Interview with Timo Weiland

Christina Parrella

Launched in 2010, fashion label Timo Weiland has made a name for itself with colorful, youthful designs. The eponymous designer and his partners, Alan Eckstein and Donna Kang, garnered nearly instant acclaim for their mix of patterns, textures and prints. The brand has already won this year's Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award and its designers spent time in the CFDA Fashion Incubator program, prepping for their introduction to a more widespread audience. As the three put the finishing touches on their spring looks (to be shown at Made Fashion Week), Weiland spoke to about the brand's inspiration, the CFDA's program for up-and-comers and why he and his partners love Rockaway Beach.

How would you describe your vision? TW: It feels very dynamic, never stale or recycled. There's a signature look that we have. On the male side it's prep meets street, and then on the girl's side it's tomboy meets pretty. She's definitely the perfect counterpart.

When you're designing, do you have specific people in mind? TW: It is a very diverse group. It's not necessarily restricted to age or socioeconomic status or location. The guy and girl are adventure partners; they are interested in the world around them. It is very much New York City–inspired. This city is our home. It's our base.

Take us through your process. How long does it take for you to get a piece ready to send down the runway? TW: We create a mood board; we sit down and talk about what we are thinking for the season. A lot of times we are inspired by each other, by our groups of friends—our creative, quirky, cool New York crew. Alan and I deejay on the side, so as a trio we are inspired by music a lot.

Any music in particular? TW: The Strokes, late '80s and early '90s hip-hop, jazz and rock from the '60s and '70s.

What inspired your latest collection? TW: For women we were really looking at backyards in LA—beautiful landscapes coupled with mid-century architecture, a lot of bold patterns, awnings and different foliage. For men, mid-century California architecture. [Photographer] Slim Aarons captured a lot of what we were loving, in terms of our mood board. The three of us have been inspired by that in an ongoing way, not just with this season, although the collection reflects that.

You spent some time in the CFDA Fashion Incubator. What did you take from it? TW: The mentorship was life changing and career making. We learned so much in such a short period of time. It was one of the most invaluable experiences of our lives. We were excited to apply for it, but didn't know how incredible it would be. We put ourselves out there and put out our point of view to the world. When something like that clicks, it's exciting.

You've also won the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award—how does it feel to have garnered such accolades early on in your career? TW: It was a huge honor for us. We applied because we really wanted it, but you don't expect it. It surprised us. We thought we were a great contender for it, but there were so many people who applied, it was just incredible and out of the blue. It was a huge honor. A lot of our heroes had won it.

Who are some of those heroes? TW: Alexander Wang, Proenza Schouler, Derek Lam—all these American designers.

A lot of New York City–based designers. TW: Exactly. For us, New York is home. We are very proud to be from New York.

What are some of your favorite places in the City? Where can you be found on a day off? TW: All of us really love the Rockaways. You don't have to be a local to be able to get there, and you don't have to be a member of any private country club to get in there. There are cool places to go like the Playland Motel and Rippers.