Clare Vivier | LA Stories
Clare V., the cute yet seriously chic bags and accessories with a French flavour, inject some fun, colour, and whimsy into the everyday. In a world where brand offerings can be achingly earnest and in turn, a little uptight, we celebrate all that is the Clare V. brand and wanted to know more about Clare Vivier, the dynamic American founder.
What started as a necessity – a laptop case that was stylish as well as practical – propelled Clare Vivier to launch her namesake label. Eight years later and the lifestyle brand is buzzing with a large, global, scaling and loyal following; while leading the way in unique brand identity, product quality, supporting local and giving back.
We all remember our first brush with a Clare V. accessory. It may have been the colour, the texture, the wit, the sheer practicality, or all of the above, and then there is the packaging, the finale of sale that supports your tres chic choice, and offers a little bit of fun too.
Our founders, Juliette Arent & Sarah-Jane Pyke experienced the next level of this Clare V. gold dust at the company’s downtown studio in Los Angeles and then in-store at Silverlake – driven between the two by the uber (modest) Clare Vivier herself…
Did you have the vision for the brand for long? What was the inspiration?
I had the vision for the brand when I was working as a journalist for French television and I couldn’t find a functional, yet stylish laptop case.
Can you tell us about your decision to manufacture locally?
I find that for us, manufacturing locally gives us a huge advantage. We can visit our five factories throughout LA, and really keep a hands-on approach to the production of our bags.
Apart from your own brand, you support local LA brands such as Annie Costello Brown – can you tell us some more about this?
When I first started Clare V., the most loyal customers were my friends. We’ve all supported each other over the years, and it’s been a beautiful thing to see the growth of so many friends’ brands, such as Annie and Grace Lee.
Your brand embodies French chic in an approachable, fun way. What is your connection with France?
My husband is French, from the Loire Valley, and I lived in Paris for years, where we first met over 20 years ago.
You appear to be very close to your brand and the people who work with you in the studio and in your stores – how important is this to you?
Extremely. I have an ‘open door’ mentality and really encourage my employees to come to me personally with any questions, concerns or accomplishments they’d like to share.
How has the digital age and rise of social media helped your brand?
Tremendously. Social media has changed the game, especially for brands like ours, where in the beginning we relied heavily on word of mouth and then on traditional magazines. Social media has allowed us to gain visibility and have personal connections with our customers from all over the world.
Your brand is very visually engaging and consistent – product, packaging, retail design and so on – are you involved in all aspects?
Yes, I definitely like to have my eyes on pretty much everything that leaves our studio. I also like to visit our stores often to keep consistency throughout the different areas of LA and New York that we have locations.
Do you believe style translates between fashion and interiors?
I do. If you visit my home, you’d see a clear connection and similar aesthetic to my office and even our stores. It’s all very much my style, which translates into what I wear every day too.
How do you approach interiors for your stores?
I love clean design, pops of color, subtle French aspects, and art that I have a personal connection to.
Why did you choose this neighbourhood and can you share some favourite local haunts?
My husband and I have lived in our home for over 15 years and have seen the neighbourhood change a lot over the years. We love it and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. A few of our favorites are Stella for lovely mussels and wine, Cook Book for delicious produce and takeaway, Foxhole to get a pair of vintage Levi’s revived, and Broome Street for an almond cortado and a gift for a friend.
And what is your approach to interiors in your own home?
My approach is comfortable, approachable and colorful with contrasting textures and shapes. My home has lots of lovely family pictures and pieces of art that are very personal.
Talk us through your typical day in LA…
Wake up and have an espresso, take my son Oscar to school, get to the studio and check my email, usually have a few meetings with my team, go for lunch in the area and catch up on phone calls and emails, more meetings, go home and have dinner with my husband and son, if I’m lucky he’s making something like ratatouille for dinner.
Where you draw your daily inspiration?
I always draw the most inspiration when I’m travelling. Our family goes to France every summer, and there’s never a time I don’t come back with inspiration that comes out in the next season of Clare V.
What does living a beautiful life mean to you?
Doing what you love, being surrounded by wonderful people, laughing a lot and giving back.
What are your favourite travel destinations?
France, Minnesota – to see my family, and Mexico.
Favourite style icon?
Could you name a quote that sums up how you live life?
“There, but for the grace of God, go I.” I’m not religious, but I think there’s not a better saying reminding us that so much of what we have in life is by luck, to be ever thankful for it, and to have empathy for others.”
Best piece of advice you have been given?
“You can be whatever you want to be, baby.”
What are you currently…
Coveting: Celine pumps
Wanderlusting: A Mexican beach
Reserving: Bestia for dinner
Preparing: Clare V. Fall 2017
Watching: The Crown
Reading: NY Times, Swing Time by Zadie Smith, & The New Yorker
Trawling: Everything but the House
Learning: How to run a growing business every day
Giving: to Every Mother Counts (a charity close to my heart)
Dreaming: Of a tennis and hiking tropical vacation