- your name, name of your store, year opened
Tanya Zilinskas, Maneater Threads, website launched in November of 2005.
-tell us a bit about your shop and what was your inspiration to open
It was a pretty short trip from thinking I could launch a store to actually launching it. I think really the biggest inspiration for opening the store were the clothes themselves – all along I was compiling this mental list of designers whose pieces I found to be amazing who weren’t necessarily carried at a lot of stores. I remember very distinctly one day, while I was still working at a nonprofit in L.A., when the idea of a store with the name Maneater Threads and a shark logo came into my head, and it dawned on me that there was no reason that I couldn’t or shouldn’t open my own web store. People always ask, “so when is the brick and mortar coming?” but that really has no appeal to me. I love the idea of the wide reach of the internet combined with designers that are perhaps not so well known, or simply unavailable in someone’s geographical area.
-what item is currently on your covet list? What item could you not resist buying for yourself?
I’ve been putting together the store’s spring lookbook, so I have been drooling over all the stuff that’s coming in over the next few months: an asymmetrical Ziji dress, a Stella & Jamie jumpsuit that I’m intending to starve myself into, these adorable Vanitas’ shorts, pretty much all of Webster and Les Prairies de Paris’ items. A couple of the things I got for myself for fall were Les Prairies de Paris’ Raphael Coat and Geren Ford’s Sailor Cocktail Dress, both of which are classic enough to last me forever. Most recently I stole one of Made Her Think’s Zodiac necklaces for myself. They are so fun, and at $75, I didn’t feel too guilty about it. Meredith of Made Her Think is definitely designing my favorite jewelry pieces right now, and I do have to resist not pocketing her\nother pieces that we carry.
-who is your personal "it" designer right now?
Oh, tough question. I notice that I end up wearing a lot of Burning Torch –it’s just immaculately constructed, really easy to wear on a daily basis, and the recycled cashmere pieces are perfect for chilly San Francisco days. I love the outright glamour of Rami Kashou’s pieces, and the wearability of Kara Janx’s. Candice Held makes these perfectly gorgeous beach-y pieces, and I love that she’s been with me basically since day 1. I am getting a fair amount of new lines in for spring that I am really excited about as well: Lundgren & Windinge, Laila Azhar, Fluet, and Stella & Jamie,just to name a few.
-what is your advice for designers who want to be carried in your store?
More than anything, it really depends on the lines themselves – how they appeal to me as a buyer, and how they fit in with the store. However, there are certain basic ways that you can introduce yourself as a designer to a potential buyer that are better than others. First and foremost, make sure that your line is appropriate, or rather, in keeping with the general idea of the store that you are contacting. For example, I once got an e-mail from a designer who wrote me saying that her line of racing-inspired women’s clothing would fill in the gap of racing clothes on my site. Of course, for me, there is and never has been any such gap. Yikes! Bearing in mind that a first impression might be the only one, it’s important to create a brief but compelling presentation of your work…it can be an entire lookbook, or just a few jpegs of your items and a description of your line. It’s also good to keep in mind that if you don’t get an immediate response, it’s not necessarily due to a lack of interest. Buyers, particular buyers who are also store owners, are pretty much inundated with e-mails on any given day. Following up periodically, or checking in with a buyer for a new season, is never a bad idea, within reason, of course. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of being in the right time at the right place, and even if it’s not the right fit for that particular store, it doesn’t mean that the buyer doesn’t like or appreciate your work. Getting your name out there is never a bad idea.
-what is the biggest trend that is currently impacting your buying decisions?
I don’t know that I really dictate my buying according to one trend or another. I want people to be able to wear pieces from my store for years to come, and I think that boils down more to style than trendiness. Naturally, there are trends that emerge each season that you can see predominantly in many lines,for example, bright patterns for spring 2007. Ultimately, I’m more interested in picking up items that are classic with a twist, and I love small details: an asymmetrical neckline, contrast stitching, oversized buttons, an unexpected use of color. I do think inspiration can come from anywhere:seeing a well put together outfit on the street, patterns in nature, an interesting work of art, and that in turn influences future purchases. Of course,there always ends up being some frivolous piece that’s simply too fun to resist, but isn’t that what’s great about fashion? It can be wearable art, a witty statement, strictly utilitarian, or just a silly little whim.
tanya, owner/buyer Maneater Threads