These two fashion industry veterans have triumphed through ’80s excess, survived ’90s grunge, and have weathered the current recession. Toi produces some of fashion’s most sophisticated pieces, while Quinn brings the Twin Cities a unique point of view on men’s and women’s accessories and their ability to transform fashion. We asked these men to share their insight as industry insiders from opposite ends of the fashion spectrum, ranging from Toi’s design to Quinn’s retail.
How has the fashion industry changed since you first started?
Toi: The lightning speed of the industry has greatly affected the retail sector. With the ever-changing trends that the fashion magazines impose, consumers are often left confused.
Quinn: Trends’ longevity is limited in today’s hyper-swift market. It is unusual for trends to last even eight months. Ten years ago, the average lifespan was at least 18 months. As a fashion retailer, it is important to identify trends and adapt continuous change in your business model and for your customer base.
How has the recession impacted your business and the fashion industry overall?
Toi: I personally hope the recession is a necessary cleansing process and that consumers will bounce back.
Quinn: The recession and business downturn have helped our guests truly understand our commitment to their personal style rather than conspicuous consumption. It has been our friend, believe it or not.
What does luxury mean to you?
Toi: Luxury simply means valuing quality over quantity.
Quinn: Luxury is not just a product; it is more a feeling or an emotion. Luxury is time for friendships, for family, and for yourself.
How has dressing changed over the past 20 years? Have people gotten lazy?
Toi: Yes, to a degree some people have gotten lazy, but there are still many of us who enjoy dressing for the occasion.
Quinn: Americans invented the “sportswear” fashion phenomenon, but society has taken this casualness to a degree I find disappointing. Respect for dressing and one’s presentation is an important part of success. This is the premise of my wardrobe consulting service, styledlook®.
Which is more important in creating a distinctive outfit: garments or accessories?
Toi: I am huge believer in individuality, so it depends on each person’s style and preference.
Quinn: When you talk about the basic “uniform,” it always starts with clothing. I feel strongly that accessories make an outfit distinctive and best expresses one’s personal style. Who remembers a great turtleneck?
How do you feel about the rising popularity of high-low fashion?
Toi: I love the pairing of high-low pieces. There is absolutely nothing wrong with pairing Levi’s jeans with an alligator Hermès Kelly bag and one of my cashmere-silk cardigan wrap-set with mink border.
Quinn: It is democracy of fashion, and I find it intoxicating and exciting. It gives consumers the opportunity to make their own decisions and has opened the door to allow more people to feel fashionable.
What foods, activities, or traditions inspire you?
Toi: French cuisine and table settings are gorgeous. Japanese food and its packaging look perfect and provide beautiful inspiration.
Quinn: My dear friend Zang is a foodie. When I visit him in New York, we only eat at the finest restaurants and everybody knows him. Me? I could have a bagel and LAFFY TAFFY and be happy.
What are some of your favorite destinations?
Toi: I love places that are filled with beautiful women and handsome men like the ruggedly handsome cowboys and ranch hands of Montana or the exotic beauties of Africa.
Quinn: My life is about dualities. While I am a hotel aficionado, I adore small-town America. I love the simplicity of the American lifestyle in a small town. Fashion exists everywhere.