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Kelly Killoren Bensimon chats with fashion designer Timo Weiland
Born in rural Nebraska and raised between New York City and Jacksonville, Fla., Timo Weiland is one of the hottest fashion designers and he has the awards to prove it. A darling of Barneys New York, Timo didn't come from fashion. Before fusing the skater culture and the super chic elite in design, Weiland was a numbers cruncher at Deutsche. After three years, he started DJing around the city and was selected for the CFDA Incubator fund and now the Ecco Domani award. It isn't by mistake that this curious and talented dreamer is taking the fashion world by storm. From his studio, Weiland spoke to us about his latest and greatest endeavor: preparing for New York Fashion Week.
Q You are the hottest fashion darling. What's your secret?
A Staying authentic is the best thing. I was reading about designer Thom Browne and he even said to stay true to yourself. I'm trying to authentically present myself to the world.
Q What was it like to be selected by the CFDA?
A We were DJing at the SoHo Grand and someone told us to apply to the Incubator. We knew we'd be so silly if we didn't apply, and how amazing it would be to be exposed to the mentorship. Every day we are so grateful. We are a completely different company now.
Q How are you a different company?
A With fitting methodology, or even the creative process, and how we think, has changed. [We think about] who is Timo, and how to maintain our roots in the skateboarding and street culture. [And] how do we present that element of fun and playful element in a focused way?
Q What's the Ecco Domani award?
A They have a lot of applications and they narrow it down to 50 and then between 2-4. This year there were 3 winners. Rag and Bone and Proenza Schouler were some of the past winners. I've know about this award since 2004, and its surreal to take things to the next level. The award is sponsored by Ecco Domani wines of Italy. It's a $25,000 grant that goes towards New York Fashion Week. It has the same level of prestige as CFDA and Vogue Fashion Fund. It gives us momentum and we are so thankful. It's given us a renewed passion for what we love.
Q What were you doing before fashion?
A I worked in mergers and acquisitions for Deutsche Bank Securities. I recognized the evaluations of all the brands I was working for could have been better if they tweaked this and that. I left Wall Street and consulted with Kristian Laliberte. I met Allen Eckstein (business partner) and Donna Kang (head designer) who met at Adam Lippes, and we became friends first. Our first show was Spring 2010. We are now in Ron Herman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York and Shop Bop.
Q What's your favorite venue in NYC to DJ?
A I love the rooftop of the Jane Hotel. Sean MacPherson has an amazing aesthetic, is on brand with us and a great friend. They are so cool and creative. They just opened a new restaurant at the Marlton House hotel.
Q What designers do you wear?
A I mix it up with Dries van Noten, Marc Jacobs, Patrik Ervell, Robert Geller and Alexander Wang. Usually head- to-foot Timo, but Duckie Brown jeans and Acme.