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New vegan Tom Ford to limit use of fur in upcoming collections

New vegan Tom Ford to limit use of fur in upcoming collections
Tom Ford (Chelsea Lauren / WWD)

It has been a solid decade since Tom Ford launched his men's wear collection, but, with the exception of a formal show to mark the opening of his London store, he has opted to present his men's collections in intimate presentations. Until tonight, when Ford's men's wear hits the runway at the theater he has installed in the Park Avenue Armory. The collection has evolved significantly from its tailored roots to encompass a full lifestyle range, which Ford wants to showcase in its entirety. On Thursday, his women's wear will get equal time.

In a wide-ranging phone interview on Friday afternoon from L.A., Ford explained why he chose to do two shows rather than go coed. He addressed other topics as well, some industry-centric (fur; diversity on the runway); some not (his dietary shift). Talk time with Tom is never dull.

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Eyewear is a major focus of the Tom Ford business. The firm sells 1.8 million frames per year.
Eyewear is a major focus of the Tom Ford business. The firm sells 1.8 million frames per year. (WWD)

WWD: Hello, Tom. There are two of us here, so you're on speaker.

Tom Ford: Speakerphone is really intimidating. It feels like a live transmission, like you can't screw up.

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WWD: You could have opted for Skype, but happily you didn't. You'd be sitting in judgment on my messy office.

T.F.: Do you remember on "The Jetsons," because that's our generation, they had that television phone thing, and they would hold up a fake mask to talk, and one day the mask fell off and both women looked like hell? That's what we all need – a fake avatar of ourselves for FaceTime and Skype. Then I'd do it all the time.

WWD: I need the avatar of myself and an office avatar.

T.F.: You could just set the whole thing up. Actually, that's a really good idea.

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WWD: It is a good idea. In the meantime, let's turn to your men's show. Why did you decide to show men's in New York? Why now?

T.F.: First of all, it's been 10 years since I launched men's. I have done presentations with men that were like miniature shows, meaning the guys would come out one at a time, one at a time to roomfuls of people, over and over throughout the day. I also had a small, just-men's show in my London shop when we opened there. And then, of course, I put men on the runway with women when we did our New York buy-now/see-now/wear-now — whatever it was called.

But it's been 10 years, and our men's wear has evolved. A lot of people think of us as tailoring, and we certainly are one of the fashion companies that dominate tailoring. When men think about their ideal suit, hopefully they come to us. And they do; our business is very strong. But over the last maybe five years, we have also broadened quite a bit. We offer every product a man needs — more casual clothes, jeans. The collection has evolved, and I wanted to show that on the runway so that people were aware of it. Also, I've been showing women's in New York and living in Los Angeles. I thought, what a great thing to be able to tag men's to the very end of New York Fashion Week: Men's, and then show women's at the beginning of New York Fashion Week: Women's. It just made perfect sense.

Looks from Tom Ford's men's and women's spring 2018 collections.
Looks from Tom Ford's men's and women's spring 2018 collections. (WWD)

WWD: You've said that living in L.A. has influenced your approach to women's. Is that true for men's as well?

T.F.: I'm showing some tailoring because tailoring is important and one of the things that we do best. Our suits have 35 hours of handwork in them. It's very hard to find clothes that are made that way.

But living in Los Angeles, everyone knows that the L.A. lifestyle is more casual than London, where I lived for the last 20 years. It starts to change your aesthetic regarding color and, possibly, a bit more flamboyance. Things work in Los Angeles that don't necessarily work in London, which in men's wear, at least the kind I do, is quite a traditional city. I think more and more, the [rest of the world] lives more the way people live in Los Angeles than in London. I love London. It's a traditional place; it's like a throwback to another time. My few favorite restaurants in London, you have to wear a jacket and tie when you go. I love that. I love that tradition. Maybe I wish I still lived in that period but I don't. I live in 2018 and the world, whether we like it, don't like it, is more and more casual. So living in Los Angeles is making my clothes, both men's and women's, more relevant in terms of my ability to dress a global customer instead of just these pockets where men, in particular, are very traditional. You have that pocket in New York. You have it with Hollywood agents. If you go to the CAA building, everyone is wearing a suit and tie. And you have it, of course, in Milan and you have it in London. Much of the rest of the world, they want luxurious pieces but they are dressing in a more casual way.

WWD: Do you have any personal views on New York Fashion Week: Men's, and how it stacks up against other cities?

T.F.: I'm really happy about New York Fashion Week: Men's. I investigated possibly showing there, I think, as long as a year ago, when it was first starting, maybe two years ago. And I'm very happy that it's landing right at New York Fashion Week: Women's.

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I've shown men's and women's together on the runway. I think I might even have started that in the mid-Nineties at Gucci. You know, I had a red velvet suit on a man walk right past the red velvet suit on a woman, and I used to always put men in my women's shows and I've done it before.

I think some brands do it very well, where there is a unified image between men and women. [For me], there is a slightly different vibe to my men's wear than to my women's wear. While they may be the same couple, it isn't necessarily exactly the same rhythm, vibe.

WWD: Talk about that. How does a coed show impact the design process for each collection?

T.F.: They do have to work on a runway together, so it affects how you design. Men's wear is usually what suffers because you have to pump it up to hold up on a runway next to the women's wear. Men's does not swing radically from season to season in the way that women's fashion does. Putting men on the runway next to women — it forces you, because it's one show, to pump it all up. One brand that I think does this very well is Gucci. I think Alessandro [Michele] mixes the men's and the women's together beautifully because it is one thing. But his men's wear customer is very different than my men's wear customer.

WWD: Positive words on Gucci!

T.F.: I have to say, I love Alessandro. I love what he's doing. It took me many years to get over that [the ugly departure form Gucci]. Actually, Alessandro helped it because I think he is terrific and what he's done with the brand is amazing. Somehow that has made me feel better about the whole thing than when I didn't think that they were doing such a great job. So I'm happy for him. I'm happy for the brand, and I think he does a terrific job. I think he has an amazing vision.

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WWD: He certainly does. About Gucci, do you still have then some sort of a sense of…

T.F.: A proprietary sense?

WWD: Yes, a proprietary sense.

T.F.: It's a proprietary sense, absolutely. There was no archive when I arrived. It was a cardboard box with some pictures in it. I bought the Gucci Cadillac and I bought the Gucci Lucite piano and I assembled all of that. Dominico [de Sole] and I put all of that together. We bought all those brands, and Gucci was my life for 14 years. So I'm much happier seeing Gucci thrive than I was seeing Gucci flounder.

WWD: That's impressive. When you put men and women together on the runway at Gucci, why did it work then?

T.F.: The very first breakthrough show I had for Gucci wasn't women's; it was men's, in Florence. It was velvet pants and car-paint patent Gucci loafers. Then the following season I continued that for women, and there was a very, very definite link between the two. You know, the Gucci guy and the Gucci girl, a lot of people took pictures of them together, holding hands. I think there's one in my book of Kirsty Hume and a guy, and they're holding hands wearing his-and-her clothes. It was a unified look. That's what I also wanted to say at that moment: This is the Gucci look for men, for women. It's a world. I mean, Ralph's men and women would go together, too, because it's a world. Certain brands, there is a world.

What I do for men is more traditional, classic men's clothes. What I do for women is fashion. My men are more the boyfriends or husbands of the women in my show, rather than they are cut from the same mold and are exact counterparts. So when I put them together on the runway, I guess it was a year-and-a-half ago in New York, I had to try to bump some of the men's patterns up a bit so they could hold up with the women's. It's a different thing. You have to consider it. They are different solutions, but it is a considered thing.

Men's wear buyers and editors, they're excited by a change in the lapel. They are excited by a change in a shoulder or by the use of a new fabric, by very subtle things. That doesn't excite the women's wear editors and buyers; they are excited by a dramatic change. I would never say never, so who knows, maybe one day I'll show them together. But for the men's show now, that's what I want people to be looking at — the details. It's a different industry.

WWD: You show men's on Tuesday and women's on Thursday. Advantage or a disadvantage to be doing two shows so closely together?

T.F.: From a financial standpoint it's a huge advantage. I build that fashion theater, I use it once and then 48 hours later, I use it again. [Laughs.] I'm using it twice rather than building two different theaters in two different places at two different times. So from a financial standpoint, it's a huge advantage.

WWD: Does it bother you that the "big reveal" for the set is at men's rather than women's?

T.F.: I have never liked the concept of a gigantic set, a complicated set. I think it just masks weakness in the clothes. I like showing on a simple runway, always have, under a spotlight, one thing at a time, very traditional. My men's runway is just like my women's.

WWD: The runway is the same, but you said the industries are very different.

T.F.: It's night and day. They are totally different worlds. The editors are different, magazines are different. Everyone in men's wear works just as hard as people in women's. But because things move more slowly, I think there's less disposability. I don't even know how to phrase this. When you're in an industry where things move so fast, sometimes maybe it affects your behavior, it affects your boredom threshold; it affects the need to see more, consume more, throw things away, toss it out, "Oh that's old, oh that's new, oh get that, oh go there." Whereas men's is – I hate to use the word genteel, but it is. It is still a more genteel industry.

WWD: Do you like it better?

T.F.: No, I can't say that. There are advantages to both. I have a pretty low boredom threshold, and I think if I only did men's – which is why I came back to women's – I wouldn't feel creatively satisfied. I like something that moves and changes and is dramatic and it's got flash and power. But I also like making clothes that I want to wear.

I suppose my men's collection is more organic in that I started it because I couldn't find anything that I wanted to wear. I thought, "OK, if I can't find this, then there are other men in the same position." And so I designed things for myself. Or — and we have talked about this before — I design things for the hypothetical six-foot-three version of my 27-year-old self. But it's a different thing. I don't know if I answered your question.

WWD: In some ways, the industry seems set in its ways and in others, it's progressing very quickly. Fur, for example. After years of fur all over the runways, suddenly, two major proponents, Michael Kors and Gucci, just stopped. Where do you stand?

T.F.: Oh my God! The fur question! There's no way to answer this fur question without getting in trouble with somebody. I was attacked by PETA at a Women's Wear Daily event. Do you remember this? A woman came up and started to talk to me, and I thought, "Oh, she wants to ask me a question." She reached in her handbag, and I could tell by the look on her face that she was reaching for something. I thought it was a gun. It was a giant container filled with tomato juice, which came flying out of her bag, all over me, all over my clothes, all over everything. It wasn't that I was upset that I was standing there dripping with tomato juice, but it was one of the most violent, frightening things that has ever happened to me. It made me very cautious and very wary when anyone is coming up to me, and I see a hand move in any direction. I'm always quite aware. I know PETA doesn't act in that way any longer, at least I hope they don't.

WWD: Your stance on fur?

T.F.: This is a hard question to answer because I have recently become vegan — within the last year.

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WWD: Really? Do tell.

T.F.: I've been vegan for about the last year. When you look at how most of our meat, our animal products, are raised, from a health standpoint, I didn't feel that I should eat those things anymore.

The fur thing – of course, is a natural thing. [Going vegan] starts to make you question that. I have started using much more fake fur. I'm not yet ready to say that I'm fur-free. Now, however, I have limited the fur in these collections and going forward to food byproducts, which does not sound very sexy. "I'm selling you a food byproduct!" That means cowhide, it means shearling, it means not doing fur that is raised purely for its pelt.

WWD: So no mink?

T.F.: No mink, no fox. I have used a lot of fake fur this season. I've also used some shearling and what is called pony in the industry but it is not pony, it is cowhide. There's longhaired cowhide and shorthaired. So I have been very conscious of using animal skins that are food byproducts. Because whether I'm consuming meat or not, other people are, so these are things that are collected.

I'm also very torn about this because fake fur is terrible for the environment. People think of fake fur as a disposable thing. They buy it, they wear it a few seasons, they throw it away, it doesn't biodegrade. It's a petroleum product. It is highly toxic. And then, you could argue that tanning leather is a highly toxic process. A fur coat gets recycled. People wear them for 30 years, they give them to their kids, then they turn them into throw pillows. So I don't know the answer to that. I've been very honest, and it's probably going to get me in all sorts of trouble with everybody, but I don't know the answer.

WWD: Was the decision to only use food byproduct fur the result of a single epiphany or a process?

T.F.: It is something that I've slowly moved toward, just as my diet has evolved. Yes, it's been a gradual process. I don't know. It's a very hard thing to answer.

Also, I have a customer who is very used to wearing leather and fur; it's a part of our business. It was certainly a big part of our business at Gucci. By the way, Gucci is a leather goods company. I know they've banned fur, but they're making a lot of leather handbags, I think. I don't know what the answer is. I would like to hope that we could all have a discourse about it without running the risk of having someone reach into their handbag and douse us with some sort of red liquid, or [do] something even more violent.

WWD: Wouldn't it be lovely if we could have discourse about a lot of topics?

T.F.: It's the environment we live in in today's world, not to be too political, where it's become acceptable to not show respect to people who don't necessarily share your point of view.

WWD: Back to the dietary evolution…

T.F.: I think the nail in the coffin was a film called "What The Health." I had already been thinking about it and tapered off consumption of animal products. I watched that film — by the way, it's very one-sided but very well-done — and I just thought, you know what? I just don't feel like eating animal products anymore.

WWD: When we talked six months ago, you had a box of doughnuts in your store and you swore you'd just eaten several.

T.F.: OK! I do cheat with baked goods. That's true. I will eat a baked good that clearly has some eggs in it. But I don't eat eggs and I don't drink milk; I use almond milk. And I don't eat any animal flesh, I don't eat fish, I don't eat chicken, I don't eat meat. But yes, I do cheat with some baked goods, because most vegan baked goods just don't do it like a box of Hostess doughnuts. And I still eat a lot of sugar.

WWD: You still eat sugar?

T.F.: I mean, I don't drink. I don't smoke. Now I don't eat any meat. I'm essentially vegan. But, yes, sugar.

WWD: Overall, you feel better?

T.F.: I do, actually. I feel physically better being vegan, or eating a plant-based — because "vegan" sounds sort of pretentious – eating a plant-based diet. I feel much better.

WWD: Let's go back to the runway.

T.F.: Yes. Yes, let's do!

WWD: There's nothing negative in saying, "I'm eating healthily."

T.F.: I'm kidding you. It's fine. It's very funny when you become well-known and you're doing an interview and you realize that people actually care what you eat. It's fascinating. But anyway…

WWD: There's so much going on in fashion on so many levels today. One conversation is about diversity on the runway.

T.F.: I have always been incredibly racially diverse on my runways, always, always, always, always.

WWD: Now diversity also means body type.

T.F.: There is a practical reason that most models are the same size, and that's called a sample collection. You make a sample collection [according to] a standardized selection of measurements for models. One reason people show one size on a runway: I can't, eight hours before the show when I'm in a fitting and I decide to use a certain girl, custom make an outfit for her. My clothes are made. They are all made in the same size.

This is an industry thing. Whether we all decide to start making all of our clothes in the next size up, that's a different thing. But there is practicality, there's a reason models are a standard size. They have always been a standard size. Go to any era; models were a standard size, and the clothes were made in that size. And in today's world, models are a standard size. You make your collection and the girls come in, they put them on, if they don't fit the clothes, they don't get the job. I've used very curvy girls and thinner girls, but somehow they managed to fit in the clothes when they come in for their fitting. I don't know whether that's answering your question.

WWD: Ashley Graham has looked gorgeous on several runways. But she is one person. No other really curvy models have broken through on the runway.

T.F.: It's so funny to hear you talk about this stuff because I think this is very insider stuff. I'm sitting here thinking, I don't hear all the same things you hear, because I wasn't even aware there's a discussion about diversity of size on the runway. I didn't realize that it had become anything that would warrant quotes from me in an interview. So I'm fascinated.

WWD: It's not so insider. Once a topic hits social media, everything is an issue.

T.F.: Well, everything is an issue. That's a different subject. So yes, maybe I'm foolish to not have thought that this would be an issue. Everything is an issue, that's true, yes.

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I've done shoots with girls who are [not skinny]; if you hire somebody for a shoot, you have time to make her something. And I've certainly dressed women of different sizes. So it isn't that I'm obsessed with just a certain size girl. But the practicality of it is, you have a sample collection and it gets used in the showroom, it gets used on shoots, it gets used on the runway. It's all the same size and girls need to fit into that if they want to model.

WWD: Another major topic in fashion: cultural appropriation. While everyone is aware of the need to be respectful and informed on references, some designers decline to go on the record with an inspiration, or even stay away from certain motifs they'd like to explore, because they're fearful of backlash.

T.F.: I don't know where all this is going to go. I don't know what we're going to be able to do in our culture anymore, or say. Yves Saint Laurent spent a lot of time doing collections inspired by North Africa. I did an African Saint Laurent collection because it's part of the history of the house. I don't know. I do think we have to leave ourselves a little bit of room to be expressive and creative and…

WWD: Usually, when a creative person looks to another culture for inspiration, it's because he or she finds something compelling about it.

T.F.: Of course! Of course! Of course! Why would you build a collection on something that you didn't find beautiful? And why, if you're one race, can't you find the fashion, the style, the culture of another race beautiful? I mean, in a way, we should be celebrating that.

WWD: A couple of CFDA things. The Health Initiative has been expanded into the Health, Safety and Diversity Initiative. It encourages, among other steps, that designers seek out venues that allow models privacy while dressing.

T.F.: Yes. I've always done that. I've always thrown out all photographers, all press when we start to get the girls dressed. I've always been very aware of modesty — not even modesty, but propriety, backstage. We give all the girls robes, and we throw every single photographer out and don't allow any cameras or Instagram, anything, when the girls are getting dressed.

WWD: That's good. What about the guys?

T.F.: The same.

WWD: What do you think about the notion of some New York designers showing in December and June? Alexander Wang first went public with the idea, and [CFDA chief executive officer] Steven Kolb seems very interested in it.

T.F.: I think it's fascinating. I have to say I would love it. Doing four collections? It's crazy. In men's, we do two collections and we break apart our buy into three deliveries. So we show one season, we show spring, but it's really spring one, spring two, spring three. And we show fall and it's fall one, fall two, fall three. We don't do pre-collections. I would love it if that was the way women's, if your pre-collection and your [runway] were mixed and shown at the same time. By the way, I don't show [women's] pre-collections. The reason is that pre-collections were always meant to be the very wearable clothes, what people might even call basic, but [still] were representative and containing the DNA of the brand. Those things don't necessarily mean much on a runway.

WWD: The CFDA apparently only floated the idea selectively, apart from Alex, mostly to those who have left New York for Paris – Rodarte, Proenza, Joseph Altuzarra, Thom Browne. Were you approached?

T.F.: No. I wasn't approached. But again, it requires a re-fit of the business. Just like see-now/buy-now/wear-now, whatever it was called, I think that could work, too. But it requires the entire industry to rethink and reorganize and unite in a certain way. I don't think you can kind of throw it together in one season. Maybe you can. I don't know.

I would have to really plot out the logistics of what it would mean for us as a company in terms of when sketches get done and when fabrics have to be [delivered]. But the idea of it? Because it's unsustainable now — four major collections a year that have to be presented to the press and sold, it's unsustainable. There is no downtime. The fact that everyone's hiring separate teams for their pre-collections? If you're a designer, how do you have a separate team? I can't have a separate team. Otherwise, why should I put the Tom Ford label on it? Because if I'm going to be involved in it, I'm going to do it. What does a separate team mean? I'm the one there doing it. So how does that work? It has become unsustainable, the cycle.

WWD: To the women's show. Will it be, as we discussed last season, casually oriented for day with pieces and then very glamorous at night?

T.F.: It's like we talked about last season. Day clothes are evaporating, so it's about a potent jacket, a potent pair of shoes, a pair of jeans and a T-shirt for day. And then at night you're done up; at least my customer is. You might wear some of those evening pieces mixed in with something very casual in the daytime.

WWD: When you only need one potent item for day, what is the ramification for the business?

T.F.: It means every single thing you design, at least in the luxury sector, has to be potent. I'm not saying basics don't mean anything, as we were talking about earlier, "pre-" used to be about that. But it has to be the most beautiful cashmere sweater ever known. It has to be the most amazing thing. No one needs just another black skirt, unless it's got an interesting cut or an amazing fabric or something about it that means something. For my customer — this will sound terrible in print — I get calls from our store managers all the time saying we need more things that are more expensive. When [they] say more expensive, they mean more special.

We sell incredible, almost one-of-a-kind, almost-couture for women more than men. Men — our suits are $5,000 off the rack, and up if you have them made-to-measure. Our made-to-measure business is terrific, one of the fastest growing areas of what we do with men's.

WWD: Really?

T.F.: It's about customization — it's about making something that not everyone else has, it's about coming in and being involved in choosing the lining, the fabric, the cut, the shape, the size, the buttons. It's part of that need for something special. A luxury customer does not need anything – they have everything. So it's an emotional purchase. It has to be something that moves them, it has to be something that excites them, it has to be different, it has to be amazing. And it has to be something they're going to keep. Which means that the things have to be potent.

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WWD: Speaking of potent – the red carpet. How has this red carpet season been different for you?

T.F.: It's different for me because almost every single actress has a contract, so there are almost no actresses to dress. I don't do [contracts]. I make the clothes, I give them the clothes, they wear the clothes and then I usually get them back because I archive them. I keep an archive of all the things of mine celebrities have ever worn. But I don't pay celebrities to wear my clothes, and almost everyone this season — Best Actress, Best Actor, Supporting — they almost all have a contract.

WWD: Whether there's a cash payment or an actress is "just" getting a free dress, whether to return or keep, what do you think of the concept of, "Don't ask me who did my dress. I want to talk about something more important?"

T.F.: I don't dress those people. If I give you a free dress and someone asks who it is, you need to say who it is. Otherwise, why am I giving you a free dress?

WWD: Good for you.

T.F.: If I'm giving you a free dress, it's an ad. So if someone says, "What dress are you wearing?" you should say, "Tom Ford. And he's great. He made this for me, and we had a conversation and I love yellow and he made me a yellow dress." I don't know. That's kind of the idea.

There was a time when actresses went to the Oscars in clothes they bought. Remember that? Back in the Seventies? Actually, you had a lot more personal style. There's some things in my women's show you'll see next week, and I thought, "If someone had the guts, this is what they should wear on the red carpet." But nobody's going to wear it because they want a strapless thing with a built-in corset that fits them at the waist and is in a pretty color and they can put their jewelry with it, that they've got the jewelry contract for, and they've got to do their hair in a little chignon at the back and it's got to have just so many little pieces sticking out. It's just – ugh. I'm getting to the point where I actually hate dressing individuals for the red carpet.

WWD: So the red carpet is becoming like weddings for you? I know you hate doing weddings.

T.F.: Yes, I do! And it is. Because now, you're not only working with an actress. You're working with a stylist and then the agents are looking at it and then their husbands and boyfriends are looking at pictures and everyone takes a picture of it and da, da, da, da, da. "Do we like it?" and, "But what does it mean if she wears pink? What does that say about her? Does that say she's an ingénue? She shouldn't be an ingénue, she's got that film coming out; we need to portray her in a more grown-up way. So let's do her in navy blue." Oh, my God! I mean, I don't know why people need designers anymore for a red carpet.

WWD: Whatever happened to falling in love with a dress?

T.F.: Some people still do, and some people still have guts and some people wear clothes very well. And I love dressing those people. Although a few of them this season have contracts with other brands and I can't.

Tom Ford loves Gwyneth Paltrow’s red-carpet approach, noting the white look she wore to the 2012 Oscars, “before everyone was wearing capes … She is not afraid.”
Tom Ford loves Gwyneth Paltrow’s red-carpet approach, noting the white look she wore to the 2012 Oscars, “before everyone was wearing capes … She is not afraid.” (Picture Perfect / REX / Shutterstock)

WWD: Will you name some that you love dressing?

T.F.: I always love dressing Gwyneth. Not that many people would have walked down that runway in a cape before everyone was wearing capes [2012 Oscars] and stood that way and held herself that way and been proud and moved. She is not afraid. She's great. She has presence and knows how to wear clothes. There are others, but I don't want to get into a list. And as I said, there are some that I would love to be dressing but they've got contracts.

WWD: Would you consider doing a contract with anyone?

T.F.: No. A, those contracts cost almost as much as a fashion show. I mean, are you really getting enough bang for your buck? I don't know. And B, no, I just [don't like the idea].

WWD: I find it odd that major brands often agree to do dresses that have nothing to do with their brand identity.

T.F.: Because red carpet clothes — they're frozen in their own red-carpet zone. They don't have anything to do with what goes on in the real world in terms of fashion anymore. Nothing at all.

WWD: Tell us something more about the men's show.

T.F.: I'm launching underwear and watches in this show.

WWD: And?

T.F.: [The underwear] — I think they're very sexy. They're very real, but I also think they are very sexy.

WWD: Men's only, right?

T.F.: Yes, for the moment. Although if you're a woman and you want to wear men's underwear you can certainly buy them.

WWD: And the watches?

T.F.: I love the watch, it's incredible. I'm very, very, very, very happy with it.

WWD: A single watch design?

T.F.: It's a single watch design. Right now, it comes in two different sizes and in different finishes and different colored faces. But it is a watch; it is the Tom Ford watch. This watch has given me the vocabulary to now do another one, but it isn't like I'm going to have 50 watches. I may ultimately have five models.

Great watch brands, which is, of course, what I'm aspiring to be — Hermès has what, five, six, seven models? Rolex, they have very few but they've done an incredible amount of business; Cartier the same. I'm not competing with Cartier and Rolex; that's a much higher price point. I would say I'm more directly competing with the price point and the target customer of an Hermès watch. I'm very excited about it because it's a very simple concept that no one has ever done, and is, as far as I can tell, nowhere in the market. It's something I have wanted for years, and never understood why somebody didn't do it.

WWD: Only men's?

T.F: There are two sizes. I don't necessarily believe in a woman's watch and a man's watch. A Cartier Tank is a Cartier Tank, and you buy it in different sizes. An Hermès Arceau is an Hermès Arceau, and you buy it in different sizes. Maybe it's a different strap.

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WWD: Any other new projects, whether definite or swimming around in your head?

T.F.: I could certainly get into home furnishings. I make cosmetics and fragrance and men's grooming, and I'm working on a women's and men's skin-care collection, which I've done incredible research on for the last two years. I'm not ready to talk about [it] yet, but that's a completely different segment of cosmetics. I'm also launching an entirely different collection of cosmetics called Extremê, which is exactly what it sounds like: products that are more extreme and more daring, which will appeal to still a luxury customer, but maybe a slightly different luxury customer. It's amazing.

Ford launched his brand with beauty, and fragrance and cosmetics remain a major focus. In his fall 2018 runway show, he will introduce a new makeup line, Extrême, which he says, is “exactly what it sounds like: products that are more extreme and more daring.”
Ford launched his brand with beauty, and fragrance and cosmetics remain a major focus. In his fall 2018 runway show, he will introduce a new makeup line, Extrême, which he says, is “exactly what it sounds like: products that are more extreme and more daring.” (Claire Benoist / WWD)

WWD: When is that launching?

T.F.: I'm debuting it at this women's show. We have so many products lined up for launch in Tom Ford Beauty, Fragrances. I'm very involved in that and I love it. And then I have eyewear. We sell 1.8 million frames a year, so that business is very robust. Our men's wear, our men's accessories, men's shoes, women's wear — I suppose women's underwear might be next, but I pretty much make most things now.

WWD: How does your brand break down between men's and women's?

T.F.: At this point I am probably 60-40, but 60 men's, 40 women's, which is, of course, kind of the reverse of what most brands are. But I started men's in 2007. I didn't start women's until 2011. And I'm very established in the men's market.

WWD: Is there anything that we've left out that we should discuss?

T.F.: Oh my God, I don't think so. Should we talk about my childhood and my sort of upbringing? My mother and my relationship with my siblings and how that made me feel?

WWD: Are you mocking us, Mr. Ford?

T.F.: I'm teasing. Teasing is different than mocking.

WWD: Yes it is. We appreciate that. We'll save the sibling talk for next time. See you next week.

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