Designer Zuki Balaila co-founded the Zuki brand with his wife Betty. The brand is primarily known for its sheared beaver coats featuring colourful floral motifs, birds or abstract shapes. Each of these unique pieces requires between 60 and 200 hours of work.
A native of the Middle East, Zuki Balaila studied the arts before immigrating to Canada. In 1974, he began working for a variety of fashion companies, most of them specialized in fur. He also studied fashion design at Concordia University in 1975-1976.
Zuki Balaila started adding the Zuki label to his creations in 1980 when he was working for Admiral Fur. It was another six years before he founded his own company and opened his workshop on De Maisonneuve Boulevard in Montreal. Although his first collections were devoted exclusively to fur, he later added some leather pieces to his product line. At the height of the company’s popularity, Zuki Balaila employed a team of approximately 30 people. The fruits of their labour were presented at trade and fashion shows around the world.
In 2015, Zuki and Betty Balaila sold their company to André Langevin. As of 2018, the coats are designed using digital technology and are produced solely on demand to fill orders from individuals and retailers. Zuki garments are sold in approximately 10 stores in Canada, 10 stores in China, as well as in 30 stores in the United States. The Zuki brand also has an e-commerce site. Zuki Fur Factory Inc. has two full-time employees.
Now retired, Zuki Balaila continues to consult for various businesses and lecture at fashion schools.
Madeleine Goubau, Collaborator