Above: Vallnez Mozell.
“ I feel that illusion of endless resources is starting to fade from our society. ”
As the museum anticipates our reopening, we look forward to one of our favorite outdoor events: The Market at Brooklyn Museum. In the meantime, together with our marketplace partner, Brooklyn Pop-Up, we are highlighting several of our outdoor vendors in a Virtual Marketplace. Along with handcrafted products that are available for direct purchase, there are interviews with each of our highlighted vendors and photos to give more context to their work. Please follow the link below to visit the Virtual Marketplace and learn more about our amazing vendors!
Brooklyn Museum Shop: Tell us about VALLNEZ MOZELL.
Vallnez Mozell: I started my brand in 2014 with a concentration on fashion accessories such as jewelry and handbags. Always feeling the need to produce more styles to keep up with trends I found myself overwhelmed. I felt the brand needed a new singular focus and decided to challenge myself with shoe making, a passion I always had, but lack the confidence to tackle. After taking courses in shoe making, I decided to concentrate on espadrilles sandals because it doesn't require complicated equipment and could be done in my home. The style of the espadrille allows me to play with a variety of materials to create the uppers of the sandal.
BKMS: VALLNEZ MOZELL is dedicated to low/zero waste. Can you tell us more about this, and how VALLNEZ MOZELL products are produced?
VM: I have always felt guilty about throwing away useful things which caused me to horde random pieces not knowing how they could be used in the future. A couple of years ago I read an article about textile waste in the US written by the creator of FabScrap, a Brooklyn based company that collects fabric remnants destined for the landfill from fashion houses around the city. FabScrap then sells the fabric remnants to small batch designers at a discounted rate. Seeing an opportunity to make my product sustainable and cost effective I began making my espadrilles using fabric remnants that I could purchase or trade with other designers. Wanting to continue the model of reclaim and reuse, I utilize the cut fabric waste to make patchwork designs or trade with other designers to make embellishments such as tassels.
I handcraft every pair of VALLNEZ MOZELL espadrilles in my home studio in Brooklyn. I source my material locally as much as possible with the main exception of the jute soles. I struggled to find a US manufacturer of jute soles. After much research I discovered a family owned company in Spain (home of the espadrilles) who uses 50% jute and 50% recycle fibers to produce handmade jute soles. Their dedication to sustainability follows my brand model so it was a perfect pairing.
To create my signature comfort cork insoles, I use shoddy (shredded fabric) for the padding and a layer of recycled cork secured to the base of the jute sole with a nontoxic water-based glue.
BKMS: VALLNEZ MOZELL encourages individuals to shop sustainable, donate, recycle and reuse - why is this important to you? And what can a customer expect from your products?
VM: I feel that illusion of endless resources is starting to fade from our society. Most companies are finally embracing a sustainable model. As consumers, we should make a point to seek out these companies that are attempting to reverse the damage we have caused with fast fashion and single use plastics. As individuals, we can follow suit. If we think of the earth as a house that we call occupy then it's up to use to maintain it, to protect it and to make it structurally sound for future generations.
The benefit of espadrille sandals is its sustainability. Made with natural components such as rubber, jute fiber, cork and cotton which can be given back to the earth without causing harm. Since most of my products use a dyed leather, I have created an up-cycle program which allows a customer to return their old espadrilles and receive a discount on a new pair of VALLNEZ MOZELL espadrilles. The used pair of espadrilles will either be repaired, repurposed, or recycled.
BKMS: What inspired your current collection?
VM: In order to feed my creative impulses, I learned another skill, textile weaving. It was my desire to use my woven textile to create one of a kind espadrilles. After finalizing my design, I was sidetracked by the current pandemic. Seeing the need to protective gear, I ceased production of the espadrilles and began making unity face mask using my woven textiles.
BKMS: What is your connection to Brooklyn?
VM: I married a native of Brooklyn 8 years ago. We have the honor of being the fourth generation to occupy the 100 year old family home. It doesn't get more Brooklyn than that!
The Brooklyn Museum Shop is excited to virtually offer The Market at Brooklyn Museum with our marketplace partner, Brooklyn Pop-Up. To shop, please follow the link, here.
All images ©Vallnez Mozell, 2020.
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