Hot 100 2013: Tomasz Donocik

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The London designer on a year winning stockists and awards in the US.

By Steve Spear

With seriously high fashion credentials on his side, Tomasz Donocik is one designer going places. And we mean that literally. He now has accounts as far afield as Korea and China and as prestigious as Tokyo’s Isetan and London’s Harvey Nichols.

With the US high on the agenda and a double-award-winning debut showing at Couture in Las Vegas under his slim-hipped dark leather belt, he is well on his way to spanning the globe in terms of prestigious retail outlets.

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The breakthrough in the States was a huge moment for Tomasz. He travelled to Couture with Rock Vault, the jewellery initiative run by the British Fashion Council to promote new British jewellery talent that he has been part of since its launch in 2012.

At the trade show Tomasz made quite the splash, beating some very well established designers to win both the Debuting and Diamonds Above $20k categories of the Couture Design Awards, which are judged by designers, journalists and buyers. And the US retailers bought. Not just silver either, but the designer’s fine lines. He laughs happily at the thought of this, adding that he doesn’t know why he hadn’t made the move sooner.

Obviously the US is going to be big for Tomasz very soon, so it’s satisfying that the dashingly handsome black-clad designer and Central Saint Martins graduate keeps London as his base.

“The last year has seen some big changes for the brand,” he muses. “From last September we welcomed quite a few new stockists to the brand in the UK, like Fortnum & Mason. Now we have big demand for the stores we met in Las Vegas. We still want to keep the brand quite exclusive and not flood the marketplace.”

It’s far from a mass brand. Intellectually driven and looking like a rock ‘n’ roll version of an Alexandre Dumas cavalier, he quotes 19th century Russian romantic Mikhail Lermontov as the inspiration for his latest men’s collection. And his own European roots – part Austrian, part Polish – influence him too.

“The two cultures are so different and yet I do see influences from both in my designs and style. Growing up in Vienna, I was exposed to opulent, baroque art that was sophisticated and polished. The architecture in Poland is a stark difference with rough and oppressive styles and steeped in a rich and fierce history. The contrasting elements of these places I can see in how I mix contrasting colours and textures; gold with steel or iron, leather and metal, polished stones with textured surfaces. The influences I had growing up are part of what defines me.”

It all adds up to what Tomasz calls a dark, sinister, bold and sophisticated aesthetic. Neatly, he has a devilish side too. When asked his best trait he says: “Ask my lover.” And his worst? “Ask my girlfriend.” We suspect he jests, but if not, at least he can console her with some of his jewellery.

This year he also created his first women’s collection, though men’s jewellery remains his heartland for now and he’s all over the trends, keenly aware of the move to more tailored and smarter looks for men of all ages. “But,” he says, “I feel in general there isn’t enough attention to accessories. It’s the details like a small pendant or leather bracelet that keeps your style continuous – whether you’re wearing a suit for a meeting or T-shirt and shorts in the sunshine.” Damn straight.

This Hot 100 profile was taken from the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2012 book. To read the digital book in full, click here.
 

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