Who is Tommy Ton?

In I am... on January 28, 2011 at 8:55 am

The Man Behind the Camera

Street style bloggers wish they had taken his photographs. Magazine editors wait for him to snap their photo. But who is the man behind the camera that zones in on all the little fashion details that the other photographers miss?

Of course, you would only care if you follow street style, so this one goes out to my fashionista/ fashionisto (=fashionisti) followers.

Tommy Ton Facts & Figures and Other Stuff

(accompanied by a selection of my favorite Tommy Ton Snaps this year)


What does street style photography entail? Pretty much on his own nickel, Ton loiters outside fashion shows in New York or Milan or Paris, waiting stealthily for the right pair of shoes on the right editor or model to saunter by.


Favorite Item of Clothing: Shoes

“I’m a stalker. If I see a pair of shoes I like, I’ll follow them down the street. I’m not creepy. But I am obsessive.”

Shoes are Prada by the way


Daily Blog Hits: 25,000

Why Street Style? He has little time for the prefabricated looks of Hollywood celebrities because he believes his audience is bored with the starlets they know have been styled by a professional. Rather, Ton wants to photograph the seriously connected fashion editors, buyers and stylists because they pull themselves together. They live at fashion’s ground zero.

How important is fashion to Tommy? Ton appreciates fully that his perception of the world is extremely narrow. “What’s relevant for me is what’s happening in fashion, not what’s happening in the world.”

Favourite city: For a photographer/blogger with a shoe fetish, Paris, he says, is nirvana.

Favourite Fashionista: His dream girl, Carine Roitfeld, the former editor-in-chief of ParisVogue.

“She really likes to test me. Once, after I had identified every garment she was wearing, I was thrown by the shoes – but then she told me they hadn’t even been on a runway yet.”


What sets him apart from the rest of the fashion paparazzo: He is a label savant.

Ton’s ability to identify articles of high fashion with his photographic memory has given him a unique identity. In a flash, he can also name the designer and the season for which it was created. And his remarkable gift has endeared him to the industry’s top players.

Life before fashion? It all began in Oakville, Canada. He was 13 – a “nerdy kid who liked comic books” – when he laid the foundation of his career.

“I spent a lot of time sketching and that’s how I made friends. I used it as a tool to become popular.”

First fashion memory? When he was a fourteen, his older sister was out of town, she asked him to tape episodes ofFashion Television. Ton was struck by the spring 1997 heroin chic Gucci collection by Tom Ford. “The makeup, the hair and the way Tom spoke so intelligently about fashion. I was hooked.”

Career steps: At 16, he went to work for Toronto designer Wayne Clark. Then he went to the Holt Renfrew sales floor, eventually ending up in their buying office. For a time, he contributed a column to Flare magazine and took a job with Linda Latner, overseeing her Vintage Couture website. “I still work for her. Her site is like a fashion museum. She has been a tremendous mentor. I’m like her tech guy.”

Since starting his blog,, Ton has made a conscious effort to separate himself from the many street photographers who lurk outside fashion show venues, shooting anyone wearing an outfit they believe might sell.

Then came the call. A representative of the giant Asian retailer Lane Crawford asked Ton if he would shoot their 2009 campaign.

“I thought. `How can this be possible? This is the biggest luxury retailer in China. I’m not even a photographer and I’d only been blogging for three months.'”

Lane Crawford flew Ton to Paris in January and some of the campaign used the couture shows as a backdrop in Le Jardin des Tuilerie, near the Louvre.

“They wanted the images to look like my blog.”

Today his blog receives so many requests for photos from around the world that he can’t keep up with demand. “I may have to hire an assistant,” he says. But he has not made his millions yet. When at home, he still takes the bus to New York to cover the collections.

Funnily enough: He still lives with his parents.

Shopaholic himself? “I’m like Carrie Bradshaw. If there is something I want, I’ll get it, even if I have to wait for it to come up on eBay. I would starve for fashion.”





Proving street style rules over runway…

Keep up the good work Tommy!


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