Resort season is in full swing and Tome's Ramon Martin and Ryan Lobo are new to the pre-season game. The designers presented their first resort collection last week, and last night held a party at former Ford Models CEO Katie Ford's house to fete the offering and the launch of the White Shirt Project, which benefits Ford's Freedom for All charity, aiming to end modern-day slavery and sex trafficking. The shirts they created are now available exclusively at Net-a-Porter.
The affair brought out friends of the designers and familiar faces like Leandra Medine and Taylor Tomasi Hill. Models Ajak Deng and Jeneil Williams, who modeled Tome's resort collection, were also in attendance, though fashionably late. They were among several guests clad in pieces from the label.
Before we headed downtown to sip prosecco and munch on mini spring rolls with the designers, we chatted with Ramon to find out a little more about the White Shirt Project, their debut resort offering and what's next for Tome.
theFashionSpot: So, this is your first-ever party and also first resort collection!
Ramon Martin: Yes! We're launching resort and honestly, it was a very comfortable collection to work on. It's just such a nice season. Everybody's chilled out, everybody's relaxed. It was really nice and really well-received, so it's great.
tFS: What were some challenges you faced in putting this first resort offering together?
RM: I think just because it was a new season for us, it was really about understanding what the customer is looking for. We had built an idea with our main collection, so we felt comfortable moving forward with that. This is our first collection where they were waiting for us to put together resort, so we were like, "What do we do?" So, rather than putting pressure on ourselves, we did what we wanted to do. We wanted it to be a bit light, a bit whimsical, a bit colorful and just a little bit quieter. And let's not forget the process was a lot for [the studio] as well. But you know what? It was nice. It was the right instance to do it.
tFS: What was the inspiration?
RM: It's the photographer Jackie Nickerson. Every inspiration we have is a muse, whether she is an artist or performer, even somebody who is a historical figure. Jackie, who is amazingly connected, recently had an exhibition called 'Terrain' and it was just beautiful, so eloquent and yet undone. Regal and raw at the same time, so we tried to keep that in mind when we were putting together the collection.
tFS: How did you get involved with the White Shirt project?
RM: I think that kind of loops back to your question about the challenges of putting together a resort collection. Not so much about the challenge, but when you're adding pre-collections, you get a very hectic design and development schedule. You're sort of taking on more work, and we kind of wanted to do that, but we also wanted to make sure that the extra work counted for something. It wasn't just about making more clothes. That's how the White Shirt Project was born. We'd been in contact with Katie Ford over a few seasons. We'd worked with her and her charity in the past and she had come to our fall show and we were just always in contact. It was a very organic development and we just spoke with her and said, "This is what we'd like to do," and she came on board immediately and got behind us. It's been a really wonderful thing to take that initiative, and rather than it being a crazy strategic move, it's just something that we felt we wanted to do and everybody got behind that feeling and made it happen. We're very grateful.
tFS: It's great that it's also for such a good cause.
RM: Yeah, it's an amazing cause. Our philosophy, Ryan and I always say, is we make clothing for all women. That's the mission. We appeal to all body types, all ages, internationally around the world. It's a big challenge, but we like to stick to that philosophy. And not only in the design aspect of what we do, but we want to use it in the spirit of what we do. The mission means that we're making clothes for women, and even if they're not able to wear it, we're still able to touch their lives.
tFS: Last year you were finalists in the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. How has participating in the program changed the label?
RM: It's incredible. It's incredible to be on the radar of all the people involved in the competition. It's amazing. The support of the CFDA, the support of Vogue, it's immeasurable, you can't really define that. And we continue to feel that support even now as we move forward. It's really wonderful. It's important for a young brand to have that validation and that support–you just can't do it on your own. That's what's so amazing about Vogue and the fashion industry is that they realize that. It's nice to have that nod saying you're on the right track. It's an amazing compliment.
tFS: Positive affirmation's always great, especially coming from Anna Wintour!
RM: There's no affirmation greater! [laughs]
tFS: This is obviously a big deal, but what's next for you guys?
RM: We'll be working on the next stage of the White Shirt Project. It's leading up to spring, so we'll start working on that season. Ryan and I, it's always tough with our schedules because the two of us are always having to juggle. We're rarely in the same place at the same time, so what we're trying to do is coordinate schedules so we can take a trip to India together, so we're trying to land on the dates and everything, but we're going to do a big research trip where we'll be looking for women's collectives to work with in India. We're also going to be taking an inspiration trip, which should give you a hint on what we're working for Spring 2015. There's going to be lots of color!