the Insiders


March 18, 2011 12:15 PM

Eye, Media

Joe Zee to Host New Sundance Channel Series

"The City" might have been cancelled, but Joe Zee is starring in a new fashion-centric reality series premiering on the Sundance Channel March 29....

"The City" might have been cancelled, but Joe Zee is starring in a new fashion-centric reality series premiering on the Sundance Channel March 29. Hosted by Zee, "All on the Line" will document eight struggling designers making one last attempt to save their businesses before throwing in the towel. Elle's creative director will serve as a mentor -- giving advice and helping the designers revive their collections. WWDBlog caught up with Zee to discuss the new reality project.

WWDBlog: How did you find the eight designers for the series?
Joe Zee: It was a great collaborative process between Sundance, Authentic Entertainment (the production company) and myself. We really wanted to find the perfect group of designers that embodied great potential but have hit a stumbling block in their business. It was never about the young kid wanting to be a designer but someone who understood the business, have been in business and is now at the end of their road.

WWDBlog: What's the best career advice you've ever received?
JZ: "Set a goal and then throw it away." I have always been a very focused, ambitious person with very specific goals in my life. And I was devasted at the very beginning of my career when something didn't happen exactly as I envisioned it. A friend of mine, an art director that I respected very much told me that wise nugget of advice that I have always remembered. And now looking back I knew exactly what he meant. If I stuck so hard to my targeted goal, I wouldn't be where I am today. Instead I've far exceeded my goals. In the end, I learned to be loose in my approach to what happens next, even when I plan and I'm always happy for the detour.

WWDBlog: What's the best career advice you've ever given?
JZ: Be curious. I must tell this to everyone who works for me. This minute you stop being curious and stop asking questions and stop reading is the minute you become complacent. And that doesn't work in this industry or what we do.

WWDBlog: Why do you think it's so difficult for up-and-coming designers to get their businesses going?
JZ: I think there's a lot of preconception about what the fashion industry is. It's not all glamour, red carpets and parties. It's a lot of hard work, blood, sweat and tears and I think a lot of designers don't realize that until they're in the game. Fashion design is a very saturated industry and you have to have a strong point of view and a strong voice to make it work.

WWDBlog: What is one thing you would say to a budding young designer?
JZ: Stay true to who you are. Don't chase a trend because you think you're suppose to, don't design for the industry but design for your customer and don't try to be someone you're not. The buyer and the consumer are very savvy and can see ingenuity a mile away.

WWDBlog: What's tougher, making it as a designer or an editor?
JZ: It's tough to be a designer. You are constantly judged for your designs, straddling that fine line between art and commerce while trying to keep your business afloat. It can be great to make it, but it's tougher to stay there.

WWDBlog: Were you surprised at the outcome of the show?
JZ: I loved the final product of the show. But I was most surprised by how some of the show unveiled. I'm so proud of how authentic the show is, but when you are shooting with such a doc-style, there are times that we just literally followed what was happening and there were so many strong personalities, insane outcomes and twists and turns that even as a veteran in the fashion business, I was taken aback.

WWDBlog: Can you compare your experience with these eight designers to that of "The City"?
JZ: I think 'The City' was such a fantastic part of my life and career and I'm so happy for that experience. 'All On The Line' is a different but no less satisfying experience. This isn't about my life but more about the business and the hardships and struggles of making it work in this industry. And as any of these designers can tell you, it can be a constant, daily struggle with constant and daily drama.

Tune in to "All on the Line" Tuesday March 29 at 10 pm on the Sundance Channel. sundancechannel.com/all-on-the-line

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