Joe Zee is ready to roll up his sleeves to help designers turn their struggling businesses around on his new Sundance Channel show, "All On The Line," premiering Tuesday, March 29 at 10 p.m. ET.
"I know so many people who want to break into this industry. I was that person when I started," Zee, ELLE magazine's creative director, tells Zap2it. "Here's a chance for these designers to benefit from my expertise."
If we were envisioning Zee's return to reality television as a way to fill the void MTV's "The City" left behind, Zee makes us think we're in for a rude awakening. This doesn't sound like that show. But to hear him describe what this show really is makes us think it could be better.
Each episode of "All On The Line" features a different struggling designer who hit a roadblock and over several weeks Zee helps them identify the problem, redesign their collection, as well as present a collection that they've designed together to a major retailer.
We recently caught up with Zee to find out what attracted him to this project and how the show shines a light on aspects of the fashion industry we haven't seen before.
You're no stranger to reality TV, but what drew you to "All On The Line"?
This was really the brainchild of Sundance. They came to me and approached me with it. And as you said, I've done my fair share of reality TV, but I've also worked in the fashion industry for 20 years. So as someone who has done TV, watched a lot of TV and been in this business, everything on TV has been fun and quite entertaining, but it has never been really genuine, authentic and real. And I thought, here was the perfect premise and it would show what this industry is really about. It is not at all flashbulbs and red carpets and glitz and glam. It's a lot of blood, sweat and tears and it's a lot of people doing what they're supposed to be doing, who are so dedicated to this industry, want to be successful at it and just want to find their way.
With all due respect, there have been several fashion reality shows and the stars tell us, for example "The City's" Whitney Port, that it shows a real glimpse into the fashion industry. What makes your show different?
I know what Whitney's saying, but you never really got to see everything from beginning to end on how Whitney really designed that collection. And there are so many bumps along the way before you can even get it on the runway or to get it in front of a buyer. There are so many issues you have to deal with and I think you really see it here. And I really feel like this has more of a doc thing and a doc feel than it being just another show on television. Is it entertaining? Absolutely. These people are crazily, emotionally invested creatively, artistically, dedicated to their work. So, any person coming in and criticizing them is going to be a problem.
Will we see designers who end up not making the transition you wanted them to make in addition to those who do?
Yeah, absolutely. We're talking about eight episodes, eight very different designers and eight very different ways a business works. This is exactly what I was saying about it being very real life. There's no guarantee. You never know what the outcome is going to be. Did I want it to be a fairy tale ending for the buyer to buy it every single time? Absolutely. Is that the case? No way. That's just real life. It doesn't matter what I want. It's how it actually unfolds when it happens in real life. So, that's really what it's about and I think we don't present it and gloss it over and pretend it's a happy rom com ending every single time, because that would be doing a disservice to what this entire show is about.
Watch a preview below:
Has Joe Zee piqued your interest? Will you be tuning in?
Photo/Video credit: Sundance Channel