Despite being a fledgling label by fashion industry standards, Sydney-turned-New York-based TOME has received a lot of attention of late. In 2013, the duo behind the brand – Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin - staged their first show at New York Fashion Week. They were also nominated for the CFDA/Vogue fashion fund award, which resulted in visits from Anna Wintour and reality TV stardom via The Fashion Fund – a behind-the-scenes look at the competition which pitted nominees against each other. Needless to say, it’s all a very long way from UTS.
Launching to coincide with the release of TOME’s resort collection is the White Shirt Project. Each season, proceeds of the initiative will go to Katie Ford’s ‘Freedom for All’ Foundation, an organisation that seeks to end human trafficking, the modern day slavery.
“We’ve known Katie for two years now, having supported ‘Freedom for All’ through fundraisers she’s hosted,” Martin explains on their association with the ex Ford Modelling agency CEO. “The work she does is incredible, but so challenging. Very few people know how many victims of slavery and trafficking exist, or the fact that it’s not happening somewhere else in the world, but where we live.”
In order to throw a spotlight on the cause, Lobo and Martin designed a tunic-style collarless white shirt – a garment to be worn with ease by any body type. “We wanted to give every woman a chance to support “Freedom for All,” Martin says. The designers saw the white shirt as an intrinsic staple of any woman’s wardrobe, essential to TOME’s luxuriously minimal aesthetic, and a fitting metaphor for a clean slate – a new start for those being emancipated from slavery.
With friends such as Iman, Carolyn Murphy, Jenna Lyons and Jessica Hart acting as ambassadors for the project, one suspects the goal will be achievable. Obviously, Martin and Lobo’s turn as reality TV stars has helped too – “what we’ve recognized is that we have a public identity and a voice, and that we can use it for more than just selling clothes.” Like George Michael before them, these guys know white shirts and supermodels is a good thing for freedom.
TOME’s White Shirt for ‘The White Shirt Project’ is available exclusively at netaporter.com from June 10.