My name is Laura Vogel and I am the founder, designer, and CEO at Vogelle. While I was living in Milan, Italy during the Spring of 2019, my lifelong dream of owning an international fashion brand became my reality. I lived on the Navigli Canals in Milan next to a motorcycle repair shop and slowly became friends with the Italian men who worked there. They would repair the motorcycle seats with leather and would use the scraps to create some of the most amazing leather jackets I had ever seen. One day, while we were hanging out in our shared back porch area, I asked them where they source their leather from.
I had spent months exploring Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, Verona, and more during my time in Italy. In every location there were countless handbag stores and all of the bags were made in Italy. After months of seeing this, I made it my mission to track down a local manufacturer before coming back to the States.
The motorcycle workers next door, who were now my friends, offered to drive me to the atelier where they were sourcing their leather from. We ended up in the north of Milan and I was following the group down a small staircase into a basement. The staircase opened to a stunning atelier and this young Italian man was blasting music and creating a beautiful fashion collection with leathers and suedes.
He pulled out his leather textile book for me to look at and gave me the contact information for his supplier. From this meeting, I was able to arrange a few meetings in Tortona, the fashion district of Milan, with some leather suppliers and manufacturers.
I met people who sourced leather from Spain, Tuscany and Turin, but nothing seemed to be a perfect match. They were all able to provide the highest quality leather, but they were not able to assemble the purses. So I would be using multiple manufacturing channels to arrive at my final product which would increase all of my costs and would lower my ability to monitor the quality.
I thanked all of my contacts and came to the conclusion that while this was a great idea, it was likely not feasible at the time. But, one of my contacts came back and said he had one more person for me to meet. He gave me directions and I took the metro from Milan all the way north to the last stop. An older Italian man picked me up at the metro and we drove for another twenty minutes. He spoke minimal English and I spoke minimal Italian but we managed to make small talk about my purse idea and he showed me his clothing line, which was hanging in the backseat. We finally arrived at a small house in Monza and were greeted at the door by a man and his two little dogs. He invited us in and showed me all of his amazing leather creations. He produces for Gucci, Versace, Furla, and Valentino, to name a few. I was absolutely blown away. He handmakes everything in his house with a small team and every single piece that he creates is of the highest quality. He sources the leather, threads, metals and stamps and completes the entire production process on his property. I knew that this was meant to be and I was so grateful to him for making time to meet me. He offered to take me on as a client and try a small production run.
I met the amazing manufacturer that I work with now about five days before I left Milan. I came back to the United States and stayed in touch with him on WhatsApp. Once I was back in Colorado, I began ordering cheap purses on Amazon and Asos that were similar to my design idea. I would draw out my designs with exact measurements and mail them to Milan.
The photos above are a few from my life-changing few months in Milan. The Gucci Gardens, sneaking into Milan Fashion Week Shows, my university, the leather swatches from one manufacturer, my favorite handbag shop, and more. As I scroll through my camera roll, these are the photos that stand out to me the most when I reminisce on the creation of Vogelle. It seems as if everything I spent my time doing while I was there, and even before going there, led me to this. I have always wanted to have my own business in the fashion industry, and I took that leap of faith in 2019. I can’t wait to continue designing, sharing my stories, and connecting with you all throughout this journey. This brand would be nothing without all of you and I thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart.
- Laura xx