Q&A With Designer Zana Bayne

Q&A With Designer Zana Bayne

In lieu of the upcoming fashion weeks (and my complete whirlwind romance regarding rsvp’s and blog neglect), I leave you with an interview I should have published over a year ago (interviews can be vintage finds too right?).  Zana Bayne, a budding and detail-obsessed leather crafting goddess had just shown the world her work through the mediums of major designer collaborations, and outfitting none other than Ms. Gaga herself.  She has since had her work featured in some of the world’s top alternative and luxury fashion publications, become a celebrity favourite (count Madonna, Ciara and Chloe Sevigny amongst her biggest fans), and continues to climb the fashion ladder.  The F514 team visited her in her Brooklyn studio for a quick Q&A…

F514: What led you to the path of being a leatherwork designer?

Zana Bayne: I never intended on designing actually, I went to art school.  I’ve always made things before, but I was working retail before this and making leather things in my spare time to make money here (New York), and it turned full time.

F514: Why did you start working with leather and harnesses?

ZB: I made one for myself, I thought it was great, people on my blog thought it was great, and I sold a couple.  Then I moved from Berlin, didn’t have my resources here, and just started making them to self-sustain/survive…

F514: You used to sell on Etsy right?

ZB: Yeah, I mean that was my first e-commerce platform, but I moved on to my own online store almost a year ago.  

F514: Was there anything that triggered the inspiration to start it all?

ZB: Just to survive in New York – that was the first incentive.  I’ve always liked making things, and this was a great starting point to work off of.

F514: So you’re into the bondage aesthetic?

ZB: Yeah, it’s accessories, but a risky type of accessory.  It’s fun to play around with.

F514: When did you decide it was time to go full time entrepreneur with your leather business?

ZB: I was working retail when it got to the point that the retail job was getting in the way of my leather business.  I kind of realized that I had to go all or nothing into having this business.

F514: You just recently did the accessories for the Prabal Gurung show.  How did that come about?

ZB: That was amazing, they contacted me and were very interested in what I was doing, and I thought it’d be a great platform for my work to be shown.  The whole thing was very exciting, and they’re a great team to work with.

F514: Did he give you carte blanche, or did you work together talking about what he wanted…

ZB: Well he certainly had ideas for different materials… he wanted to work with rope as an inspiration, and that maybe with the switch of material it would make it less harness – more belt.  We wanted to do something a little softer than just all leather, and a lot of his inspiration images were from photographs of girls in bondage.  The rope work was a real starting point.  

F514: You also did leatherwork for Lady Gaga, that must have been huge…

ZB: That’s always fun (because it’s large scale projects that I get to work on).  They just trust me with a lot of creative, and I really get to explore things with those pieces that I wouldn’t necessarily do in my own collection.  They asked if I could do a full body harness, so I said “yeah, why not”.

F514: Did you know it was going to be used in the video?

ZB: It’s like that for anything in this industry, it gets pulled for a project, sometimes it gets used, most of the time it doesn’t.  You don’t usually know… unless there’s someone on the inside sneaking you tidbits (which most professionals don’t do or know until the thing airs).

F514: How did you feel when you saw it in the video?

ZB: I don’t scream as a person, but I kinda got the closest I could come to that reaction.  I got a leaked image first from the girl who does Gaga Fashionland, and my heart started beating faster… Within the next hour there were more leaked images, and then the video leaked…

F514: You’re now frequently used in editorials, do you get a lot of calls as a result?

ZB: Emails.  I never know what’s going to pop.

F514: How do you think all of these opportunities have affected your business?  

ZB: There’s definitely an insane momentum.  I always tell people that every month is the craziest month of my life, and it will continue to be that way.  December was crazy, then January was nuts, after that February has been even more insane… everything fuels the next project as well.  It’s also gotten to the point where I can’t take every request too, there’s so much.

F514: What’s in store for you in the future?

ZB: I’m going to Paris for fashion week, that’s my vacation/break/brain clearing space where I can work on the new collection, maybe some more collaborations, different materials…

F514: Are you thinking evolving from leather to something else… say suede for example?

ZB: No, not suede, never (laughs).  Suede makes me feel sort of funny.

F514: Potentially rope, seeing as you recently used it?

ZB: Maybe, I mean there seems to be very positive feedback from that, so we shall see…

F514: Any collaborations coming up, or are they completely top secret?

ZB: There always kind of top secret, but there are collaborations coming up!

F514: In the future do you want to expand to other leather goods like bags?

ZB: I’d love to do clothing eventually, I just can’t right now.


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