Tuesday, March 21, 2017

We pause to celebrate creativity in clothing--ThackerNYC's Toni Hacker talks about inspiration, narrative in clothing design, classic films, OCD, Bette Davis, hanging out with other designers, and those indispensable clothing kits

My new go-to designer for all my clothes: the brilliantly creative Toni Thacker

Oh! The showroom!

Portrait of the artist at work

A bit about the company

Oh black! Oh glorious shimmer!

Yes, I wear all black, but I'm making an exception for this gorgeous dress

I think everyone should have these

I always interview writers because I'm fascinated by process--by any creative process--and so I've also interviewed filmmakers, directors and clothing designers. Anyone who knows me knows that I dress in black. If there were a darker color, I'd wear it. But I also, like many women I know, have a terrible time finding clothes that speak to me, classics with just a little bit of something unique. I first saw a link, "12 black things every woman should own"--and I went nuts. Everything was perfection, including the things that were rich with color. Unusual, classic, different, and--and actually wearable! All by ThackerNYC, who is really Toni Hacker. 

I promptly wrote the company to express my devotion and because I wanted to interview Ms Hacker, to see how she works and how she comes up with designs. And I plan to wear my ThackerNYC clothes on tour.

Thank you so much, Toni, for agreeing to answer my questions, and thank you even more for creating such glorious, absolutely perfect clothing.And also, the lipstick tips. I bought the Mac.

Every woman I know knows how impossible it is to find wearable won't go-out-of-style pieces that you can dress up or down. When I saw your collections, I felt they were so perfect I could not stop staring at them and yearning for them. Can you please talk about the philosophy behind these incredible clothes?

Thacker was created after years of listening to women (customers, friends, and family) vent their frustration about finding well-made, versatile wardrobe essentials that aren't boring...I was having the exact same problem finding what I was looking for in the market, even though I'm in the fashion industry.  My takeaway was that women over size 12 and the age of 40 are often ignored in the contemporary market and that finding versatile, unfussy wardrobe pieces was becoming just another chore in an increasingly busy world. I decided to try and tackle the problem by creating a collection of modern-meets-classic 'forever' wardrobe pieces that work together for endless looks and that work with everything you already own. I want the brand to be the hardest working 10% of your closet that you love and reach for every day.

What I also love are the details that make a very simple piece special, like subtle blue sparkle on a dress or a gorgeous gold on a classic bootie. Where does your inspiration come from? And how do you choose the fabrics and the designs?

I love classic design, but for a piece to be truly special it has to have personality...a bit of narrative. My background is in studio art and industrial design, so I fell into fashion in sort of a sideways manner.  A lot of my inspiration now, for Thacker, comes from thinking about the platonic ideal of an item and then tweaking the line, cuts, or fabric so that it feels simultaneously modern and timeless. I love unexpected details, fabrics, and color. Classic film is a huge inspiration (I live and die by the Criterion Collection), as well as art. I'm a bit of a method designer and can be seriously OCD when I'm working...I'll watch the same movie or listen to the same album repeatedly until I finish a collection. I think I do a lot of problem solving in my sleep...sometimes I dream about the collection or specific pieces and wake up to sketch them. 

How did ThackerNYC get started? What are your backgrounds? The name is really fun to say, by the way!

 launched Thacker in late September of 2016 after I exited my previous brand, Hayden-Harnett, in August of 2015. When I left I did some freelance design and consulting work and then decided to create a new brand dedicated to amazing, kickass women everywhere. The name, Thacker, came from abbreviating my name. It's how I sign my letters.

I also love your kits (as everyone knows I live in black and you are making dressing stress free for me!) what other kits are you thinking of?  

I'd love to do a beach kit! We have some really fun pieces coming out for spring/summer 2017, including our first swimsuit and a really amazing coverup.

I am fascinated by how creative people work, especially in industries different from mine. What is a typical day or so like for you? What is the best part? The worst? 

I do a lot of different things within the company (design, marketing, and graphics), so I try to be pretty scheduled with my day and work so I don't get overwhelmed. I wake up at 6, make coffee, skim my emails to reply to anything super urgent, and plan our Instagram post for the day. I just moved to Beacon, NY after living in NYC for the past fifteen years so I'm loving my new commute on the Hudson line...the river views are crazy beautiful, inspiring, and relaxing. Our office is located on the west side near Hudson Yards, and I usually get in around 10am. My day in NYC involves working with my assistant to plan social, reviewing samples and fabrics, designing graphics for our site and newsletters, and meetings. I leave the office at 5:30 and wrap up any outstanding emails on the commute home.

We writers hang out together and discuss our work-in/progress and exchange ideas all the time. Is it that way in the fashion world? And do you test drive ideas?

I think everyone in fashion is too busy to hang out! Joking...and not joking. Fashion seems glamorous, but it's a LOT of work (physically, emotionally, and mentally). You have to be a great multitasker to survive and the pace can be a bit frantic because you have to work on-calendar. Fashion folks definitely reach out to each other for help finding specific materials, or if they need help with sourcing, freelancers, web designers, photographers, etc. 

I always try to personally road test what I create before it goes into the line. I have to know that it's going to work in real time, not just when you're sitting behind a desk.

What is obsessing you now and why?

Immediately, right this second, I'm obsessed with Bette Davis. I've been watching 'Feud' with Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange...I would give anything to be on set and see those costumes and feel those laser vibes in person. Just watched Bette in 'Jezebel' last night. Classic.

What question didn't I ask that I should have?

Favorite pieces in the collection! The Ren pants, Beau blazer, Riva shirtdress, Georgina bag, and Pippin coat are absolute must-haves. Every woman should own these pieces. 

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