Jill Zarin, one of the outspoken characters on “The Real Housewives of New York City,” walks into a showroom with entourage in tow and her chihuahua, Ginger.
Zarin, a self-confessed self-promoter, is on hand to discuss her newest project, a line of shapewear called Skweez Couture by Jill Zarin. The collection, unlike her TV competitor Bethenny Frankel’s shapewear venture, is aimed at better department and specialty stores as well as high-end boutiques and e-commerce businesses. Skweez shapers will be launched Oct. 1 at Lord & Taylor. The line is being produced under license by Triad Hosiery Corp.
“I’ll be doing my first appearance at the Lord & Taylor flagship and another appearance at Von Maur in Atlanta in November. We’re working with macys.com and Macy’s stores and we are in talks with Dillard’s,” said Zarin.
Skweez Couture will also be sold on HSN in February, said Zarin, but she would not give details.
The collection is projected to generate wholesale sales of $20 million in 2012, she said.
Meanwhile, Zarin nestles Ginger in her lap while describing her shapewear designs, which include 25 seamless and cut-and-sew pieces. Styles include high-waisted briefs and leggings, control slips, and tights and tanks that offer control levels of Tight, Tighter and Tightest.
Suddenly, the presentation came to a halt. “She’s going to bite,” warned Zarin as the chihuahua lunged forward with a growl.
“She’s not guarding me. She’s guarding her bitch,” Zarin said jokingly.
She quickly shifts back to the aesthetics of the line, which will retail from $20 to $85 in three groups — Platinum, Skweez Couture and Skweezwear.
“The styles are luxurious yet fashionable. My own personal taste and experience helped to create products that would help women feel more comfortable, confident, stylish and sexy. The overall look of the collection is retro glam,” explained Zarin.
Colors will include nude, blush, black, tan latte and cocoa. Sizes will range from S to 3XL.
While Zarin may be a reality show celebrity, she is no stranger to the world of fashion. A former buyer at Filene’s Basement and later a sales manager for men’s brands including John Henry and Perry Ellis dress shirts at Manhattan Industries, she moved into the wholesale hosiery and sock arena in the Nineties at companies such as E.G. Smith and Great American Knitting Mills, where she received her shapewear expertise. In 1999, she joined her husband Bobby Zarin, owner of Zarin Fabric Warehouse — an institution on New York’s Lower East Side — as a marketing consultant.
When asked to play a Manhattan housewife in “The Real Housewives of New York City,” Zarin said she saw it as a great opportunity to expand the Zarin franchise into her own line of products. She wrote a book titled “Secrets of a Jewish Mother” and designed her first Jill Zarin Home bedding line.
“After designing my own shapewear line and literally trying on hundreds of different samples over the past 12 months, I am proud to launch Skweez Couture by Jill Zarin. I designed this line for women like my daughter, my mother and myself, who want to wear shapewear made from the best luxury materials,” said Zarin.
She added that the shapewear is aimed at women ages 25 to 65, but also at the demographic of “The Real Housewives of New York City” in the 30-to-55 age range. Additional products such as accessories, fragrance and skin care are expected to become part of the franchise, said Zarin.