By  on October 25, 2011

NEW YORK — After 15 years of modeling for American and European designers, Heather Payne is using what she gleaned from those jobs for a label of her own.

During an interview Tuesday at Jaya Apparel Group, which owns the brand with Payne, the company’s namesake discussed how she turned a hunch into a business. Payne said she first considered starting her own label after strangers routinely stopped her to ask about her slightly edgy style. A more concrete idea surfaced while working out at the gym. There she often wouldn’t notice acquaintances from the fashion world in their nondescript tanks and shorts. “I wouldn’t recognize them until they had put their Alexander McQueen or Prada back on,” she said. “I thought, ‘Why not create something to wear at the gym that is still fashionable in a smarter way?’”

Not interested in going to design school, Payne decided to put pen to paper to develop a branding concept and a few sketches. In January, she joined forces with Jaya and this fall the active-inspired Payne collection made its debut in stores such as Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. Payne is now making the rounds meeting shoppers and giving salespeople information about what sets her line apart.

Along with moisture-wicking leggings with ruching at the ankles, sports bras with grommets and running shorts with leather trim, there are a washable leather T-shirt, superhero-inspired hooded jackets and zipper-detailed miniskirts designed to be worn over leggings.

The body-conscious clothes are matte looking to avoid the sheen that often signals workout wear.

The line could do $9 million at wholesale in the first year, according to Jane Siskin, president and chief executive officer of Jaya.

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