The Vine

Exclusive: Tommy Ton on Club Monaco, Photography and More


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Tommy Ton at work (Photo credit: Phill Taylor) 

If you are a fan of street fashion, then Tommy Ton of Jak & Jil needs no introduction. He started out photographing chic women on the streets of Paris and London and is now one of the industry’s most sought after photographers, snapping campaigns for the likes of Lane Crawford and magazines like Vogue. His latest project however sees him moonlighting as a handbag designer for Club Monaco.

Tommy is in Hong Kong tonight launch this exclusive collection which includes a messenger bag designed for women and backpack style for men (HK$1,950 – HK$2,250).  He will also unveil a series of fun photographs featuring various style icons such as Poppy Delevigne and Liu Wen carrying his favourite design.

We managed to grab Tommy for a quick chat to find out about the collaboration and why he will always be a street photographer at heart.

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The Tommy Ton x Club Monaco messenger (left) and backpack (right)

How did the Club Monaco collaboration come about?  

I’ve been wearing Club Monaco and following the brand since I was young, and about two years ago I went to the headquarters for an initial brainstorm meeting about how we could collaborate. I didn’t want to just shoot a lookbook so we came up with the idea of doing a bag collaboration. I thought a backpack would make the most sense since I carried one at all times. [For a behind-the-scenes look check out the exclusive video at the end of the post]

Was it easy to transition from a photographer to bag designer?

Yeah absolutely.  I’ve loved fashion since I was a teenager and I had aspirations when I younger, so when the time came it was fairly easy and so much fun.

What are your favourite styles from the collaboration?  

I’m definitely more partial to the backpack. I designed it with myself in mind and also just with the idea of designing something very simple and functional that anyone can use.  I’m used to seeing backpacks being too utilitarian, so it was great to go towards a more minimal approach.

How did you become a fashion photographer?

It fell into it by accident because I needed an excuse to be able to go to the shows abroad. I became addicted to the excitement that was happening outside the venues and the reason why I decided to photograph real people was because they were more inspiring that the clothes going down the catwalks.  They made the best subjects just because they were more accessible and more relatable.  

How do you choose your subjects?  

My subjects are really chosen based on gut instinct.  I just point and shoot at whoever catches my eye, whether it’s someone familiar or someone I’ve never seen before.  It’s all about the mood and the right moment and time.  I think I really enjoy shooting the torso, where you can catch a glimpse of someone’s mouth, their neck and their wrists.  It’s great because you can capture how they accessorize different parts of the body.

You started a phenomenon with your blog Jak and Jil – how do you stand apart from the rest? 

You just have to be yourself and focus on doing what makes you different from everyone else.  As long as you’re passionate about what you do, your point of view is what makes you stand out.

What inspires you the most?  

I’m a big Tumblr addict.  I love getting lost in the Tumblrverse and just looking at images constantly.  It’s like looking at various individuals’ moodboards.  

What is the best piece of advice you could give to aspiring photographers?  

To really challenge yourself and to focus on your own point of view rather than trying to please others and to always have an open eye to all things.

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