The word “trash” can mean different things to different people, but, no matter which definition you adhere to, there are very few (if any) positive connotations associated with it. From “discarded” and “refuse” to “damage”, the way we think of trash has been ingrained in our brains since we were young. “Don’t talk trash.”, “Don’t trash the house.”, “That girl is total trash.”, etc.
Tony Oliver Award Winning Designer
Well, the time has come for a new definition, one that Tony Oliver is writing by hand. The women’s couture designer and fashion authority based in Seattle, Washington, has actually been making things by hand since he was just five years old. Being self-taught, Oliver has learned how to design outside of the box, which is perhaps why he’s the perfect person to tackle our idea of trash.
As Oliver dove deeper into the world of design, he began creating garments with whatever materials he could get his hands on, which, at the time, were trash bags and other recyclable materials. As he worked with these discarded materials, Oliver honed his skills, learning how to see wearable materials and shapes in items that others overlooked.
TRASH By Tony Collection
His fashion label, TRASH By Tony, is a celebration of the designer’s unconventional beginning. Recently featured at New York Fashion Week, TRASH By Tony is viewed as a celebration of a woman’s strength and autonomy. Oliver’s unique designs smash rules and definitions, liberating women from preconceived ideas of what is beautiful – or even acceptable.
TRASH By Tony features pieces that are timeless, including t-shirts with hand-embroidered flowers, rhinestone snakes and skulls, and barely-there dresses. Showcasing designs for both men and women, the collection epitomises confidence and rebellion, not unexpected for a line that leads with TRASH as its opening act. Affordable and accessible, Tony Oliver is breathing fresh air into the world of fashion. But, he hasn’t completely jumped ship.
Chanel Inspired Designs
Inspired by Chanel, two of our favourite TRASH By Tony pieces acknowledge fashion lineage, proving that it’s possible to be a rebel without losing touch with family. The Wool Green Rhinestone Overcoat is surprisingly elegant, the perfect piece to wear over dresses and leggings. Equally impressive, the French Lace Top and White Pocket Pencil Skirt with Rhinestones provides a ready-to-go outfit, one you can be sure will set you apart from the crowd thanks in part to its perfect fit and those luscious, ethereal sleeves.
Exclusive Interview with Tony Oliver, Designer and Owner of TRASH By Tony
We recently got to know Tony Oliver, the man behind the TRASH by Tony brand, by asking how he started out as a designer, what inspires his work, and what he finds most challenging (and rewarding) about working in the fashion industry, here’s what he said…
Can you tell us a little about yourself? How did you get started in Fashion Design?
I am a self-taught Independent Designer creating fashions with up-cycled clothing as well as original pieces out of couture fabrics and my own beading and applique techniques. I started sewing at the age of 5 on my own. Things in regard to sewing or making patterns just came naturally to me. I got started in Fashion Design about 4 years ago.
What was the first piece you ever designed?
The first piece I ever designed was a full-length evening gown made out of trash bags and other recyclable materials. I actually created a full collection out of these types of items. This was my first runway show. The audience was overwhelmed and didn’t know the gowns were made out of trash bags and thought it was vinyl and latex because the silhouettes and shapes of the garments matched the models’ bodies perfectly.
How has your work evolved since you started your own label?
My work has evolved tremendously. I believe when I created my first line out of trash bags and recyclable materials, that it gave me practice and experience to gain the confidence to actually go into wearable fabrics. When I started working with actual “REAL” fabric I would pay great attention to detail. I believe not only the construction of the outside of a garment should look great, but the inside should just be the same.
Tell us more about the collection you showcased at New York Fashion Week?
The collection I showcased was a mixture of evening gowns paired with futuristic streetwear. These pieces can intermingle with each other and can be mixed and matched to suit. I incorporated LED sound-activated eyelashes on some of the models to give it a modern high techy vibe. Some of the pieces with the rhinestone embellishments and hand-beading were to show more of my skills to the audience and what I can do in regard to couture.
Which is your favourite piece in the new collection?
It is hard to say which one is my favourite piece because they are all my favourites. When I create something I do not put it out on the runway unless I am happy with it.
Where do you draw inspiration from when creating a new collection?
Music. Definitely MUSIC! I can listen to a song and all of a sudden I see a vision of a whole new collection in my head and how it ties together and tells a story. How the scenery would be as well as the hair and makeup and how I would like my models to walk. It’s pretty amazing!
Which celebrity would you love to see in one of your designs?
To be honest, if I could get any celebrity to wear one of my designs that would be amazing! But I would really love to see Lady Gaga in one of my pieces. I went through a scary patch in my life and when her music first came out, it helped me along the way. I would love to create a custom piece for her to show my gratitude for this amazing gift that she has that she shares with the world!
What is most challenging about a career in fashion design?
For me it has to be juggling designing and sewing with answering emails, phone calls, updating my website, staying in contact, and updating social media as well as trying to make money off of my designs to create more pieces. Not only is this a job that requires creativity but it’s also a business and you have to make a profit in order to keep continuing. At this time I am trying to find interns to take some of the load off because I am doing it by myself. It would also be nice to have a sponsor or investor so I can continue my passion and calling.
How do you see fashion changing in the next few years?
That is very hard to say because fashion is always changing and evolving but at the same time, I am conflicted because fashion is also like a merry-go-round. Something you see from the past that was the “IT” thing, comes back around again in style or comes back but with a twist.
When asked about his reasoning for keeping the word TRASH in his collection, Oliver simply said, “I keep my brand name as TRASH By Tony to be true to myself.” Self-aware, bold, and incredibly talented, we’re confident that Tony Oliver will not only successfully change the way we think of TRASH – he’ll change the way we think of fashion altogether.
For more information on this emerging designer, visit: trashbytony.com
To keep up-date with all of the very latest news, catwalk events, and collections from Tony Oliver, you can follow TRASH By Tony on Instagram @trashbytony