“I love music, its my biggest passion in life except I can’t play for shit so didn’t pursue it. In saying that I try to make my work as musically involved as I can and spend the majority of my money going to watch my favorite bands play, and buying silly band merch.” –Zara Mirkin
What Youth: Tell us about New Zealand.
I grew up in Auckland City. And strangely enough I was a city kid who lived downtown and went to High School on Queen Street. Being brought up in New Zealand was pure luxury. We had 2o minute access to the most incredible black sand beaches in the world, mountains and forest. It was super low key and relaxed, drinking in parks and the beach when we were young teenagers. Now my family lives on the west coast, which means your’e a “westie” or a “bogan.” Which consists of drinking beer and riding up and down the beach on dirt bikes or in the back of a hilux. It really is the most beautiful place in the world to come from and I think about home and the people there everyday.
What’s your background in fashion?
Zara Mirkin: It started with design in my teens. In my early 20s it organically transitioned into styling, which since has evolved into likes of photography and art direction. I was born and raised in New Zealand. My crew growing up is New Zealand is still my crew, mostly a bunch of weirdos who were always down to go on crazy adventures, play music, party, make things together, eat things together, live together, explore nature together… pretty much do everything together. They never failed to make me laugh and inspire me.
How’d you make the leap from NZ to NYC?
My dad is from New York so we spent a lot of time there growing up. I always wanted to move to NY but was shit scared because it seemed like the scariest city in the world. I had run out of things to do work-wise in NZ and was planning an easy move to Sydney. Two weeks before I was meant to leave I had a realization moment where I was like you are going to move to NY eventually so you are just wasting time being scared going to Sydney first. Last minute I changed my plans and booked a ticket to NY. I had saved a ton of money in NZ, which I lived off for the first year while I found my feet.
Who were the first people you worked with in NZ?
I got a job as the fashion editor of NO Magazine at age 20 with no experience. I was so lucky thrrough that to start working with Karen Inderbitzen Waller and Derek Henderson. Both New Zealand creatives who’s work I highly respected. They gave me a chance and taught me a lot about what I still know today.
What happened when you got the NY?
I had no work connections or plans when I arrived in NY. In fact, I didn’t want to be a stylist anymore and didn’t know what I wanted to do and I was pretty confused. I was taking a lot of photos at the time and that was making me super happy. People were noticing them and I started getting photo work — shooting portraits and editorial stuff for magazines like Oyster, Nylon, Dazed and Love Want — as well as shooting my project “Lonely Girls” with lingerie brand Lonely Hearts, and being in a group art exhibitions. After a year I had really run out of money so decided to start styling again, by then I had met some great friends I started working with, as well as contributing to Oyster Magazine as a fashion editor, so it was a lot more organic and not the usual NY hustle most people deal with. And on top of it felt passionate about it again. I have to say I feel pretty lucky — I work for some incredible publications, small designers and huge high street brands that I dreamt of working for as a teen, and getting to travel a lot for it.
My styling and photography have naturally merged together to make my strongest work, which is beginning to makes sense to me now.
Did you learn most photo shit from mentors in the industry or professors at school?
I don’t really know a whole lot about taking photos. I was top of my photo class in high school but forgot how to work a camera. Years later I just started taking photos on throw away cameras and then got a few point and shoots. I just stuck to shooting my friends and nature, and documenting my life and the people around me and it seemed to work out pretty good. I still try to only take photos of that kinda stuff. I’m also really lucky through styling that I get to work with some of my favorite photographers who really support me taking photos and teach me lots of things.
On a side note, how’d your photos of Bobby [Pentagram] and Wino [Saint Vitus] come about? Were you hanging with those dudes.
I love music, its my biggest passion in life except I can’t play for shit so didn’t pursue it. In saying that I try make my work as musically involved as I can and spend the majority of my money going to watch my favorite bands play, and buying silly band merch. Pentagram, Saint Vitus and Dead Moon are three of the best bands that ever existed, as well as Bobby, Wino and Fred and Toody being my idols. Because they are not really famous bands its pretty easy to hang out with them if you are a stalker fan like me. I have had drinks with Fred and Toody a couple times and taken photos of them with my best friend on the hood of her buick that we painted the Dead Moon logo on that day. Wino gave me his knife at Deathfest a few years back and my friend who grew up with Bobby Libeling loaned me his studded black jacket for a week. It definitely had some black magic attached to it. I dream about one day being good enough on the bass that I could play music with those guys.
Send us a selfie.
Here are all my favorite pins I just scored.
You have anyone to thank?
Oh man so many people, but yea all my friends everywhere and my family, particular my sister and my best friend Moni.