We sat down with Kat, founder of lingerie label Kat Zarra, for a coffee at her favorite downtown NYC spot. She opened up about her design process, creativity and her future plans for her unique collection. Her responses parallel her coffee preferences, extra large & extra strong.
Can you give us the inside scoop on how KZ started and why?
My background is in apparel manufacturing and production. After 10 years of producing other designers’ designs I took a leap of faith and designed, developed and produced my own collection in New York's garment district. I wanted my collection to feel really special and more than just a garment, so we weave handmade brass hardware into the collection. We like to refer to it as jewelry infused lingerie.
Can you tell me a bit about future designs you're working on? Anything you’re super excited about in the works?
You know I just really want to take the metal in our collection further. I want the metal to stand out more and be even bolder. I want to really dive into jeweled lingerie and see how far we can push it. I’m currently sourcing vintage glass cabochons and gems. I am working towards adding more colored stones into the collection as well. The thought of silk intertwined with brass and hot pink faceted glass really excites me.
What's the process of taking an initial idea or sketch and bringing it to fruition?
Yea so start with a sketch then create a very rough initial proto. 9/10 times I end up hating the proto and scratch the idea all together. But that rare proto that works out will move into a second, third and fourth round of proto / sampling. Once the design and pattern is all set, then production begins in the garment district. The process takes anywhere from 6 months to a year.
What your favorite restaurant in NYC?
I really wish I was better at leaving my neighborhood and explored restaurants in more areas. But Dudley’s in the LES, is my go to. The whipped ricotta tastes like clouds.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee to wind up, tea to wind down.
Best career advice you’ve received
Don't take advice from someone you wouldn't trade places with.
Do you ever struggle to stay inspired?
Never, i don't mean to brag, but i can't relate to artist block. I am so overwhelmed with ideas, I feel like I'm drowning in design ideas and there's never enough time to sketch, sample, develop them all. Much of my days are filled with more administrative and organizational tasks so designing unfortunately gets pushed to the back burner.
The core ethos of Les Belles is all about feeling beautiful, inside and out. Can you tell us when you feel the most beautiful?
I feel most beautiful when wearing my own designs. It really just makes me glow with pride to know I've persevered and pushed through to make my dreams a reality. Starting and maintaining a fashion brand has been far from easy so wearing my own production symbolizes a lot for me.
Before you go, answer us this - If you could design a pair of tights, what would it look like & how would you style them?
I am very drawn to the color blue so I think I'd want to create a funky floral print in varying shades of blue. Maybe incorporate an ombré pattern too. Semi sheer. And I love wearing tights with a boxy shift dress that's maybe just a little too short.