When Nina Originals was looking for a way to punch up their line, the fashion footwear label turned to Pelle Valore Inc., a Long Island-based leather manufacturer, to provide unique materials to tempt shoppers to touch, feel and try on.
Pelle Valore is one of the few remaining American small-batch leather manufacturers doing heat-transfer prints of foils onto leather, suede, cork, burlap and ultra-suede.
While many footwear companies have turned to producing large batches overseas, Pelle Valore has tapped into an in-demand niche by providing high-quality leathers with no minimum. The company helps brands that are just getting off the ground, as well as those more-established brands like Nina Originals looking to try something new on a small scale.
Vanessa Greco, Pelle Valore director of sales, marketing and design, creates eye-catching designs for companies with a process that begins with old-school trend spotting and mood boards, which then become the basis for sample production. The company offers more than 50 base colors and an array of top finishes to allow for a great variety for their customers.
In the case of Nina Originals, the brand’s sales team was initially hesitant about the printed leathers designer Flori Silverstein was considering from Pelle Valore, unsure of whether they would appeal to its core customer. Silverstein had picked an oversized floral and a neutral geometric print, which she said were unlike anything she had seen among her existing resources. She had been looking for something really unique to introduce printed uppers into the Nina Originals line.
Having no minimum allowed Silverstein the freedom to try and test the fabrication without the risk of financial repercussions. Greco said, “They didn’t have to toil over picking one design, getting a minimum and having to figure out how they were going to use one design across the board.”
For Summer ’14, Nina Originals included Pelle Valore’s floral and geometric prints on just one style, a basic flat ballet pump. After that shoe proved a success, Nina Originals used different Pelle Valore prints in every subsequent line, in multiple silhouettes and usually multiple colorways per print.
In addition to working with established shoe brands like Nina, Greco noted that one of the biggest perks of being a manufacturer with little or no minimums is the ability to offer breaks to companies who are just starting out.
She said, “Mom and pop stores are the founding fathers of this country and any business ever started. If allowing them to order one or two skins gives them something fresh in their store to keep them in business, I’m all for it!”
Greco said she understands that Pelle Valore does not make up the “meat” of anyone’s business, and that they are often doing special work that might cost more than mass imported goods. Yet, she said that if her team demonstrates loyalty and character to the companies as they grow, those companies will bring Pelle Valore with them.