ZARA TEREZ (UPPER RIGHT) AT HER SHOWROOM
Scan the room at most popular boutique fitness and yoga studios like Soul Cycle, Barry’s Bootcamp, and Pure Yoga; online fitness shops like Carbon 38, Bandier, and Net-A-Sporter; and the fitness departments at stores like Nordstroms and Saks Fith Avenue, and you’ll see a vast assortment of crazy prints, bold colors and graphic patterns. The biggest trend in fitness apparel now is printed leggings, and a handful of specialty fitness brands have established themselves as the trendy favorites: Prismsport, Onzie, Olympia, and one of the most popular, Zara Terez.
Zara Terez is the woman behind this burgeoning brand and she is 29 years old. Her wild and whimsical prints like Candy Crush, Mix Tape, Some Kale, Peacock, Pineapple and Emoji cannot be missed. Terez was raised in the fashion business. Her father, who she describes as a “garmento” owned Budget Dress, and was a manufacturer and wholesaler of women’s dresses. Her mother was the owner of All My Favorite Things, a manufacturer of jewelry and accessories in New York. Both are now retired.
Terez originally launched her brand as a leather handbag company, and almost by accident. Stumbling upon a custom leather shop in lower Manhattan in 2008, she asked if they could make a hundred bags of her design. When they said yes, she asked about a thousand. She saw there was a market for cool but affordable handbags. Terez told Style of Sport, “Everything was either high-end designer or mass market, but there was nothing in that $300-400 range. There was also not enough stuff out there that allowed for freedom of expression.” She was determined to make them here as well. “I was going to rebuild the garment district,” she commented with youthful determination, having watched so much of the fashion manufacturing business leave NYC as she was growing up.
MIX TAPE PRINT (LEFT) AND OTHER ASSORTED LEGGINGS
Terez described her bags as a juxtaposition between the Upper East Side and Soho, “On the outside they had these classic beautiful silhouettes, and on the insides, crazy prints. To me, the inside, was just as important as outside.” With great initial success, she quit her job and went full force — even getting into Nordstroms — just in time for the economy to crash in 2008. A market where there was once a void became completely saturated. Michael by Michael Kors, Marc by Marc Jacobs, and Tory Burch became the big names in bridge line handbags, and Terez now faced competition from designers with far more experience.
What changed the tide were her scuba cases, which were essentially the linings of her handbags, this time with the inside out. She had produced these pouches to go with leather handbags, and had a basket of them on display on a trade show in 2010. Neiman Marcus, Urban Outfitters, and a large Japanese account snatched them up and that’s where she realized this was what people wanted. Dance bags and gym totes followed, all with those signature linings outside.
In 2012 she realized leggings were next. Says Terez, “I never wanted to get into clothing, to do ready-to-wear. I didn’t want to have to fit people. That sounded like a crazy pain in the ass! But leggings were not clothing.” Starting first by finding great prints like a galaxy, splatter and leopard, she soon began creating her own fabric, own prints, own patterns and never looked back at leather again.
Look closely at Zara Terez prints and you can see what is distinctive about them. Photorealism is their signature. “We want the customer to feel like they can touch the texture.” The prints start as a photograph. Her new cable leggings, for example, are actually a photograph of a sweater. It’s the added “shadowing” that makes those prints so realistic. A subtle shadow of that print is added to create depth and texture. Her fabrics also have a distinct sheen that makes those patterns pop.
Zara Terez has 4 divisions: Kids (where the business originally took off), Womens, Swim, and Accessories. Terez is proud to say that everything is produced in NY, and their mill is in the US. “Our vision is radiating positivity and our slogan is ‘respect the style’. At our core we are about respect who you are as person or what other people are.”