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Trendsetters at Work: Matt Bernson

Trendsetters, Matt Bernson Jennifer Cooper, E!

We know stars like Lily Collins and Amanda Seyfried can't get enough of Matt Bernson's chic shoes, but what does the designer reach for when he's getting dressed in the morning?

Not surprisingly, Bernson, who also creates luxe jewelry, knows exactly what he wants when it comes to his personal style—a fact that is evident in everything from his wardrobe to his cool Tribeca showroom.

He recently threw open the doors to the space to give us a peek at his stylish lifestyle—and share how he came to have an eponymous line!

Here's what he had to say:

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Trendsetters, Matt Bernson Jennifer Cooper, E!

How did you get started in your career?
I was working in construction in New York City, was traveling in India and came upon a sandal in a marketplace. I bought it as a gift for my then girlfriend, now wife. I decided I wanted to try and import that sandal. When I started to meet with factories, I didn't like what I was finding so I ended up working with them to make sandals I thought would work for the women I knew in NYC To this day, I do a majority of the design work in factories with technicians and build and test the shoes on actual feet.

Describe your office style. What do you typically wear to work?
Button-down shirt, untucked. Either Acne Jeans or Zara pants that I buy in the Hong Kong airport. Recently, I have been wearing a pair of custom dress shoes from Japan, simple black lace-ups.

What are your favorite brands of accessories?
I really like Porter bags. I think Want Les Essentials does a really great job. Vintage Persol sunglasses. Common Projects for sneakers.

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Trendsetters, Matt Bernson Jennifer Cooper, E!

Describe your work environment.
Our office and showroom are located below our retail store in Tribeca. It is in an old carriage house on a cobblestone street. The showroom has a double heighted atrium that lets in natural light. There are original rough stone walls and slate floors. Our office is all open so we are all aware of everything happening. We are eager to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. We want every customer and every retailer to feel that they were serviced at the highest level they have experienced. 

Tell us about your office décor or creative inspiration.
The showroom is modern industrial with a hint of tribal influence. There are paintings from our photoshoot, steel and glass vitrines I had made to display the shoes. My favorite piece is our vintage modern bar from Belgium. Our custom striped handrail is pretty cool.

My favorite thing in my office/on my desk is:
A rock from Martha's Vineyard, I picked it up while holding my son and just seeing it reminds me of that moment.

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Trendsetters, Matt Bernson Jennifer Cooper, E!

I never leave home without…
Vintage black Persol Sunglasses, keys for office and home and my wallet that really only carries my ID and Amex.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Watching and reading Apartamento magazine from cover to cover.

What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
My own: Don't listen to other people's advice. I am sure that isn't original.

What are your travel must-haves?
iPad stocked with full seasons of TV shows. Melatonin for jet lag. Filson travel bag for weekend [trip], XL Victorinox for longer. Fashion magazines and a notebook with pens that flow easily.

What are your beauty must-haves?
Skin Trip moisturizer. [I] use it for face and hair.

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My favorite gadgets for work and play:
I keep this digital guitar tuner clipped to my acoustic called a Snark. Helps me tune quick so I can play enthusiastically but badly.

I read these web sites/blogs/newspapers/books daily:
New York Times, Refinery29, Business of Fashion, Style.com, French Vogue.com, WhoWhatWear, Trendland, and then a ton of blogs I feel I should keep under wraps…

If I wasn't doing this job, I would be…
A professional surfboard shaper.

Can you share some advice for aspiring career girls?
I worry when designers say they "design for themselves." That should be one part of something MUCH bigger. Yes, you have to like it, but so do 100,000 other people too.

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