Of the countless ways digital media has affected the fashion world, one of the most impactful was built off the simple premise that what was being worn outside of fashion shows was just as important as what was being worn inside them. In the world of street style photography, few names carry as much weight as Tommy Ton.
Ton’s street reporting on fashion over the past two decades has informed an entire industry on what it means to be seen. His trove of style portraits would establish his own lens as a fashion week staple as well as an editorial figure within publications like Vogue, GQ and Style.com.
Modern street style photography, in many ways pioneered by Ton himself, is intriguing through its candid nature. It’s true that nearly all outfits look better when done with an air of effortlessness — the greatest compliment a person can receive on their outfit is one unheard. Look at that, an onlooker whispers to a close ear. While loud, statement pieces might quickly catch an eye or camera lens, an outfit built on subtlety and quiet confidence is the truest mold of a street style look.
Since 2018, Ton has worked as the Creative Director for the independent New York City luxury brand Deveaux. Founded by Matthew Breen and Andrea Tsao, Ton’s hire turned heads as he traded in his camera for color swatches and began directing both men’s and women’s lines for the American-made clothing brand. While Ton broke into the industry through photography, his desire was always to be involved with design. In the short time since his arrival, he has proved his alternative career path in fashion is sufficient — if not exceeding — in leading the next generation of NYC luxury brands.
Deveaux strives to deliver clothes that are easy to wear. The brand’s men’s collections are, at their core, uniforms. The Fall/Winter 20 collection harnesses earth tones that match with anything and fabrics that are complementary but not show-stealing. The luxurious take on uniform dressing calls back to the subtle flex world of street style—while you may be yearning for Ton to snap you, it's best to not appear you’re trying too hard to achieve it.
Deveaux’s aversion for overt or campy design also stems from Ton’s healthy distrust of the industry. “Fashion has always become a business, but now more than ever things have become so much about numbers,” he explained to Business of Fashion in 2018. “I’m not the only one to feel less of a connection to fashion. Everyone is tired, and nobody is excited about it.”
The brand’s mission to respark excitement has been built upon practicality. It’s hard to feel passionate about clothes that spend more time folded in an armoire than worn on the sidewalk. Where many brands separate the two schools of style thought, Deveaux is working to build a bridge between them. Clothes that capture luxury and uniform, the energy inside the fashion show and on the sidewalks outside them.