Photoshop, Design, & Building Websites: A Conversation with Zayyar Win Thein
Our longtime friend and Newspread founder, Zayyar Win Thein recently linked up with us in New York City on his month-long U.S trip from New Zealand, so naturally, we met up to see what he has been up to. During his trip, we hit some of New York Cities main attractions for fashion-minded connoisseurs including the likes of Carbone, the MOMA, and some of the best retail stores in the entire world. In addition to exploring the vast entertainment that New York City has to offer, we sat down in this exclusive interview about the upcoming launch of his New Zealand based blog, Newspread. Previously, Newspread was just a monthly PDF magazine that was curated and distributed via instant download, but it now has transformed into a full-fledged blog that will translate fashion culture, design, and local business to New Zealand as well as Australia. With both countries being on an upward trajectory in the growth of fashion culture it only makes sense to have an outlet such as Newspread to relay information as well as share the projects developing in that side of the globe. But don't just take our word for it, be sure to check out the full interview below for more insight into the growing fashion community in the "land down under."
Hey, Zayyar first off I want to say welcome to New York, how has your stay been so far?
"It's been amazing. Awesome to finally explore the city and I’m sure I will be coming back often."
What has been your favorite part of New York?
"The culture and the people for sure. Everyone is super friendly here."
I know you weren't here just for sightseeing, any exciting meetings or collaborations you did while you were here, or things you have planned?
"I worked on the Arbitrage x Grailed 'Dolce & Gabanna' collection sale that released a few weeks ago which was great. I did indeed have some exciting meetings and hopefully, more will be revealed later in the future, there's also a ton of notes and feedback to bring back to New Zealand and Australia."
You have made some really good connections through social media while being so far away, what would you attribute to your ability to make worldwide connections?
"Being honest is the key component. Whether it’s a business relationship or personal relationship I feel you’re drawn to people with similar interests and they organically become both but it’s important to be real."
What were some of your favorite stores in New York?
"Patron of The New definitely topped the lot with the selection, in my opinion, KITH and Barney’s are right up there too. Other standouts were Chrome Hearts, Nepenthes, and Rick Owens."
What has been the most interesting thing about America that is different than New Zealand?
"There’s definitely a few but to keep it related to fashion the average consumer in America dresses better, they understand fit and layering. It could be attributed to how fast fashion brands are keeping their product offering relevant and current silhouettes where our outlets aren’t quite there yet."
Do you guys have similar designer brands or style in New Zealand? How would you describe it?
"There is some influence on both but the retail fashion industry in New Zealand isn't sustaining what the market is doing right now. With most high-end designers moving more “street” and streetwear brands going more "high end" sadly our industry may struggle to keep that alive. For instance, no one stocks Off-White, Palm Angels, Visvim or Alyx Studios which are all doing incredibly successful overseas, as well as this we don’t have flagships or boutiques from Balenciaga or Saint Laurent who again are seeing recent global success in the marketplace.
Because of this a lot of the consumers who are “in tune” to what’s happening right now choose to shop online overseas or buy via Grailed - the product offering isn’t there for someone who is so invested in the culture and is an early adopter. It’s very apparent that the consumer doesn’t want an “alternative” because with the way social media works there is no “alternative” and we’ll move mountains to get just that specific item or brand which is something retailers here are struggling to understand and keep up with.
I think we make do with what we have but there could be more risks taken in the industry to bring in those brands mentioned earlier. I personally struggle to find anything I want to buy here as well as the majority of my friends so we’re somewhat “forced” to buy online. It’s not all doom and gloom though there is Checks Downtown who are catering to a good crowd and are on top of what’s happening globally, and a few stores have picked up Yeezy Season, Stone Island, Our Legacy and Aime Leon Dore on their roster."
What are some of your favorite brands currently and why?
"I’ve been a long time fan of Saint Laurent, ever since I was old enough to flip through a magazine their brand identity has always resonated with me. As sad as it is to say what’s going on now I don’t really fuck with but I can’t deny the staples such as the Teddy Jacket, Wyatt’s or an L01. For me, Saint Laurent is a stamp of quality, thoughtful construction, and design paired with stunning visual identity and pieces that can stand out but also be everyday go-to's
Other brands I gravitate towards are Needles, Haider Ackermann, Rhude, Alyx Studios and Nike. For me, comfort and quality are key but also pieces that fit into my personal wardrobe."
From what you have told me, you will be turning Newspread from a monthly PDF magazine into a fully dedicated blog, what will be the main focus of it be?
Our main focus is to be purveyors of everything culture, fashion, and creativity in our part of the globe. I personally feel we don’t have a voice that really connects us with not just a local audience but internationally as well, we want to showcase what’s happening here to the world and introduce what’s happening elsewhere back home. Kids here should know about the best stores in NYC or that new season Raf Simons is available from someone like Roden Gray, it’s about providing our audience with relevant information. From the latest brand drops to exhibition openings, city guides and the like, our aim is to keep our readers informed while also being a beacon of the modern culture here."
The culture in New Zealand & Australia seems to be on an upward trajectory, what are some of the biggest stores and movements happening out your way?
"It definitely is, Off-White's global dominance is definitely felt especially in Australia with two flagship stores recently opening. Harrolds & Sneakerboy are certainly key players in the Australian market as well. While on the New Zealand side we have Good as Gold, Checks Downtown and Fabric really leading the pack with brand mix and content."
Besides for us, what other types of consulting have you been doing in addition to Newspread?
"I work closely with a wide range of clients (not just fashion) focussing on early business development, product activations, e-commerce and creative direction."
For the kids who might be reading this what's some advice you'd give them to work in the creative industry? What are some things that you've learned along the way?
"Develop a good work ethic early on - this is something I struggled to find starting out but focus on what matters on the project, manage your time and asking questions are vital in the industry. Trust your gut more times than most, be inclusive and most importantly be friendly to people, there are a ton of dicks in the creative and fashion industry so don’t be one, there’s already enough."
Lastly what advice would you give anyone who isn't in the main fashion cities and wants to be as inclusive as you have been?
"Utilise the internet, it is your best friend. Message people, e-mail people, call people you want to work with. I think you have to take as many chances as you can because we don’t have the access like some others do and you need to want it twice as much as they do. Learn skills and develop your personal brand as well as grow your local community and help that grow too."