

My Levi's. I had the good fortune of meeting with Bart Sights, Levi's Head of Innovation last year. He helped laser print some of our signature CV graphics, like Le Freak C'est Chic, onto classic 501s, and they are a treasure. But I really love my vintage orange tab Levis.

R&S

Your current Netflix addiction:

Clare

Rewatching The Crown for costume inspo.

R&S

What’s the most exciting thing in your life right now:

Clare

Upcoming travel: Visiting the border with the good people of This is About Humanity to learn more about the crisis at the border, visiting a factory in Naples and then the leather show in Milan, then on the heels of that trip, we head to Paris for Fall market. I’ll stop in New York on each of those trips.