Fashion designer Zang Toi is the recipient of The International Center in New York’s Award of Excellence, the founder of House of Toi, and has dressed fashion icons like Elizabeth Taylor, Farrah Fawcett, Patti LaBelle, Melinda Gates, and Saudi princess Haifa Bandar Al Saud. Toi was at the Indianapolis Saks Fifth Avenue this past weekend for his annual trunk show, and PATTERN caught up with him to chat about his past and the future!
You’ve been a fashion designer for a long time and we’re curious about your early experiences. You were the youngest of seven children, and you decided to relocate to NY to pursue your love of fashion. What did your parent think of this decision?
My late father was worried that his baby boy will end up a starving artist, but mom gave the OK. She said they will miss me terribly, but she was happy as long as I was happy and healthy. 🙂
Succeeding in such a competitive market is incredibly difficult. Releasing your first collection in 1989, what contributed to your brand taking off?
I was truly blessed that my very first collection made it onto the cover of WWD and a dress made it into Vogue Magazine.
How important is it to balance both the creative and the business in order for a fashion brand to thrive?
It is extremely important to strike a balance between creativity and business savvy! One must run a fashion operation like any other business to be successful, to have longevity.
Tell us a little bit more about dressing Elizabeth Taylor.
Dressing Elizabeth Taylor was a childhood dream came true! She fell in love with my silk organza florals caftan!
How has your process for creating a collection evolved over time?
My creative process has mostly stayed the same over the past 27 1/2 years , but I learned not to be afraid to EDIT the collection to the maximum to make a well-edited STATEMENT for the past few seasons!
Did you ever imagine you would have such a success when you first started studying at Parsons when you were just 20 years old?
Absolutely not…I have been extremely blessed to love what I do, and work very very hard without unrealistic expectations!
Did you have a specific inspiration for your Fall 2017 collection?
This season was inspired by a particular shade of ‘Brilliant Royal Blue. I wanted the collection to be a well-edited collection with razor-sharp tailored chic day wear and glamorous evening looks finely crafted from the most luxurious fabrics.
What makes your pieces timeless? How do your pieces stand out against other designs that have a similar style?
I work hard at designing each piece in my collection to be timeless, to be true investment pieces that hopefully will stand the test of time! I honestly do not worry about what other designers do. I always follow my own path!
What advice would you give the 20 year old you about about running a successful fashion brand, and about life in general?
PATIENCE… success does not happen overnight or in a short few years ! PATIENCE kids, PATIENCE!
Describe your most memorable commission, and tell us what made it special.
It was great HONOR to create Melinda Gates’ Millenium 2000 gown… a classy and kind lady!
The fashion industry has undergone some upheavals in the last few years. Do you have any thoughts about where it’s headed?
The survival of the fittest!
What are your thoughts on the Indianapolis fashion scene?
The ladies of Indianapolis love and enjoy wearing GORGEOUS and great quality fashion!