13 Jul 2021
Zayan, an Arabic word which translates to “beautifier” or “something beautiful”, is a rather fitting name for a sustainable fashion brand that emphasises maintaining and bringing out the natural “beauty” in the world. Tanakorn “Tao'' Binzayan, founder and creative director of Zayan, has lent part of his surname and all of his dedication since the birth of Zayan in 2017. When it comes to reconstructing things out of natural and unconventional materials, Tao is no stranger to the task. Growing up away from the urban area, in Chanthaburi province, he was constantly surrounded by items made from repurposed waste and natural materials. This closeness to nature and sustainability was absorbed until it became part of his identity.
So It comes as to no surprise that the brand Tao would eventually establish would be a blend of contemporary fashion and a set intention to reduce waste from the fashion industry. Dedicated to making the brand his own, apart from designing, Tao is involved in almost every step of the production, from garment construction to overseeing the brand’s marketing. We talk to Tao to learn more about the brand's ethos and future plans for Zayan.
How did Zayan begin and what are its goals?
I love fashion and I am fascinated by nature, so nature is a big inspiration for me. At the time, I wanted to have a job that I love so I decided to establish a clothing brand. However, I also wanted a job that contributed to sustaining the earth for the next generation. Combining both of these goals, we created a fashion brand that wants to be a (tiny) part that helps reduce waste from the fashion industry. It’s challenge for my designing skills, utilising recycled and deadstock materials and repurposing them into something beautiful and durable. I want to prove that recycled materials can have great design as well. If the customer is uninterested in environmental issues, at least they will pay attention to our strong design. In a way, we can still indirectly convince them to save the environment.
Zayan is a brand with natural aesthetic. If you have to compare Zayan to a place, where would it be?
I feel like our brand represents the beauty of Thailand’s land and ocean. I wanted to bring out our natural environment and present its beauty from the point of view of the locals to the fashion industry.
Could you briefly walk us through the production process?
We are a small team with a limited budget, so we place importance on planning and researching for the design. We usually have a meeting much prior to the production period to discuss the inspiration behind each campaign. This is so that we are clear on what we are trying to communicate, what materials will be used, how it can help with environmental issues, and how it will fulfil our customer’s desire. We have to be very detailed and meticulous to reduce the problems during the production period. If we have planned the pre-production process well, we usually won’t run into problems during the manufacturing and the promotional period.
What's the inspiration behind the latest "Summer Rainbow" shirt?
As the creative director of the brand who's also part of the LGBTQ+ community, I want our brand to be part of the voices that celebrate gender and sexual expression during pride month, while also reflecting on the individuals who have fought and are fighting for our equal rights. “The Spectrum of Nature” is the title of our pride month campaign. This year, my team and I have created a special filter to depict the natural beauty of a rainbow reflected on the beach and sea. For this campaign, we have designed an oversized shirt that reflects the beauty of the “rainbow” in a vintage style. We were inspired by the first pride flag created by Gilbert Baker in the 1970s and utilised colourful materials from used fabrics to reduce the production of textile. Our team constructs the shirts one by one, creating unique colours for each panel. The production takes two to three weeks, beginning with gathering colourful, vintage fabrics and cleaning them with a special solution. After that, we use hand sewing techniques along with machines to create a durable and beautiful work of art. Every piece will not be the same as to represent the diversity of each individual.
Is there anything you look forward to exploring or developing in future collections?
We would like to develop our brand to the next level. I've met people who share similar visions and have potential in becoming a co-creative director to drive Zayan to be that brand that helps reduce the waste in the fashion industry while also being contemporary and having an interesting story behind each and every design.
What change would you like to see in Thailand's fashion industry?
I want people in the fashion industry to be more aware of the problems the industry has created so that they can reduce these issues in the future. For example, the issue with material waste from fast fashion; pollution; animal cruelty and exploitative labour.