ZCD was born from a world of car racing and fashion. Siblings Zoe and Zach Claman DeMelo started designing and brainstorming ZCD in 2013. They worked closely with factories in Europe until the collection launched in-stores in March 2016. Zach is a race car driver in the Indycar program. Zoe said whenever her family would go to the race track for events such as Formula 1 Grand Prix, there were lots of well-dressed celebs such as Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Serena Williams, and Hailey Baldwin. All of which had a great pair of sneakers on. “We wanted to take this designer look and transform it into our lifestyle. Day to night, racetrack to runway. The racing world has become very relevant today as Lewis Hamilton really bridged the gap from fashion to racing by gracing the cover of Vogue and working with L’Oreal,” Zoe explained. ZCD has been spotted on some of the most popular influencers in the industry including; Gigi Hadid, Margot Robbie, Bella Thorne, Coco Rocha, Devon Windsor, Elsa Hosk, Sistine Stallone, and more.
ZCD was originally a company called SeCe Distribution and made its debut into the wholesale business over 15 years ago. Today ZCD has a team of ten and are the exclusive Canadian distributor of high-end fashion brands for men, women and children. This includes; 7 For All Mankind, IRO, Koral Zoe Karssen, Splendid, Rebecca Taylor, Vilebrequin, Vince, and UGG. “As a child I would spend most of my time in the offices of SeCe always asking to help and always ready to learn. It was very natural and easy transition for me to come straight to work and start a business of our own [ZCD],” Zoe added.
After testing the local markets in Canada, the duo branched out into the USA and Europe. Zoe believes that Montreal is very European in feeling and this is what enabled her to naturally transition to spend her time in Europe and the UK brainstorming streetwear and other trends.
The first design they made was the classic skate sneaker, because sneakers took the fashion world by storm. “We wanted to start our collection off with a basic skate sneaker. From there we elaborated by creating different styles that pushed the boundaries in the sneaker world,” Zoe explained.
ZCD have launched a mission of remaining exclusive and hard to find. However, the world is a big place and there are many stores for ZCD to grow in while maintaining the exclusivity similar to a brand like Vetements. Zoe said there is always room for growth with their stockists. They are currently working on a men’s collection for Spring/Summer 2018. “Men’s has been a huge demand so after carefully planning, we will be launching it for Spring/Summer 2018. Men’s is such a natural transition for us as we know many key influencers in that market. Within the next few years, we will be developing and growing different commodities and moving with the trend,” they said. Children’s footwear will hopefully follow suit in a few more seasons.
Keen to grow slowly, the sibling duo never want to compromise their quality which is 100 percent made in Italy. Zach and Zoe chose Italy for ZCD’s manufacturing because of its strong reputation in luxurious footwear. The ZCD customer goes anywhere from a mother to her daughter. Someone who is on trend and understands that luxury designer lifestyle. Zoe said it is important to state what makes them different, that they are a full sneaker-only brand. “Unlike other brands, we don’t dabble in boots, sandals and so on. We are strictly sneakers,” she added.
The design process starts with Zoe and her mother Catherine researching the fashion world and what is relevant at the moment. Part of maintaining their ZCD DNA is to be at the forefront of fashion. “We then try and tie it into the world of racing. After that we go to Italy and London and other parts of Europe for different parts of inspiration. We then chose our fabrics for each shoe and style and go forward with producing the sample line,” Zoe said.
The best way to communicate with their customers is through social media channels such as Instagram, Facebook and bloggers. They have been receiving a lot of hype from a number of celebrities wearing ZCD which has drawn a huge following to the brand. A key style in their collection is the Senna in White. “It is our claim to fame thanks to supermodel Gigi Hadid who was spotted in them multiple times,” Zoe said. The Senna style was launched on day one and is loved for its simplicity as a clean every day shoe. It is one of three permanent styles that ZCD have had since day one. The other two being Nico in python and Nico in gold. ZCD produce two collections a year for Spring and Fall, but sometimes they throw in a special capsule collection of what’s trending. A standard collection has 15 skews; five styles and three skews per style. The Fall 2017 collection features minks, snakes, suedes, and other new styles.
Partnering with the right stockists is very important to them as it is a key way to showcase their brand. Their US exclusive department store Barneys New York showcased ZCD in a feature on The Window promoting the brand. They believe it’s important to have both a physical store and online. “Customers appreciate walking into a store. They like to feel the product and try it on, especially in the footwear commodity. Once you gain that loyal following, e-commerce is just a natural transition as it has taken the world by storm.”
Both Zach and Zoe advise young designers to stay true to who you are and that it is crucial to be different in today’s market. “E-commerce has made businesses very transparent and consumers are very educated and can find anything anywhere. I think it’s important to tap into a market that has a gap and fill that gap,” said Zoe.
Their biggest challenge so far is to continue to remain different and unique. Moving forward, Asia is ZCD’s next big target.