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- About Us
Savvy Apparel is an Apparel Product Development Firm and Cut & Sew Contractor for the Apparel and Fashion Industry. Savvy has been involved in the development of many apparel collections being sold at well known retailers such as Nordstrom, Macys, Costco, Walmart, and high end boutiques throughout the country. Services Include: Apparel Design, Pattern Making, Digitizing, Grading, Markers, Tech Packs, Prototypes, Final Samples, Sourcing, Production Management, and Production. We are heavily involved in the development and production for street wear men’s, and women’s apparel. Gradually, our product category has expanded to workout clothing, ski wear, outdoor mountaineering, sports cycling, leisure, lifestyle, and workwear clothing.
We help clothing brands bring their ideas to life.
To establish Savvy Apparel Studio as the leader in the development and production of apparel goods, while honoring our values of efficiency, accuracy, creativity, and honesty. We make design concepts and ideas a reality, for not only established apparel brands, but also small businesses just getting started. We make dreams come true.
About Our Founder
A passion for fashion runs deep in MABEL MONTALVA’s DNA. “Growing up in my parents’ clothing factory in Chile, I knew that fashion was my destiny. I love everything about it; the creativity, the feel of the textiles, the joy of seeing one of my designs come to life.”
Mabel’s (pronounced Ma-bell) designs and technical expertise have attracted high-profile clients, including Macy’s, Nordstrom, Costco, and Walmart, just to name a few. Her apparel collections appear in high-end boutiques across the country, and range from men’s and women’s streetwear, leisure, and workwear to performance apparel including ski, mountaineering, cycling, and workout gear. When asked for the secret to her success, Mabel smiles and replies, “Secret? There’s no secret! I’ve spent my whole life in this profession. I’ve dedicated myself to perfecting the craftsmanship and artistry necessary to stand out in this industry, and I maintain strict quality standards for myself and for my business. My experience extends far beyond that of just fashion designer.”
As a child, Mabel learned how to sew from the professionals in her parents’ factory. Post high school she traveled to Europe to study fashion design and industrial pattern making at the prestigious Escuela Guerrero in Barcelona, Spain. Escuela Guerrero is renowned for rigorous performance standards. Mabel captured the school’s top prize for her final project, earning not only a scholarship, but a teaching certificate as well.
She moved to the US in 1998 and married her husband, Roberto Alarcon, then began working in sales for Nordstrom. In 2001 Mabel and Roberto welcomed twins. During the next five years Mabel took on small design projects until opportunity knocked at her door. Shade Clothing, a small brand in Utah, experienced incredible success with the introduction of the cap-sleeve shirt, which put them on the fashion map. Mabel created designs for them that were body conscious without revealing too much skin. Shade Clothing quickly became the leader of the “modest apparel” trend in the mid-2000s. Her first swim collection created a huge splash. “One day I was at the community pool, and I counted eight women wearing my designs.”
At Shade, Mabel wore a lot of hats. She not only designed, but developed patterns, managed sewers, performed factory audits, and sourced new fabrics and accessories. With experience in so many facets of the business, she opened a small studio of her own where she could experiment with new concepts.
By 2008 she was ready to grow, and took on a new client, Modbod, another modest clothing brand. Modbod was under new ownership that wanted to aggressively grow the business. They acquired another company, Undertease, which had accounts with Nordstrom, Walmart, and Costco. “What a hectic, busy, exciting time!” exclaims Mabel. Her responsibilities were similar to her position at Shade, with the addition of fabric design. She traveled extensively, performing factory audits in Colombia, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, and India.
Her work was gaining notice. In 2009 she was featured as one of the 10 Coolest Entrepreneurs of the Utah Valley by Utah Business Quarterly. She designed a new line of women’s basics and christened it Mabel Montalva, finally attaching her name to her work. Shortly thereafter she was approached by the LDS Church to create wardrobes for eight missions in Chile in celebration of the church’s 50 th anniversary in the country. She accepted that commission, and moved back to Chile for two years. “That was a dream project. I even got to work at my family’s business for a time.”
Returning to the US in 2012, Mabel began teaching Fashion Entrepreneurship at Salt Lake Community College. She added a new class, Production, to the college’s schedule. Both classes remain popular today. During this time, she was hired by DownEast Outfitters as a Technical Designer. She created tech packs for them using the latest product lifecycle management software, handling approximately 40 new styles per month, including in-line products. She traveled to Shanghai to audit factory production.
Mabel became a mother again in 2014, and made the decision to retire so she could stay home with the baby. That didn’t last very long – Persnickety children’s clothing came calling, and Mabel found herself immersed in a new facet of the clothing industry. This time, however, she supplied the company with cut-and-sew services, establishing her own factory in Utah County. She also designed a dress line called Lolabelen. The family relocated to Nevada in 2015 where Mabel established a home studio. Her own clothing lines – She-Traveled and Angelwish – began there. Barbell Apparel, specializing in athletic wear, also joined her at the studio, where she still creates technically demanding clothing for them from concept through production.
SAVVY APPAREL STUDIO became the next step in Mabel’s fashion journey. It evolved organically, a natural gathering of her diverse skill sets. “I’m fortunate to bring together my professional training and many years of experience in this business. I have a solid foundation and an intuitive understanding of clothing construction. I’m well-versed in both design and fabrication. I understand that the tiniest error can lead to the loss of an entire production run, and that translates into hard dollars. My standards are high – they have to be, to protect my clients and my own business.”
As the CEO and Technical Fashion Designer of SAVVY APPAREL STUDIO, Mabel not only has the opportunity to indulge her love of fashion, but to flex her entrepreneurial muscle as well. Savvy is a full-service firm, providing not only design, but pattern making, prototypes and samples, material sourcing, production management, and garment production. Savvy maintains US manufacturing facilities in California and Utah, with a dedicated US/UK team handling the day-to-day product development. Mabel has assembled an expert sourcing team of 43 individuals based in Taipei, and holds contracts with more than 50 fabrication facilities across the globe. With this type of international reach, Savvy is able to leverage locations and reduce operating costs to provide maximum production value for clients.
What’s next for this passionate entrepreneur? “Global growth. There are so many small designers out there with big ideas. I want to help them bring their products to market, and I’m in the unique position to assist from start to finish. That’s an incredible blessing!”
- Our Team
- Our Blog
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