Beyond the Brand: DEVEAUX
Beyond the Brand aims to allow readers to be introduced to the designers and creative directors that are behind fashion's most-daring and radiant brands. This interview will introduce you to Tommy Ton, beloved street style photographer and the Creative Director of NYC-based label, Deveaux.
What’s your fashion story? Was it along the lines of “I knew I wanted to be in the industry since I was five,” something unexpected life threw your way, or somewhere in the middle?
When I was 13, that was when I knew I wanted to work in fashion. I was watching a fashion program about Tom Ford's Spring 1997 collection and right away I knew I wanted to work in fashion. I was completely smitten and my lifelong obsession began. I started plastering my walls with fashion clippings and I'd tape as many fashion programs as I could.
Can you tell us a little bit about how the typical day in the studio goes?
My day starts a few hours later than everyone else's cause I'm a bit of a night owl and work better in the late hours of the night. On a day where the weather is nice, I'll take the time to walk my dog into Manhattan from Brooklyn. It's a 45-minute walk across the Manhattan bridge but it's a great scenic walk that gives me time to think without distractions. If I arrive just before lunch, I'll have a chance to join the team for lunch for us to catch up. Otherwise, if I'm late, I'll come in and initially see if I need to review any designs, fabrics regarding development. Maybe we'll have a fitting where we see how a prototype comes back from the factory and see what adjustments need to be made. This goes on till about 7 pm and then after that we all head home and I walk back across the bridge with my dog.
I understand you’re the photographer and creative director, how do these roles overlap for you, and how involved are you in the design process with Andrea?
Tommy Ton: So my role at Deveaux leans more towards working on a design. I rarely spend any time as a photographer while working at Deveaux but it's all the years that I spent working as a photographer that informs the process of designing. So I work on the design development of each collection and work closely with the team. It's a lot of time spent sourcing our fabrics and then developing ideas. Andrea works on the logistics and oversees the development of the collection to make sure it all comes together and that we're on schedule.
Some of our customers I’m sure are familiar with how far in advance fashion works, but to give them an idea, as of right now (November 2020) what season are you working on?
Tommy Ton: So as of right now, we're working on Pre-Fall and Fall/Winter 2021/22. This the first time we've combined our pre and main collection together and we will be presenting this in a month to buyers. We had to really think quickly about this collection as we had to start working on it even before we showed the last collection last month. It's a lot of logistics that in the end will make things easier for everyone.
How would you describe the inspiration for the Fall/Winter 2020 collection?
Tommy Ton: The inspiration for FW 2020 came from an idea that clothes make you feel protected. So we worked a lot on some special techniques for outerwear but it had to be very comfortable. There's always a fine balance of masculine and feminine in each collection but I think we tried to incorporate more masculine garments like carpenter pants and tailoring but softened it with more easy, relaxed knits and sensual draped pieces.
How did your role at Deveaux come to be?
Tommy Ton: It stemmed from my friendship with the founders, Andrea Tsao and Matt Breen. I would come by their showroom each season and take a look at the collection. In the summer of 2017, after visiting their showroom I thought to myself that maybe I should volunteer myself as their creative director and see how they'd respond to it. They welcomed me right away into their family and the rest is history.
How would you describe the wearer of Deveaux?
Tommy Ton: The Deveaux wearer is very comfortable in their own skin. She's always at ease and knows what works for her. She has a multifaceted life and doesn't like to fuss too much over what she's wearing. Her clothes need to be life-proof and just need to help her transition from day to night effortlessly.
What is the ultimate goal for the brand?
Tommy Ton: The ultimate goal would be just to continue creating beautiful, essential investment pieces. We try to think really hard, especially in these times, about what feels right and what would inspire someone to shop from Deveaux.
What is your typical daily uniform?
Tommy Ton: My typical uniform is really just our men's oversized t-shirt and a pair of athletic shorts and sneakers. I just need to feel comfortable walking to work and getting around.
How do you unwind after a busy day in the studio?
Tommy Ton: We unwind easily with a great playlist playing at the studio and having snack time mid-afternoon. That's always a great way for the whole team to unwind. A funny video always helps too.