11 Questions with Sean Toner

11 Questions with Sean Toner

Sean Toner isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Fueled by an encyclopedic mind of fashion references, Toner’s upcycled and handcrafted garments double as wearable works of art. His patchwork denim, layered hoodies, and micro bags have made customers out of tastemakers from Bad Bunny to Girl in Red, and his waitlist is only growing from here. Watch this space and get familiar with the self-taught mind behind it all—just don’t ask his age. 

How old are you? 

I don’t like telling anyone, because they treat me like I’m too young to know what I know or do what I do. Someone's age is something you ask so you can properly file them into your world. I like to deny people any tangible definition of myself. I like the idea of a designer like Carol Christian Poell, free of labels. Define me by my work.

Where are you from, and where are you now? 

I moved around a lot growing up in South Florida, but I am currently in Los Angeles.  

What is your first memory with streetwear? 

My first memory was before I thought clothes could be interesting. My uncle had a ‘70s re/made jacket, which is an insane piece. I complimented him on it, and he gave it to me. It made me feel cool like he was—I realized clothes had power, and they could give a unique feeling to the wearer. 

If you had to compress your personal style into one outfit, what would it be? 

I wear a lot of different styles (like Gaultier) when preparing a new collection, but I would say something cozy and all black. 

When did you first feel inspired to create your own designs? 

I was told I had to learn how to sew overnight by my then-painting mentor Bruce Helander. I brought my painting to him for the weekly critique, and when I showed up, there was a sewing machine on his desk. He said he wanted to make a painting out of fabric, and that I would have to learn to use the machine by the next day. It was not easy. I started wearing the pieces I made to test them out, and people would ask me where they could get one, so I started selling them.

Describe your design aesthetic in one sentence, if you can.

“Design should be placed sparingly upon the right point, the right moment. ”- Dries Van Noten 

Where do you feel the most inspired? 

In my studio.

Which living designer do you most admire? 

Marc Jacobs, Carol Christian Poell, Demna [Gvasalia]...there are too many, but first comes Rei Kawakubo.

What’s your biggest creative or career milestone so far? 

Being able to support myself off of my craft. Bad Bunny, Nav, Girl in Red, Xavier Wulf, Boogie, and many more have bought my stuff, and I’m beyond grateful for it. It keeps me going, when stuff like that happens, but I know that it’s what comes with the work that I’m doing. I’m excited for the future—I’m still in first gear, but I’m about to switch and drop my best work yet.

How do you want people to feel when wearing your designs? 

If you have a good piece with you, you’re never alone. 

What would you most like to change about the current fashion industry? 

We need to slow down and look at ourselves—our planet, our materials, and what we value. We need to stop glorifying the easy and fast, and learn about technique.  

Shop Sean Toner on TRILL here. 

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