VALAS LOS ANGELES
Valas Los Angeles was the first brand we approached when we decided to launch Well(un)known. Their brand is built on family and their designs are the definition of attention-to-detail.
Meet Valas Los Angeles...
- VALAS Los Angeles was built on love of family as well as loss. Can you share the origin of the brand for those who may not be aware?
Valas was incepted during a tough part of my life.
In 2010, my life completely changed. That year I lost a close girlfriend, causing everything to shift for me. Because of the circumstances that took place, I left my management position at Armani and within my time of grieving I knew I couldn’t return to that previous lifestyle. Thankfully in 2011, I was presented the opportunity to start being creative and produce ideas and products that came to mind, something that she and a few other friends and I worked towards in the past. Shortly after in 2012, Kenny, my brother joined me in this journey. In that year we incorporated and launched our very first collection that consisted of leather accessories (e.g., shoes, bags).
- The Voyager is such a unique, and staple, accessory as is the Clara Bag. Can you share your design inspiration behind each?
Our Voyager backpack was inspired by a soft cloth bag that was both large and shapeless, I came across it from a far within a busy multilevel market in Seoul, South Korea. It wasn’t the prettiest of bags, honestly, it was quiet the opposite, but something about the bag stuck with me, there was something special about it. As the image kept reappearing to me I kept noticing the many pockets it contained, I took that idea and applied it to a backpack with structure and made the pockets applicable to our modern trinkets we often find ourselves carrying on a day-to-day basis.
The Clara bag is inspired by today’s requirements one has to sometimes meet in order to bring in their bag when attending most large audience events such as pro sports games, concerts, and festivals. That requirement is carrying a clear visible bag in order to bring it in. Once they became more popular and started circulating throughout the luxury space, we knew it was time for us to create our own version. We decided to stray away from the popular choice of PVC plastic and use a more structured material such as acrylic to match the structured aesthetic that is consistent throughout our bag line. Of course it wouldn’t be a Valas bag without the incorporation of leather. This was the challenging part. We knew we didn’t want to take the easy route and apply the leather onto the acrylic in the easiest of ways; the application had to be durable and represent the craftsmanship we stand by. This is why our maker decided to hand drill each visible hole where he then runs a needle to hand sew it all together. The Clara bag is definitely one of our proudest and most intricate pieces yet.
- Like WELL(UN)KNOWN, there’s only two of you running the entire VALAS brand. What’s your day-to-day like and how do you balance in time for self?
It’s definitely not your typical 9 to 5 shift. The days start early typically with emails and checking our site for orders, inquiries, and or general questions. From there, we run our work related errands, and then meet with one another towards the afternoon until the evening to discuss and work on both current and future projects. Lastly, we can’t forget to mention the events that typically happen during the nights that are essential in maintaining and gaining relationships. Overall, the work doesn’t really stop, you can’t really turn it off or on, and as it comes it comes. You just have to know how to prioritize and know what your body needs throughout the grind. For example, I love to run so I make sure to get it in at least 5-6 times a week. – K.V.
My day to day consists of emails but most importantly searching and sourcing new inspirations. These new inspirations may come from anywhere such as: individuals, objects, colors, and even emotions. It is also important for me to workout everyday, this allows me to release any stress or tension I may have and overall helps me maintain balance throughout life and be at my best for what each day may bring.
- COVID-19 has caused the fashion industry to pivot and some retailers have had to close their doors for good and other brands see remote-working as a permanent solution. Has the pandemic caused VALAS to revise any of its business strategies?
The covid-19 has definitely been impactful towards all retailers and most brands; this cause of event has reinforced our general mindset towards e-commerce, at some point in the future our goal is to generate the majority of our revenue through online sales. But as a whole, we know that it is vital for us to be in stores. Without the stores we’re in we wouldn’t be where we are at, nor have been discovered by the amazing individuals that we’re extremely proud to say wear or are supporters of our brand.
- VALAS started in shoe design and branched into other accessory categories. Do you have plans for expansion in coming seasons?
Yes, easy as that. We have a lot of areas or spaces that we would love to enter. As of now we’re focusing on cut and sewn leisure wear (Sweaters, sweats, shirts, etc.). As we grow in that space over time it will only be a natural progression for us to start creating entire collections as we currently do with our accessories.
- Fast-fashion seems to be the easy route while VALAS takes great pride in the detail of its products such as meticulous measuring, laser engraving, custom Japan-made hardware and even hand-stitching. Why is attention to detail so important for your brand?
Coming from a luxury retail background, I gained an appreciation for quality; the touch and feel of materials, the cleanness within the hardware’s, the zippers and how easily they functioned, and the overall feeling and confidence consumers gained by wearing those items. I wanted the same for our brand. I wanted something that matched that same level of quality and some. If we were going to do this we were not going to cut corners, but only use the best materials we were able to source. We figured to come correct or don’t come at all. We wanted to make sure our brand was able to stand tall next to the greats within all the stores that we imagined to be in.
Lastly, we just want to remind everyone to stay safe throughout the Covid-19 threat and most importantly be a voice against the hate and injustices that continue to remain an issue throughout our communities. May peace be with you all, one love.