Q&A: Tommy Ton, fashion blogger
How did you fall in love with fashion?
It was kind of an accident. I grew up in a Toronto suburb. When I was 13, my sister, who is eight years older than me, asked me to tape her favourite show on TV, which happened to be a Gucci show by Tom Ford. I had never heard someone speak so passionately. I was so dazzled by the glamour. I wasn't sure in what capacity I was going to get into fashion - I just knew I wanted to get into fashion.
How did you become a fashion blogger?
Initially, I wanted to be a designer like everyone else, but we each find our own path. I studied merchandising for a year in college. I interned with designers, worked for a luxury retailer in Toronto, dabbling here and there. I started taking pictures of people on the street and at parties, but then I became so bored that I had to go abroad. It wasn't until September last year that I thought I should launch a blog because I had so many photos.
I receive about 25,000 page views a day but to keep my readers coming back I have to post several times a day. I'm a blog junkie, so to be able to give someone else a fashion fix is really exciting.
Soon after, I started getting lots of media attention and Lane Crawford asked me to shoot their campaign [spring/summer 2009]. That's when they realised, 'Wow, he's really doing something with his talent.'
Why do you think your blog has become so popular?
I call my photography fashion paparazzi - capturing [people] when they are not expecting it. I just snap away - legs in motion, or snapshots of shoes. These images are much more compelling then if someone is posing. It's almost like an editorial.
It's interesting to see how freestyle photography has influenced the industry. For example Scott Schuman [of the Sartorialist] shot the DKNY campaign and now I am shooting the [Lane Crawford] campaign in the same format as my blog.
How challenging is it to be a blogger?
During fashion week, there's no time to eat. Travelling four weeks straight each season, I'm not eating or sleeping properly, but I do it for the sake of what I love. When I went to New York this season, I took the bus instead of flying. Someone said: 'You spend all this money on clothes, but you won't pay for a flight to New York from Toronto?' The fact I'm willing to take a bus and spend the money I save on clothes means I suffer for my passion.
What are the fashion elite like, up close and personal?
I find that most fashion people can be intimidating, just because they are these beautiful, powerful figures in the industry. To think that they are normal may seem like a joke, but they really are. I got to bond with Sarah [Rutson] in Milan, and she's very funny and easy-going. Even Carine [Roitfeld] is actually very silly. I've taken a photo of her, which I will not post on the blog: Emmanuelle Alt was having her photo taken and Carine is in the background squawking like a bird in her fur coat, saying, 'I'm a bird!' These people are as silly as me. Anna Wintour is the most difficult person to photograph - she's in and out without stopping.
How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style has changed from my first fashion week [in 2007]. I was very much a club kid. Now, because I've been to Paris so many times, I've adopted the Paris look of a leather jacket or blazer - probably by Rick Owens - a loose, droopy T-shirt, jeans and a pair of Converse [shoes]. I'm very much an androgynous dresser. I would say 60 per cent of my clothes are from women's departments.
The Lane Crawford campaign is a full year contract, so I should be doing next season for them as well. I'm also expanding into video. I was filming every day in Paris. As obsessed as I am with fashion, I wanted my readers to be able to see what it looks like in motion. I'll probably post a trailer on my blog eventually. There's such a demand for content that I needed to do something that would set me apart from the others.
Tommy Ton's blog is at JakandJil.com.