Located in downtown LA, behind a metal gate, on a not so well lit street, is the ZAK brand. I press the buzzer and out comes the man himself, standing 6 feet plus and 23 years young, Zachary Alexander Kaufman. Don’t let his age fool you, he has been at this game for awhile, knows what he wants, and how to do it.
Give the readers a little background behind the ZAK brand.
It has gone through a couple phases. It first started out under the brand name COA, and then a year ago I needed to ramp it up and give it new life, so ZAK brand was born. I call it post streetwear to allow customers to identify with the product. My main focus is to create a clean look with a little bit of a street edge to give it a metropolitan feel.
Where do you get your inspiration?
A lot of brands travel, and we do our fair share, but most of it comes from LA. It can seriously come from walking down Alameda and hitting a pothole. I try to capture the real grit of the city and put that into the clothes.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
It would have to be the response and reaction from everybody. For as long as I have been working in this industry, I have never gotten such good feedback. Everyone likes not only the clothes, but also the branding and the full togetherness of the collection. I don’t like to leave things open ended and up for interpretation. I want to show my vision and you can like it or not, so the fact that the response has been so positive is great.
On top of that, we have gotten into all of the specialty store accounts as well as the major accounts we wanted to get into.
What are must have items from your Fall 2010 collection?
Based on the response we have gotten, it would have to be the denim and outerwear. For denim it would be our Crinkled Denim and Burnt Jean. There is a funny story with the Burnt Jean. Our buddy, Charles Devegvar, who is a photographer, went around the country for 6 months and literally destroyed this pair of jeans he was wearing. When he came back and I saw it, I had to use his jeans for my collection. I wanted to replicate the wash on the jean to represent everything it went through. I mean that thing went everywhere like Burning Man. He told me that he would let me have the jean as long as I told people that he created the wash. I told him that the closest he would get to that was calling it the Burnt Jean.
For outerwear it would definitely be the ZAK Trench and our all over crinkled Moto Jacket. The Moto Jacket has gotten a lot of play from stylist pulls.
When does this drop in stores?
Our first delivery is July 15th and the second delivery is September 15th.
Which brands and/or designers do you think are killing it right now?
Right now I am into Lanvin and Viktor Rolf. I have always been a Y-3 fan.
What are you working on next?
Right now we are working on Spring 2011 and have also plugged in some pieces for Fall 2011. I really want to do some graphic tees, but I feel it is difficult to design something that is true to your brand without biting someone else’s concept because the market is so over flooded.
Also the next big project that we are working on is the women’s collection, which will debut for Fall 2011. We are creating a collection that is not a direct match to the men’s line. Basically like, “This is the woman that dates the ZAK guy”. It will be its own; product, silhouettes, and fabrics. Nothing is going to conflict.
You were talking about getting into accessories next.
Yes. Shoes would be first, followed by sunglasses. With shoes I want to keep things very dark tone and Fall looking, even if it is sold all year round. I would go with canvas and leather fabrications on a low top, mid, hi top, sneaker and a boot. For sunglasses, I would want to take that back to my high school days because that was a point in my life where I wore them a lot. I would kind of follow the Spy MC shape and then tweak it to make it more present.
Where do you see the ZAK brand 5 years from now?
I would want to have opened retail stores. Judging by the way I foresee the economy, the only way to expand the business is to distribute merchandise in our own stores. Very much similar to what Diesel and G-Star have done.
If you could do a collaboration with someone who would it be?
A collaboration with Panerai would be a dream come true.
Considering the state of the economy, how do you plan to continue to build the ZAK brand?
The way I view the economy is that it is not going to change and I need to adapt to it. If we are able to do this, we will be successful and grow. The book Wikinomics discusses a company structure that I am trying to replicate - Making products faster, better, and cheaper, not necessarily through vertical integration, but by working with the best people possible. Along with this business structure I need to continually progress and develop innovative clothing that stands out.
What would your last meal be?
Japanese BBQ at Gyu-Kaku because of all of the great happy hour memories.
If you could have coffee with someone dead or alive, who would it be?
If you could hop on a plane and go anywhere right now, where would you go?
Koh Samui, Thailand
What is on your iPod right now?
Believe it or not I do not own one, but I do blast iTunes. Right now I am listening to Kid Cudi.
If your house was on fire and you could only take 3 things with you, what would it be?
My cell phone, these pair of jeans I am wearing because it is the first pair of jeans I am trying to wear down myself, and my stuff animal Puss Puss that I have had since I was born.
What is your favorite piece in the ZAK brand collection?
I would have to say the Racer Jacket. It is an all over quilted leather jacket that was inspired by my step mom’s vintage Chanel purse.
What is your favorite piece of clothing that you own in your closet?
It would have to be this old Quiksilver t-shirt that I stole from my friend because he stole my Diamond Supply shirt. This shirt is concert weight and the print is falling apart, but I still wear it to the office from time to time.
What do you want to do before you get too old?
Definitely teach. I am actually giving my first lecture in April at Moorpark Community College.
Something you can’t live without?
There is so much stuff in this new age. I would have to say my car.
That is so rational.
It is either that or rubber bands.
Thanks to Zach for the chat and make sure to keep an eye out for the ZAK brand to drop in stores this July and for the website to fully launch next month.