My Technical Dress Line, ZANNI

The last time I wrote a personal post on JUGs, I wrote about my move across the country. I briefly mentioned that I wanted to start an athleisure line but mostly brushed it under the rug. In reality, it was the main reason I wanted to move across the country! So today, in a much overdue post, I'm super excited to announce that I launched my technical dress line, ZANNI.

Since I still find writing about your own projects to be nearly impossible so we decided it was best to explain how this all happened in a traditional Who's That Gal interview form. Here's my mini interview with my number one gals, Cam and Meredith:

We knew you were starting ZANNI, but for our audience members that weren't aware, can you explain why you wanted to start a technical dress line?

ZANNI had been something I had been thinking about for a while when I was in Boston. I was living in casual apparel and was definitely guilty of wearing leggings on repeat. It was either that, jeans and a t-shirt, or a cotton dress. Anyone who's experienced Boston's humidity knows that sometimes jeans or a cotton dress are not comfortable if you're out and about. At the same time, I was getting sick of throwing out worn-out clothes. I needed clothing that performed better and would allow me to be less wasteful (shout out to Cam and her environmental lessons).

The idea for the ZANNI dress actually came to me when I was biking to dinner on Nantucket while wearing a cotton Madewell dress. I remember thinking this dress is probably ruined, but it's worth it for tonight's look.  At that point, it had lasted a while, almost a whole summer, but that still wasn't as long as my yoga pants or tops. I kept thinking someone should make basic dresses in the same fabric as workout apparel.

Since it was on my mind, I started looking for dresses with functional fabric and was not finding much. Lululemon and Athleta had a few, but they weren't quite right and were always just a bit too sporty or branded. I wanted something that had functional fabrics, but was more classic and could be worn for any occasion.

So now you have an idea. How did you know you wanted to take the next step?

At this point I was already freelancing full time so I was comfortable with taking responsibility on projects to see them through. I just pretended it was like a typical project for me and tried not to over-think any of it. I think the three biggest indicators that I needed to try this were 1) The idea was constantly on my mind 2) I really wanted to wear the dress I was picturing and 3) I wanted this so badly that I was willing to work overtime between paid clients and ZANNI.

With literally no fashion experience, how did you know where to start?

I asked people who knew.  I spent a lot of time researching and talking to contacts that had some sort of experience in the industry. From those conversations I figured out the necessary essentials like a technical designer, pattern maker, sample maker, and the full factory to make my production. Then I just started to piece things together. I still don't really know what I'm doing and every day I make a mistake, but I try to learn from those mistakes and improve. I consider myself fortunate because as a JUG I had met so many women through our interviews who told us stories about following a vision, despite the obstacles. I think that's the biggest thing to remember - not everyone knows what they are doing. But if you make an effort to do research, ask questions, and just try things,  you can start to figure things out!

What makes a ZANNI dress special?

A ZANNI dress is made out of luxury Italian-made technical fabrics. "Technical," meaning the fabric is a performance knit composed of a polyamide/elastane blends, like your yoga apparel. The fabric is super soft, stretchy, breathable and durable. An added bonus feature is that the fabric is UV protectant, which is cool now that I live LA and the sun's out 24/7. In short, a ZANNI dress for when you want to feel put together, but be as comfortable as you are in your leggings. They are "dresses for whatever" and you can wear them for any occasion. A lot of my friends tell me they wear their dresses multiple days in a row, which is relatable, funny and awesome.

What's next?

The online store has only been live for one month so I'm still working on post-launch stuff like working through the website’s logistical kinks and shipping, etc. Customers have a lot of questions about the fabric and sizing so I’m thinking through ways to communicate that or answer questions in the best manner. And I'm also trying to achieve more awareness via PR outreach and in-person pop-up events. I want to hear what people who aren't just close friends and family think about the dresses. And, eventually, if we're talking long-term, I'd love to build out a full line of technical wardrobe essentials.

Who knows what will happen, but I'm so thankful that I'm around such a community of driven women that it inspired me to test my own idea. And the best part is now I get to wear the dress I was dreaming of!

Where can we find ZANNI?

On our website at ZANNI.LA and on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

All photos were taken by Sarah Shreves for ZANNI.