Home / Bright Young Things (11): Zinke’s Sister Act is Bound for the Big Leagues
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If you’ve ever worked with a sibling (as I have), you’ll know what a tremendous competitive advantage it can give you. Nothing quite equals the kind of intuitive rapport and likemindedness shared by people who run a family business.

Which might explain the rapid success of boutique lingerie label Zinke, which is poised for a breakout year in 2011, both at home and overseas as well. Sorry girls, but Zinke’s days as a hidden gem and everybody’s little fashion secret are coming to an end!

Label: Zinke
Designer: Jessie Zinke (l), 27
Arin Robinson (r), 29
Launch: 2009
Based: New York City

Zinke, which debuted the first of its four collections in 2009, is the creative brainchild of sisters Jessie Zinke and Arin Robinson, who grew up in Tulsa and then went their own ways — temporarily.

Elder sister Arin stayed in Oklahoma and, with an eye for design and a taste for business, established a successful event planning company in 2004 that specialized in weddings. Jessie, the fashionista of the family, headed for L.A. and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising before apprenticing with celebrity style agency Film Fashion.

But the girls had always dreamed of running a fashion label together and, in 2009, began planning in earnest. First came Goodnight Lovely, a small collection of loungewear pieces and bridal accessories that was a natural offshoot of Arin’s wedding business.

By 2010, though, Zinke was in full flight, launching three acclaimed lingerie collections including the new SS2011 line called Collins Avenue (photos below), with Jessie handling design duties from New York and Arin managing the business from home base in Tulsa.

The label gained immediate attention for its zesty, not-quite-neon color schemes and a range of very playful mix-and-match lingerie items. Their girlish jumpers and rompers appealed to the flirty romantic, while the bright bra-panty ensembles seemed to fit in anywhere — they wouldn’t look out of place at poolside, or at the gym, or peeking out from under sheer tops on sunny days.

Each collection has been well-planned to create a consistent look and theme. Last spring’s popsicle-colored Electric Girl range was pure fun, while the fall collection Love Letters was shimmering, darkly erotic and, oddly, inspired by Edgar Allen Poe!

The Collins Avenue line is the duo’s most ambitious to date, with more than two dozen pieces inspired by the Art Deco architecture of Miami beachside hotels, whose names are used for the various style ranges in the collection. Even the pastel color palette is pure Miami: look for pieces in a breezy flamingo pink, a bleachy sanddollar, a bright charmeuse, or a faint baby blue appropriately named pool.

Zinke’s eye for hip colorways and its unerring knack for picking fashion-forward styles that exude luxury without being ostentatious has attracted attention not just from consumers, but major industry players as well. Now, Zinke appears bound for the big leagues of retail fashion. The label has recently agreed to produce an exclusive collection of luxury intimates for a major retailer — no details yet, but the launch is slated for June and Zinke is calling it “a match made in heaven.” Stay tuned!

Next up will be a fall collection called Souvenir, inspired by impressions from a cross-country road trip with friends. The first image below is an early look at the storyboard for the Souvenir collection.

As the sisters tell us in the Bright Young Things questionnaire below, Zinke is “growing on every level”. Good for them!

Q&A with Jessie Zinke and Arin Robinson — Zinke

How long have you been in business?
Zinke spun off of another company, Zinke Design, in 2010. Formerly, we were designing wedding accessories. Then we decided to become partners, creating Zinke. We streamlined our business plan and launched the Zinke label. In 2010, we introduced 4 collections into the market. We’ve been thrilled with the response.

How many people are employed by your label?
There are four of us in-house and lots of support from independent businesses in the garment district.

What plans do you have for new products/collections in 2011?
Our spring 2011 collection, Collins Avenue, has attracted the most excitement to date. It hits stores early next month. Highlights of the collection are the acid pastels and the Seneca print, our first Zinke-designed print. We’ve already had to put several styles back into production to meet demand.

We’ve just put the final touches on fall 2011 and are really excited to show the collection at CurveExpo next month. The idea behind the collection is a cross-country road trip with friends. Sights along the way influence the palette: expansive fields of gold, sunsets stretching across the sky and finally the bright lights of the city, which is the final destination. The collection is called Souvenir.

How do you hope/plan to grow your business in 2011?
We’re growing on every level: collection size, production capacity, number of stockists, brand awareness & sales. 2011 goal: Pursue international sales.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in launching your label?
Growing pains are bittersweet. But we can’t complain.

What is your most popular design or product?
Our halter rompers have been a bestseller season to season. We’ve varied material and color or pattern, but the style has stayed the same each time. They’ve included the Boho After Party Halter, Tea Party Halter in floral & violet, Once Upon a Midnight hammered silk halter in amethyst and the Seneca halter.

This spring there have been several styles that have been run-away successes, namely the Leslie bralet and panty set, which is silk with a mesh overlay. The chartreuse colorway has been our most-requested. The almost-absinthe shade is very, very popular for spring.

Business-wise, what are you most proud of?
Mingling creative inspirations into a viable business.

How will you define success for yourself?

We love what we do and we’ve been able to grow our business slowly and thoughtfully. Because we’ve stayed small, we can personally attend to every aspect of the business. We know our manufacturers – all based in New York – and are regularly in touch with our retail accounts. And we prefer it that way.

Anything else people should know about you?
As little girls we always dreamed, hoped and planned we would work together. And we made it happen! It’s funny, how working together makes you stronger, better.

Selections from Zinke’s SS2011 ‘Collins Avenue’ Collection
Posted in Lingerie Designers

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