11 Questions with Tony Rainwater

11 Questions with Tony Rainwater

What happens when you combine the aesthetic remixing of Dapper Dan with the trip-inducing color wheel of Takashi Murakami? It would probably look a little something like Tony Rainwater. Pulling inspiration from ‘90s rave culture and ‘80s manga, the Philadelphia-born maximalist transforms each of his staple silhouettes by hand—resulting in a kaleidoscope of remixed luxury logos, renaissance art, and nostalgic cartoons. Below, the 31-year old wunderkind talks outfit-repeating, DJ Mustard, and finding treasure within others’ trash. 

Where are you from, and where are you now? 

I’m from Villanova, but I’ve been living in Chicago and New York City for the past nine years.

What is your first memory with streetwear? 

Probably going to Dave’s Quality Meat when I was 14. To be honest I don't remember anything about it, but my earliest memories of fashion mostly have to do with obsessing over which colorful AND1 shorts to buy and what shoes to get from Eastbay. I always liked flashy stuff, anything with colors that pop. I like pretty simple, classic cuts of clothing but with very radical prints. 

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

Rick Owens wears the same outfit every day, I wear a different outfit every day. I could never answer this question, sorry!

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

I have been obsessed with clothing my entire life—my friends reference parts of my life by how I was dressing at the time. I've gone through a lot of different styles. When I lived in Chicago I would spend 20+ hours a week thrift shopping, so I've seen an unbelievable amount of variation in prints and fabric. I was inspired to start making my own clothing when I couldn’t find the pieces I wanted to buy, so I decided to create what was in my head. I only started selling my designs about a year ago. 

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

“Chaos must shimmer through the veil of order.” - Novalis

Balenciaga denim jacket and pants

Where do you feel the most inspired? 

On the street, looking at trash that has been manipulated by rain and graffiti. If you really stop and look at a piece of newspaper on the street that’s been soaked by rain, you can see the most beautiful colors and textures. Oftentimes they make for incredibly unique abstract compositions. Graffiti is inspiring because of the painterly aspects of it, the use of line.

Which living designer do you most admire?

I really love Plagueround’s work, especially the painterly aspects of their design. I was fortunate to become friends with them since starting my line. 

DJ Mustard

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

I like to keep it simple, nothing is more fulfilling to me than being stopped by a stranger on the street who likes my outfit—although it’s also really cool that DJ Mustard is a fan of my work.

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

Happy and excited. I believe clothing should make you feel positivity, confidence, and a stronger sense of self.

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

I would like it to become less boring—I really don’t like boring clothing. No ill will if that's what you're into, but it's just not for me, and I don't want to spend my money on something that makes me look anonymous. I aim to fight this boredom by making flashy clothing that stands out. I want people to feel like they are actually shining when they wear my designs—I don't mean that in the metaphorical sense, but in the sense that they are literally radiating and reflecting intense light to the people who see them. 

Shop Tony Rainwater on TRILL here

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