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The reality that the pandemic has had a significant impact on the fashion industry cannot be avoided. What especially happens to the emerging evening wear brands that have laid a foundation for attracting women to red carpets, weddings and all the different galas and events that we miss so much these days? Inclusive womenswear brand Coyan is celebrating its one year anniversary tomorrow, and this first year its silky, minimalist dresses have drawn the bodies of influencers and actresses like Natasha Rothwell from Insecure and Chrissy Metz from This Is Us.
Lucas Zunz, Coyan's founder and CEO, may have just celebrated the sale of his first wedding dress (and then made a matching face mask), but as the pandemic worsened he had to expect the market to build his brand for quite a bit disappear for a long time. Pivoting, of course, is the route many have to take in its position, but don't think for a second that Coyan is leaving behind its signature silks.
"We are developing a new collection that will be released in October. It will be a little more casual and focus even more on comfort in order to adapt to the new normal," says Zunz. "Nowadays there is a lot of emphasis on how well the sports market is doing and how everyone just wants to buy comfortable clothes right now, but I believe women still want to feel their best during WFH. It can actually be more comfortable in a silk Kaftan as sweatpants! "
WFH silk is a concept I can support, but that's not all for Coyan. Zunz is also working to advance the brand on its slow and sustained mission.
"Our main priority for the future is sustainability," says Zunz. "(We're) becoming a made-to-order company to avoid any waste and use only environmentally friendly fabrics. Our next collection will include recycled cashmere and organic silk, all made in the US. We want to help make that happen Changing consumer attitudes from overconsumption and fast fashion to investing in timeless, well-made pieces that will last forever. "
For a company that focuses on creating pieces for women of all sizes, this mission looks even more promising. For too long there has been a lack of clothing, including size, that is well made, fashionable and sustainable. Read on to learn more about Zunz and to shop for his favorite Coyan items.
Tell us about yourself and your company.
My name is Lucas Zunz and I am Creative Director in New York. I was born and raised in Paris, but have lived in the United States for six years. That's where I started my career in fashion. After working as the head of e-commerce for a womenswear label for a few years, I began consulting with a DTC brand to help them create high quality, relatable content and online experiences. I used this experience and market knowledge to bring Coyan to market.
Coyan is a high-end womenswear label aiming to redefine the way we shop for luxury clothing with a slower and more comprehensive model. We create clothing from exceptional fabrics with impeccable details for women of all sizes, from US 0 to 24.
What if you had to sum up your business in five or so words?
Slowly. Included. Luxury. Effortless. Timeless.
What inspired you to start your company?
The idea first came when I was running Sachin & Babis e-commerce. We saw quite a few requests for sizes 16 and 18 which we weren't wearing at the time. It was my responsibility to introduce a plus size category and see if this was an actual opportunity for us. During this process, I witnessed women's frustration and the incredible lack of options in the expanded size market. Luxury offerings were almost non-existent, and when it came to mass market options, everything was synthetic and was quite dated in terms of aesthetics. I just couldn't find anything modern and well-made that would go with the kind of fashion I saw out there. So the concept was born with an emphasis on inclusivity and representation being the Coyan ethos.
What was your proudest moment as a business owner?
We have a customer who is getting married in a coyan dress! It's happening next month so I can't say much about it, but it was so exciting when a woman asked about one of our dresses for her big day. We had only existed for a few months when it happened and I was so proud that someone would consider us for their wedding. She recently came back to us to get a matching silk mask for the ceremony.
How have social distancing and home assignments affected your business? How have your priorities shifted?
The order at home in March made us very vulnerable. In terms of cash flow, we were already quite tense and could see that online orders were going to decline, at least for now. We downsized, left our common work area and warehouse and moved everything to our homes. We had to accept this as the new normal and work with almost nothing (while applying for loans, etc.) until it got better. We were in a bad mood, but that was the next level.
Business took a few weeks off. We're totally event driven, and any summer weddings that are postponed have definitely affected us, among other things. We also decided not to go on sale as it goes against our corporate culture. As a result, it was difficult to compete at all the haircuts during the pandemic.
The silver lining has forced us to be creative and think about new ways to reinvent ourselves. We worked with friends and family to get new content during the lockdown by shipping dresses around the globe and doing homemade photo shoots. We moved our production from LA to New York to avoid travel and had to find new partners, which was very exciting in a way – like starting all over again.
We focused on making face masks which worked very well. They were sold out and we just did more. They are made from scraps of fabric from our first collection, which was the most sustainable and cost-effective option for us.
Let's put a little love in the spotlight on other brands. Which two or three of your favorite brands do you like to support and why?
Henning: Lauren also makes high-end plus-size clothing, with an emphasis on workwear and tailoring. We started almost at the same time and share a similar ethos. One of the few brands that offer real luxury items in expanded sizes.
I buy a lot of vintage and loved going back to my favorite thrift store called Front General Store in Dumbo, Brooklyn. They are a New York institution and curate a mix of vintage and their own brand.
I discovered Marrakshi Life in the summer and love it. They are a slow fashion label like us. Everything in Marrakech is gender neutral and handmade. Their loose shapes make me want to make some coyan unisex pieces which will happen eventually.
"They're made from silk and pima cotton, sourced from scraps of fabric from last season. Using natural materials like this is the best way to avoid waste! They're really bold and colorful."
"It's my personal favorite. The most timeless and versatile dress we've made. It's also our best-seller. It can be very elegant, but my friends wear it with a pair of trainers or even biker boots and it looks so cool."
"The dua is our best-selling form, and this tangerine hue will brighten your day the moment you put it on. Perfect for that year-round vacation feeling."
"This is our most dramatic caftan. We used so much fabric for the skirt that it is very flowing that you are guaranteed to make an entrance. It's a humble piece that can be more daring if you open the two side slits. I." I think it's perfect these days when you are hosting intimate events at home and want to look fabulous yet comfortable. (You can be barefoot with it, no one will notice.) "
"It's our most minimalist style. It's actually reversible. We made it to have the V-shaped back, but a lot of customers loved turning it over and wearing it both ways! The stunning gray / blush color works with all skin tones. ""
"Our customers love to buy clothes that go with their Coyan dresses or to have fun with color-blocking."
"Our oversized silk scarf can be used in so many ways: as a strapless top, in your hair, as a mask, or around your neck. Endless possibilities."
Next: fashion girls are all over these stunning face masks and I can see why.