Portay, Your Wayby Roza Sinaysky | 05.07.16
There’s no better way of discovering new designers and brands than on Instagram, right? A couple of months ago Telavivian Magazine’s Roza Sinaysky was flipping through her feed, when she stumbled across a beautiful page—it belong to Portay Studio. A new Tel Avivian based designer Dani Veenstra, Sinaysky could’t help but pressing that follow button and making fashion investigation! and find out more about this. Who is behind this fresh looking style and minimalistic, chic brand? We are here to find out! Here is Roza Sinaysky’s interview with Dani Veenstra, the Russian beauty behind Portay.
You are relatively new to Tel Aviv. Where do you come from and how did you get here? What do you like most about living here?
The “new” part is partially true as I used to live in Tel Aviv years ago (before I moved to New York where I lived for 7 years). But to answer your question in depth, I was born in Moscow, Russia and relocated to Israel with my family in the 90’s when I was around 7 years old. After graduating high school and countless sewing/patternmaking courses I decided to take things to the next level and get a degree in fashion design. I moved to NYC when I was 21, knowing wholeheartedly I would love it despite the fact I had never set foot in the US before. There, after graduating from FIT, I worked with DVF for a year during which time I met my husband…
We met through mutual friends while he was visiting New York for business and in the short span of three months (!!!) I was already on a plane to Israel to give us (and the holy land) a true shot. It took me about a year to really give New York up, pack up my apartment and my life to relocate back to Israel.
Wow, what do I like most about living in Tel Aviv? So many things! First of all the view of the beach is an incredible surprise every single morning—I simply cannot get enough of it. Secondly, the market… I love the fact I can just step outside (we live so close to the Carmel Market) and pick up fresh fruit and the best produce in town. It just feels like family, I know by name the guy that prepares the meat/fish for dinner, the lady that does all of my floral arrangements and the guy that has the best veggies, how cool is that?
What do you like about creating in Tel Aviv as a designer?
Now that’s a tough question, to be completely honest I find the local fashion industry incredibly challenging. After the abundance of materials and craftsmen that New York has to offer, most of times I feel like a spoiled brat and I truly admire local designers that do creative and high quality work locally. What I do like is the fact that most young designers I meet in Tel Aviv help each other out with good advice or a referral one might need, there’s a feeling of a community, in a sense, and great talented people that make it a special place.
What has been the best feedback from the local market on your first collection?
Quality. I think one of the most apparent lessons I’ve learned during my time in NYC is a high standard to everything. It’s such a competitive, saturated market that if your product is not executed properly no one will take you seriously. When presenting Portay for the first time to local boutique owners and journalists we received great feedback on the quality of sewing and the final presentation of the garments. I am genuinely thrilled people noticed how much effort went into making it as such.
Tell us about your creative process as a designer, how do you start making a collection?
Designing to me always starts with a fantasy—A beautiful woman looking absolutely fabulous in a changing setting, sometimes she’ll be wondering around Paris, or fast-pacing down the streets of New York, or perhaps embarking on an adventurous vacation with her loved ones. Then, the fantasy needs real materials to become alive. Fabrics are a huge passion of mine; textures, perforated surfaces and a play of sheer versus solid (a major addiction) and shiny versus matte. I always start with the selection of my materials for the season and the color story is mostly very minimalistic, I usually end up having 3 to 4 colors maximum. Once I have my materials lined up, I start developing the silhouettes and different patterns for the grand finale – sewing it all up!
What are the future plans for your brand?
Of course I have grand aspirations for Portay, I would like to believe that we will find the right formula to make it into a brand women revisit for the gems in their wardrobes. But I also am aware of the difficulties this journey entails. I would really like to establish a loyal client base in Israel and at a later stage spread internationally as well, we already had interest from buyers in Paris and other European capitals, but want to do that step once our production is in line for the international market. One conquest at a time…
The style of your brand is so minimalistic and clean. What about your personal style— what do you like to wear in the hot Israeli summer?
Ha ha, and hot it is indeed! Well, generally speaking my personal style is very clean and minimalistic as well, most of my wardrobe is black (I would say roughly 85%!) and these days, starting the 7th month of my pregnancy, I go for all things black and stretchy with loads of jewelry and fabulous shades. I swore to myself I won’t be one of those women who completely give up appearances while pregnant! I actually had some cute dresses custom made because I was having such a hard time to find nice things to wear during that time.
What are the most difficult things you struggled with as a new-comer to Israel?
I would say the cultural gap. Israeli people are incredibly direct, sometimes to the extent of invading your privacy to such levels that you remain completely shocked. It happened to me quite a few times, however, I would say that now, after almost two years since I’m back – it gets easier and takes me by surprise less and less.
The images of your catalogue caught my attention immediately, tell us about this beautiful shoot you did for your look book. Where is your aesthetic coming from?
We actually shot the collection twice, at first when we thought it was only going to be sold abroad and for the second time after we had made the decision to launch Portay in Israel. I wanted to bring the concept of “Cool Luxury” to life in our lookbook, to let people into my initial fantasy when sketching the collection. Generally speaking I’m attracted to clean, sharp lines. Minimalistic and modern decor and architecture are a huge inspiration for me, as you can probably tell by my Instagram feed.
For the first shoot I worked with an old friend that happens to be a talented photographer, Eldad Carin. We used two models on the setting of a breathtaking villa about a half an hour drive from Tel Aviv (we met the owners through friends) and focused on the luxury feel. In the second shoot we had the great pleasure of working with Dvir Kachlon and wanted to connect Portay to Tel Aviv. We chose two iconic locations (The Bima Theatre and the new building of the Tel Aviv Museum) as a backdrop in addition to some studio shots. We wanted the second shoot to represent the “cool girl” that understands high urban fashion. I guess if we caught your attention – it’s a compliment on its own!