The Zachary phenomenon

Greek Australian Effie Kats' label takes the fashion world by surprise

Fresh-faced Australian fashion label Zachary has been dubbed the answer to the modern woman’s wardrobe woes. At the brand’s store located in the heart of Chapel Street, a quote that resonates with the brand is plastered across the wall in bright neon lights.

“Behind every great woman
is herself.”

‘Behind every great woman is herself.’

Zachary began with designer Effie Katsaounis’ vision of offering first of all herself and then other women affordable and timeless feminine pieces that can be worn for years to come. At only 25, founder and creative director Effie tapped Melbourne’s highest-skilled technicians to construct her collections and provide a high-end aesthetic at a reasonable price. She started designing and making dresses out of her dad’s store back in 2013 when she discovered there was a distinct gap in the fashion market – “a lack of high-end aesthetic attires at affordable prices”.

“I wanted to buy a glamorous and sexy but not kitsch dress, a feminine suit … a body-conscious skirt that would flatter my figure without being overly tight without paying a fortune,” says Effie Kats, former photographer and public relations executive, but that didn’t work for her either.

“I explained my idea to my dad who had a tailoring business and he very kindly helped me to start off my business.”

As luck would have it, when she first put her final designs on a rack in the window, a pattern designer walked in, offering the young amateur designer some very valuable advice. The two have been working together on Zachary’s common vision ever since. In the beginning Effie was selling their designs from her personal Instagram account. However, after a year of hard and steady work the brand started to build an audience. From Effie’s selfies in front of her father’s mirror, the label’s sassy posts have celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Antoinette Marie (a.k.a. Sydney Fashion Blogger) setting the bar higher.

“Our reputation sky-rocketed after I saw Sydney Fashion Blogger in Topshop during one of my trips there,” Effie says, admitting she followed the also Greek Australian celebrity until she could start a conversation.

“I told her about the label, my vision and our high-quality standards and she eventually left holding one of our designs, with plans to wear it for her upcoming birthday bash.”

Antoinette Marie’s birthday came along, and unfortunately it seemed she hadn’t fallen for Zachary The Label. “Everything happens for a reason,” Effie says, musing this gave her time to work harder.

“I hadn’t even established an identity at that stage and our Instagram page was just picking up. It wasn’t until six months later, on the following New Year’s Eve that my phone went on fire.”

Her friends had started texting her with screen shots taken from @sydneyfashionblogger’s Instagram account asking her if she was wearing a Zachary dress. Antoinette had saved this outfit for the most exciting night of the year.

“That worked perfectly for us. People started tagging and sharing, linking it back to us, creating an influx of 3,000 followers at once. Everything has gone mental since.”

Her label’s clear aesthetic and lifestyle representation has put it on top of the fashion marketing game in a little over two years. At nearly 140,000 followers, Zachary’s social presence has come a long way. The designer believes, however, that – apart from involving a lot of hard work, good ideas and quality as well as affordable prices – part of her success is also due to fate.

“If that pattern designer hadn’t walked in, if I didn’t bump into Sydney Fashion Blogger on the street, who knows what would have happened.”

The most interesting and challenging part for Effie has been getting the label off the ground. She was watching herself build something literally from nothing and each day a tiny piece of the puzzle would come together.

“There were so many times I thought I should just give up but every single time I felt it wasn’t working I pushed through it,” she tells Neos Kosmos.

Effie has recently enrolled in a pattern-making course to further her technical knowledge and develop as a designer. She is always after introducing new fabrics and expanding to thicker, more structured fabrics.

“There are so many facets of this journey on a daily basis,” she continues. ” But I’m such a control freak that I have to stay in charge of everything.

“I want to be involved in every process because if I’m not controlling every aspect of it it’s not going to turn out the way I want it to.”

Effie was predominantly raised by her multi-tasking and assertive yiayia, as both her parents were working full-time. She speaks Greek fluently and wishes to stay connected with her Greek heritage, which she wants to pass on.

“I draw much inspiration from ancient Greek designs and Olympian goddesses. Some of our bestsellers feature that draping technique and styles from that era that perfectly accentuate the female figure.”

Zachary’s newest collection ranges from $50 to $300, with dresses, tops, skirts, pants and gowns providing effortless glamour with a flattering fit, while each garment is hand-crafted by expert Australian machinists using only the finest fabrics. Effie tries to take into consideration not only different budgets, but all shapes and sizes, making her brand’s tight-fitting style wearable for curvier girls.

“In essence, Zachary was created to be worn by elegant, quality-conscious women who refuse to blend in with the crowd, whether these women are skinny, curvy or even pregnant.

“We have invested in the right fabrics and techniques to cover as many women’s needs as possible,” she says, taking pride in her success.

The label has attracted the attention of local and international media publications, bloggers and celebrities. The young fashion entrepreneur aspires to continue the Zachary legacy into the future, extensively broadening her market, whilst providing international accessibility.

“The unveiling of our website which enables online shopping has helped us develop further, increasing brand awareness in European markets and especially the US, our next venture,” she reveals.

“We are looking at our third location already and my goal is to be in every major shopping centre within the next five years.”

For more information visit www.zacharythelabel.com and check @zacharythelabel on Instagram.