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When Zara Terez Tisch launched her namesake brand Terez in 2008, right before the recession, her main goal was to find her light in a sea of darkness. The New York City-based brand, which initially sold leather handbags, quickly grew from operating out of her parents’ basement to selling through wholesale partners.
In 2012, Terez expanded into apparel and updated its mission to center on spreading happiness and positivity through clothes. While a kids’ line marked the move into the new category, the overwhelming demand for the hero product led to Terez launching colorful leggings for women. That’s now the brand’s most popular category, according to Terez Tisch. But it’s seeing competition.
“I am a big kid at heart, and … kids are a huge part of our brand’s DNA,” Terez Tisch said on the latest episode of The Glossy Podcast. “Since launched our first store this past fall, our kids’ business has been rising once again.”
The flagship location, which opened in NYC’s Upper East Side in September 2022, is a physical manifestation of all the best parts of the brand, she said, citing its bright decor and welcoming energy.
Below are additional highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.
The evolution of activewear
“What the pandemic did, from a wholesale perspective, is it changed the trajectory of the activewear industry altogether. We didn’t come into Terez or create leggings and bras because we felt and wanted to be part of activewear. We happened to be at the right place at the right time, and we wore what made us happy. [Our product] wicked away sweat, it was comfortable, it was cool, and it was different than anything that was out there [in the market]. In 2021, our buyers from the department stores started to [place orders based on] what was selling online in 2020, which was not the best way to do it; 2020 was an anomaly for activewear and athleisure. What this has done is create a trickle-down effect for activewear, where department stores now are closing their activewear departments, decreasing their buys and truly hurting the people who built [activewear] in the beginning. … Activewear has almost become a dirty word, because buyers don’t need activewear. Everyone’s bought activewear already. They say, ‘We don’t sell activewear anymore.’ Whereas, when I started with ready-to-wear 10 years ago, I had the opposite problem. People didn’t know where to put activewear. But then Bloomingdale’s called me and said, ‘We want to launch our activewear department with you.’ Then Saks and Neiman Marcus [also reached out]. I am now experiencing the same challenge, but different.”
On choosing a store location
“I always knew the power of our children’s collection. It has always had this differentiation from anything else that’s out there. … So when we opened our store, I intentionally wanted it to be on the Upper East Side. I don’t live in the Upper East Side — I live downtown. But I wanted to be in a neighborhood where we could go and sell to affluent families and to the moms and their children. We intentionally chose Lexington Avenue over Madison Avenue. The stores on Lexington remind me of the strip malls I grew up going to on Long Island and in Westchester. They’re pillars of the community and places you remember going to for the rest of your life. I thought that, if we could go there and own that area and become one with the community and support the community, then we could be successful.”