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Electric Feathers designer Leana Zuniga's new South Williamsburg boutique, Electric Nest, may be gleaming white and clean-lined (its interior follows the ratio of the golden rectangle—more on that later), but it's definitely not a look-don't-touch kind of place.
"I work with a lot of dancers and singers," Zuniga told us. "And they feel totally comfortable rolling around on the rug, and making sure they can perform in the clothing. There's a lot of interaction."
It makes sense that Electric Feathers has such a following amongst performers, since the pieces are designed to move. And the silky jumpsuits, metallic halter dresses, and sunset-hued caftans currently on the racks can be draped, belted, and customized endless ways.
Also appealing: the "little treasures" that complement the boutique's wares. Zuniga sources everything from vintage Kansai Yamamoto tunics to weighty brass cuffs (the perfect foil to her breezy designs) on her frequent travels, and rounds out the store's gift-y options with hand-painted pillows, organic chocolates, and so-cute-you-can't-bear-to-burn them monster candles by designer pal Keetja Allard.
Being there makes us feel like we should be holding a ticket to Marrakesh in one hand, and a glass of Rosé in the other. Which is a great feeling, by the way.
Tell us about the space! How long have you been here?
We just opened on January 2nd. The shop is a golden rectangle, we followed divine proportions. The sculpture hanging overhead, and the racks—they're all golden rectangles.
What's the significance of the golden rectangle?
The Chinese and the Japanese use these measurements, divine proportion, to create harmony. It's designed after leaves and shells and things found in nature that we're drawn to that are harmonious. We wanted this space to have a warm, comfortable feeling.
We wanted it to be modern and clean, but cozy. A lot of people come in here with their husbands or their children. And in this little seating area, they can relax, and still be interested while the people they're with are trying on clothing.
How did your label, Electric Feathers, get its start?
I travel a lot, and I used to have a vintage store. I would travel the world looking for treasures. I'd be in a tent in Wales, and then in Paris, and wanted clothing that could go from here to there. I want to be able to put wellies on with a dress, and then wear it with something more dressy. I just wanted pieces that weren't punctuated, in interesting fabrics, that could go different places.
I wanted my pieces to be like blank canvases that people could style in the way that they wanted to. You don't have to put some shiny thing on my designs, but if you want to, you can. They're monochromatic slates. I use natural fabrics—mostly silks—no synthetics, ever.
How many collections do you design per year?
Now I'm on the calendar, so two times a year. Style.com just posted photos of my fall 2014 collection.
What was the inspiration for your latest collection?
It was very kinetic. The way we shot it was all about movement and shapes. I put a lot of lamé in there. A lot of my customers are performers, and I was sort of following what people come to me for—beautiful fabrics that move.
Do you have a typical Electric Nest customer?
Not typical, they're all very different. But a lot of singers and dancers come to the store. There's a freedom to the clothing. It's very interactive, with the belts and the draping. Most of the pieces can be personalized—you kind of have to get involved. A lot of creative people are drawn to that aspect of it, so I'm very lucky.
What inspired you to open a store?
I love being in direct connection with my customers. When you're doing wholesale you don't know who's touching your clothes.
How did you pick all of these great items for the store? They really complement your line.
I love objects. I love lacquer, and vintage Yves Saint Laurent towels, and Lucite jewelry, and books about Japanese fashion from the '80s, and old pencil sharpeners from the '70s. I just picked little treasures, little things that I wanted, and surrendered them instead of keeping them for myself.
What are the price points in the store?
The clothing ranges from $300 to $1500, with most pieces in the $400 to $500 range. We do hand-painted silk and leather pillows, too, which are $118 to $450. The knot pillows are great, they're really comfortable on the back—they give great support. But we also have things in the store that are $25 or $50.
So it's a place where you can pick up a little gift for someone, too.
Oh, definitely. My friend Keetja Allard makes the candles that we carry here, they smell amazing. The funny little monster candles and the traffic cone candles do really well. And my friend Red makes these Antidote chocolate bars, which are delicious. I didn't want the space to be isolating. And I think it's going to evolve. I might one day put paintings of sculptures in here. That's the fun of it—not knowing what it's going to evolve into.
What's your best-seller?
The most popular piece from my line is this ruffled caftan dress. It's really flattering because it's convertible. You can wear it strapless, or as a skirt, or criss-crossed. It's really infinite. I do this one every time, and just make it a little different every season.
You could travel with just that and have like, four different outfits.
Yea, the convertible pieces are the ones that are really popular.
And you have vintage, too!
There are a few really special pieces, a little bit here and there. Like vintage Kansai Yamamoto. It makes it more fun, and it keeps it interesting for me, too.
How did you decide on South Williamsburg for your shop?
I've lived here for nine years, and most of the people I know live here. I feel like it's the future. There's a lot happening here.
Do you have any favorite neighborhood spots?
Of course I love Marlow & Sons. I really like Tabare and Café Mogador for brunch. And Whirlybird makes amazing tacos. They play good music, too.
Are there any plans for e-commerce?
Ooh, like a few months from now?
We're hoping a few weeks from now! We're taking lookbook pictures. We're making it really simple for spring. And then for fall we'll go all out.
Time for the lightning round! 8am or 8pm?
Beer or wine?
Whiskey or tequila?
Beach or mountains?
Cats or dogs?
Favorite vacation destination?
Kyoto and Marrakesh.
Favorite happy hour spot?
My store. Rosé in the afternoon.
Rap or country?
· Electric Feathers [Official Site]
· Now Open: Escape the Season With Electric Nest's Colorful Mix [Racked NY]
· All Better Know a Store Owner Posts [Racked NY]