Zoran Ladicorbic, born in 1947, was an architectural student from Yugoslavia who came to New York and launched an unconventional fashion business in 1976 that stood out for its simple formula of luxurious, casual basics. In contrast to the ornate frocks of Parisian couture that screamed "expensive," Zoran made stark minimalism his signature as he turned out spartan collections of tops, pull-on pants, shift dresses, sarong skirts, and sweaters in sumptuous cashmere, Tasmanian wool, cotton and silk taffeta, and lamé. Zoran's silhouettes never changed, so that a Zoran wardrobe defies the very notion of fashion trends. Zoran calls his fashion formula "jet pack" fashion: simple styles without zippers, fastenings, or other embellishments. The clothes can be folded flat and tossed into a carry-on suitcase stashed in the over-head compartment of an airplane. Zoran's business is as spare as his fashions; he has neither design assistants nor does he offer secondary lines like jeans and fragrances that round out other designer collections.
Top-Selling High Fashion Brand
In the 1990s, Zoran's business exploded and became one of the top-selling high-fashion brands in stores such as Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, and Saks Fifth Avenue. As a luxury brand, Zoran appealed to upscale businesswomen and movie stars such as Isabella Rossellini and Elizabeth Taylor, who preferred the low-key glamour of simple basics that allowed them-and not the clothes-to shine through. His most devoted fans are known as the Zoranians. Fashion observers regarded Zoran's minimalist formula as basics for the rich.
Fueling the mystique of Zoran's quirky fashions is his iconoclastic demeanor. As he wears his hair and busy beard long, he has been dubbed fashion's Rasputin. A chain smoker who loves Stolichnaya vodka, Zoran is a confrontational dictator who doesn't believe in fashion's usual conventions. He believes that confident women should simplify their lives and wear flat shoes, no jewelry, and a wash-and-wear haircut-along with his clothes.
Retailers say that the Zoran formula is luxury goods marketing 101. He only sells to one or two stores in every city, which makes his clothes hard to find, and therefore all the more coveted by his fans. As a result, retailers aren't compelled to mark down the goods to fuel sales, as Zoran repeats the same styles year after year so that nothing in his collections looks dated. Because he does no fashion shows and gets very little publicity in the press, shoppers regard his brand as having the ultimate snob appeal-the epitome of "dog whistle fashion," pitched so high that only insiders recognize it.
Agins, Teri. "Uniquely Chic: If Zoran Doesn't Ring a Bell That's Fine with Quirky Designer." Wall Street Journal, (5 May 1995).
--. "Outside of the Box: Zoran." In The End of Fashion: The Mass Marketing of the Clothing Business. New York: William Morrow and Co., 1999, pp. 247-274.
Brantley, Ben. "Zoran Zeitgeist." Vanity Fair, (March 1992).