5 Minutes With... Tommy Ton, Creative Director Of Deveaux
If you’ve ever flipped through a fashion magazine, browsed a street style website or even swiped through Instagram in the past five years, chances are you’ve seen the work of Tommy Ton, the photographer and fashion week veteran who's been capturing fashion off the runways for the better half of the decade.
And while Tommy has had his fair share of capturing what happens outside the shows and also backstage, he's recently switched focus and begun hosting his own fashion shows for New York label, Deveaux.
You may or may not have heard of Deveaux—there are no loud colours, no crazy cut-outs, and definitely no bold logos. The discreetly luxury New York label started with a menswear range in 2016 by designers Matthew Breen and Andrea Tsao and appointed Tommy as their creative director in February 2018. We speak to the multi-hyphenate about fashion, time management and his adorable Samoyed, Mochi.
How did you get started in fashion?
Tommy Ton I actually grew up wanting to be a designer until I actually started interning with one. It was a lot of hard work and sleepless nights so I set that aside and tried my hand at buying. I worked in retail but soon realised that being a buyer was a bit tedious—it was all about numbers. In 2005, I got into photography and that was the time when street style photography was gaining momentum. That’s eventually how I got into the industry.
How did this partnership with Deveaux come to be?
TT I’m good friends with the founders, Matthew and Andrea, and I would help them in the beginning by offering my advice. When they wanted to expand into womenswear, I volunteered to help them as their new creative director and they were very open to the idea.
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Tell us what you do as creative director.
TT A lot of people think that as a creative director, your role is just to present the direction and tell them which way we’re going, but for me, I go into the studio and work six days a week, analysing fabric choices, silhouettes and the line plan.
It’s a very hands-on experience for me, and even though we’re two seasons in, I’ve learnt a lot. When a brand is carried around the world, you start to realise all these details. For example, when we worked on FW19, we realised the collection needed to be transitional with pieces that can cater to different markets around the world.
What was the approach you took for Deveaux’s womenswear collection?
TT We decided to offer a more gender-neutral collection. There were challenges we faced initially because clothes that are cut for men might not work on a woman’s form and sizing was a big issue. So for SS19, we introduced a collection that was cut specifically for women. Outerwear and knitwear are unisex, but for trousers and other more fitted articles of clothing—we cut for a woman’s body.
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Do you create with a certain woman in mind?
TT She’s discreet, quiet and her age can range anywhere from 30 to 70, which we like to communicate through our shows. The types of models we pick are reflective of the consumer—she might be a working mom or someone who has aged gracefully, and she’s very conscious of her choices. She understands luxury in fashion.
How did you cast the models for the SS19 and FW19 collections?
TT For both seasons, we did a street casting and hired models of all different ages and races. For FW19, the show wasn’t your typical runway as the models would stop and interact with each other. I loved the slight gestural moments. My favourite piece from the FW19 collection is the cape sweater (pictured below).
Sustainability is on the tip of everyone’s tongue these days—how does Deveaux take part?
TT For us, it's about creating a beautiful collection that will last forever in your closet, and in that way, the clothes don’t go to waste. In fashion, it’s great to create something that’s very newsworthy, but at the end of the day, you have to create clothes that people envision wearing over and over again. That’s a sustainable mindset.
Do fashion weeks and shows still excite you?
TT I still like going to the shows and find it fascinating when someone captures my attention for the first time. If anything, it has taken over my life in a good way. I’m only in my 30s so this is the time to go full force and embrace all that is happening.
How do you split your time between photography and working at Deveaux?
TT As a photographer who's become a designer, the transition into Deveaux has been a grounding experience. I love travelling but I’ve been flying to fashion weeks for over 12 years now and it’s quite tiring. I started skipping out certain weeks (cutting out men’s fashion week and focusing mostly on New York and Paris). I don’t have FOMO anymore since there’s always going to be another fashion week.
Shop the Deveaux on Net-a-Porter and follow Tommy Ton on Instagram @tommyton.
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This article first appeared on hk.asiatatler.com.