New Girl’s Hannah Simone Takes Us On Modern Vice Factory Tour

Modern Vice co-founder Jordan Adoni and Hannah Simone.
Photo: MTV/Wendy Heisler

Hannah Simone likes shoes. Who doesn’t, right? But work with us, here. So as we were saying, Hannah Simone likes shoes. Flat shoes, spiky shoes, flippy floppy shoes and running shoes. Since she plays a model on New Girl, she gets to wear all kinds of different shoes. One day, she stumbled into a pair of black wedge sneakers that quickly became part of her regular rotation. They were comfy as hell, versatile as heck and looked awesome as f*ck. Hannah Simone danced in them, strutted in them and maybe even rescued a family of baby ducks in them once. (Not confirmed.) They were made by a company called Modern Vice.

Brothers Jordan and Jensen Adoni had a dream to follow in their father’s footsteps and start a shoe business – but not some hackneyed shoe business. They wanted to establish a factory in New York City and craft wares with their bare hands, like men. Only a couple years later, their company Modern Vice holds fort in a 7,000 square foot midtown factory, and they’re one of few manufacturers making shoes in New York.

When Hannah heard their story, she wanted to see what happens behind the scenes at Modern Vice. How did her new favorite pair of sneakers come to life? She found the company’s traditional values and ambitious nature inspiring, and the idea of bringing manufacturing back to America resonated with her. But also, how many times have you seen a shoe being lovingly forged by expert craftsmen? Exactly. Never times. Simone had to see it. Lucky for us, she invited us along for the field trip.

Experienced craftsmen hand make every Modern Vice shoe.
Photo: MTV/Wendy Heisler

So by process of magic, we found ourselves at the Jensen brothers’ factory with Hannah Simone. With her Cece bangs swept to the side, she looked crazy cute in a star-covered sweater from Forever 21 and black Cult of Individuality skinnies. (“I’m obsessed with them. They’re the perfect pair of jeans.”) Her personal style shifts on the daily, she explains, thanks to influences gained from living all over the world. To get you caught up, the girl has lived in India, Cyprus, London, Saudi Arabia and Canada, among others. “Fashion’s the thing that keeps me connected to where I’ve been and what I know. Since my family and friends are scattered all over the planet, the nice thing is that if I miss someone, I usually have a piece in my wardrobe that I went and bought with them.”

We meet Jordan Adoni, who immediately starts handing us pieces of art (shoes) to fondle. Some are made with reclaimed bronze accents. Another was designed in collaboration with his girlfriend Natalie Suarez. A corkboard riddled with sketches shows initial concepts on paper – all their shoes are designed in house by the Adonis and sometimes, trusted pals. Jordan lives and breathes the business, and his passion oozes through every word and movement. “We’re kind of obsessed with shoes,” he says.

A corkboard displays sketches of some of Modern Vice’s signature shoes.
Photo: MTV/Wendy Heisler

Wandering around the Modern Vice factory is like entering this enchanted world where everything around you smells and feels traditional, but the energy pulses with now-ness. Men who have been crafting shoes for decades put the final touches on velvet loafers that say “MERCY” and “CLIQUE”, an unabashed nod to Kanye West. Half finished ice skates are draped within stepping distance from metallic wedge sneakers. Swaths of fabric from Italy and Spain lay in loose piles around every corner.

Jordan shows Hannah the Kanye-inspired loafers.
Photo: MTV/Wendy Heisler

Everything is done by hand in the Modern Vice factory.
Photo: MTV/Wendy Heisler

As we browse shelves of finished footwear, Hannah describes the first pair of shoes she was obsessed with. “They were reinterpreted Dorothy shoes,” she says, speaking of the iconic Wizard of Oz ruby slippers. “But I loved them so much I could barely wear them. It was more of an emotional relationship.” Favorite pair of sneakers? “You can’t really beat a pair of Chucks.” Favorite boots? “I really like a good pair of leather boots. One of my favorite pairs are Hugo Boss riding boots that I’ve had for years.” (Of course we had to take a peek at some of her personal collection, so Hannah obliged and sent us a photo.)

These shoes in Hannah’s personal collection all have a connection to someone in her life. From L-R: Chucks, Anthropologie flats, Cowboy boots from London, Hugo Boss boots, Cole Haan heels, and vintage pumps from New York.
Photo: Hannah Simone

Jordan guides us through rows of busy shoemakers and vintage machines. This factory has everything: shoe molds, hats that say “F*CK” and a 200-year-old ghost named Agatha whose arms move like noodles and she’s ready to party. (Sorry guys, I’ve been missing Stefon). But really, the factory DOES have everything: from scribbles of ideas to product photography to the showcase room, every facet happens on location. Therein lies the beauty: the Adoni brothers can essentially (and sometimes do) dream up a shoe and by the end of the day, hold a prototype in their hands. They can oversee everything from start to finish. Even the boxes are handmade. (Using paper created in the mountains of Nepal and sprayed with a blend of amber-saffron-raspberry-thyme-and-jasmine-infused cologne, in case you were wondering.)

With four of eight Adoni Group companies crafting their product inside the factory, the place can turn out 1,000 pairs of shoes PER. DAY. This is no joke. giraffe WALK shoes, which have been seen on Beyonce’s toes, are piled high in multiple corners. The craftsmen work intently on Klingbeil ice skates and Modern Vice creations as well as the Jay Adoni line, which was created by Jordan’s father. Sidenote: Papa Adoni started his own shoe company when he was 18-years-old, as one does.

L: Beyonce wears giraffe WALK shoes in Cuba. R: giraffe WALK shoes in the Modern Vice factory.
Photo: Getty + MTV/Wendy Heisler

After a thorough snoop through the Modern Vice factory, it’s impossible to not feel buzzed. It might be the palpable Jordan Adoni energy, it might be the glue, but it’s mostly because the place is exhilarating. It’s like shoe Narnia in the middle of midtown. Hannah brings up the Modern Vice sneaker wedges that brought her here and remarks that she had no idea what to expect behind the factory door. “There’s always that kind of fascination when you find something you love – you want to peek behind the curtain to see how it’s done. Especially when the method is so unique.”

Jordan Adoni and Hannah Simone in the Modern Vice factory.
Photo: MTV/Wendy Heisler

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