Toby Clark is a Welsh born fashion designer and founder of ‘Toby etc‘ a design consultancy company.
Widely experienced in the fashion & textiles industry, Toby’s design methodology has influenced a number of international brands. His decade of design for Margaret Howell received three nominations for ‘Menswear Designer Of The Year’ at the British Fashion Awards.
A proven specialist in menswear, Toby has a reputation for authentic design products and original brand concepts. His sensory intuition and evolutional approach to design has attracted loyal consumers.
Throughout his career Toby has felt affinity with natural materials, particularly wool. Having learnt to handknit at 8 years old, this early fascination with textiles prompted him towards a career in fashion. After graduating from the Royal College Of Art in London he started his own clothing label which earned him the title of Welsh Fashion Designer of The Year. His launch collection was selected by the International Wool Secretariat to feature at Premiere Vision in Paris. In recent years Toby has renewed his love for wool becoming an ambassador for the Campaign For Wool in New Zealand.
A quiet activist of environmental causes, Toby favours brands with an ecological purpose and who respect our planet’s finite resources.
During the economic slowdown prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic, Toby began to exclusively wear pre worn items of clothing. This represented his personal resistance to the fashion industry’s insatiable demand for new products made out of new textile materials.
To emphasise this thinking, Toby began wearing the same set of clothes every single day for a full calendar year, aiming to offset the negative impact he personally created as a designer. Estimated to be 500,000 newly made products designed between 1990 to 2017 and which contributed to an excess of clothing the world’s consumers did not necessarily need, but rather desired. His Same Clothes Everyday manifesto was admired by Lidewij Edelkoort who invited him to be part of her World Hope Forum.
To underline his design philosophy, Toby has written articles for academia, recently authoring ‘The Provenance Of Fashion’ published by Bloomsbury. While an art student in Bournemouth his written thesis on ‘Uniforms’ turned into a collaboration with photographer Wolfgang Tillmans.
Having established a career as a clothing designer and design consultant Toby continues to pursue opportunities within sustainable and ethical parameters, seeking to preserve the natural balance of our eco-system.
To review a fuller background of Toby’s career, please click on the Biography section.
A company profile and curriculum vitae is available on request.
“I think of myself as an arbiter of beautifully crafted objects and a fashion philosopher of sorts. I pursue honest design and seek to create products in harmony with nature.
My career has tended to be entrepreneurial, developing original concepts for niche lifestyle brands. I resonate with brands who instil a sense of purpose and design discipline as an important motivation for their work. I admire brands who create beautifully crafted products that are human-centered, with consideration for the end-user and our planet.
My design approach starts by quietly observing the inner culture of a brand organisation and then contributing meaningful pragmatic solutions, that do not seek to reinvent the wheel. The simpler the better.
I prefer to focus on the social benefits that good design can bring to others, rather than the profitable gain. I help and mentor young designers starting their own brands and who share a desire to create an environmentally sound footprint.
I value authenticity and integrity over imitation. I feel attracted to people with a natural incidental style, rather than those who chase consumer trends. I resist technology that seeks to replicate human attributes and feel a great aversion to the A.I. world of human avatars that seems likely to infiltrate our future society.
I endorse holistic design-thinking. During the design creation phase I consider the environmental impact and social responsibility within the supply chain and strive to reduce the need to discard or throwaway clothing & textile products. I do this by creating timeless products that are quality driven and encouraging their frequent use and then repair. I personally like to wear the same set of clothes until they physically wear out.
My principal desire is to help bring progressive change to the fashion industry. I share the overriding concerns about global supply chains, which often conceal how and where goods are made. The willing instigators of such practises often adopt a blind moral code and fail to consider the impact either on our planet or how the garment workers are treated within the manufacturing process.
Am passionate about ‘localism’ in business models and concepts that directly connect people with their place. I consider this a type of urban activism that benefits our social wellbeing.
I take inspiration from many different aspects of our living world and am fascinated by New Zealand’s tuataras. These creatures being the only living species on earth to have survived when the dinosaurs died out. Born with a third eye for extra periphery vision and hearts that beat just once per minute, they remain the true survivors on this earth. While the dinosaurs dominated the landscape and seemed to demand all of the attention, they did not possess the tuataras evolutionary ability to adapt, especially to climate change. A lesson we can all learn from.”
Brands & Projects
“Throughout my career I have been privileged to work with a number of influential brands, each providing invaluable insights.
As each brand develops its own unique culture and specific personality there is always a sensory learning curve. Understanding the profile of the consumer is as vital as understanding the make up of the product.
While some brands may value the materials, fabrications and quality of make as their point of difference, others will place more emphasis on developing conceptual styles or their campaign imagery.
The brands I admire the most have common attributes, notably a design discipline and sense of purpose within their organisations. This enables brands to identify and attract like-minded thinkers, which in turn creates an innate energy and flow. Cohesive teams are strengthened by their mutual commitment, making the ethos of a like-minded team an effective strategy for brand growth.
As a consultant, achieving a level of autonomy within the brand organisation is often key to successful brand projects and this requires trust and confidence. While each project brings its own unique challenges, a key aspect is gauging how best to stimulate positive change, while respecting the existing brand culture.
Most of all, I believe a design consultant should aim to satisfy the end-consumer as much as the brand company, simply because it’s the continued loyalty of the consumers that makes a brand sustainable.”
2019 – 2020
2018 – 2019
2015 – Present
Tolaga Bay Cashmere
2015 – 2016
Blackhorse Lane Ateliers
2014 – 2015
2011 – 2012
1999 – 2012
1998 – 1999
1993 – 1997
2017 – 2018
Fine Arts College
2015 – 2016
2015 – 2016
2014 – 2015
Provenance of Fashion
2015 – 2020
Fandom – British Football Fans
1991 – 1993
Royal College Of Art
1989 – 1990
Bournemouth College of Art & Design
1988 – 1989
Southampton University of Art & Design
1987 – 1988
Cartrefle College of Art & Design
1985 – 1987
1980 – 1985
Darland High School
1975 – 1980
Gresford All Saints School
1974 – 1975
Borras Park Primary School
Ethos & Identity
Toby etc. is a bespoke ideas company.
An established clothing designer and brand strategist, Toby Clark leads unique projects for international brands, working alongside respected opinion formers. Toby believes in doing things slowly with crafted care, championing a commitment to quality and underlined with a sense of purpose.
The studio is guided by uberrima fides, a latin term meaning ‘of utmost good faith’. Honesty and integrity are common values in all authentic brands and can be developed into strategic armoury when building the brand culture and brand reputation.
Toby’s intrinsic approach is to avoid cutting corners or favouring cheaper solutions. He carries out detailed observation with wide reaching research for all projects. This commitment has enabled him to work closely alongside his brand clients, creating beautifully crafted products that attract loyal and discerning followers.
Toby uses his vintage sheepdog whistle as a meaningful symbol to represent the ethos and identity for Toby etc.
“My red sheepdog whistle was given to me in 1978 by my NZ grandfather Jack Ramsden, a respected farmer and sheepdog trialer.
He taught my brother and I how to blow the whistle, while ‘Star’ his champion sheepdog, tracked a flock of sheep on the distant hilltops. The skill, coordination and loyalty between man and dog blew my mind. I love how a small whistle instrument can send detailed instructions to an attentive loyal sheepdog and how this process represents a lifetime’s skill and knowledge.”
When conceiving the brand identity for ‘Toby etc.’, Toby wanted to collaborate with a true craftsman of letterforms and logotype. Mr Smith’s Letterpress in Kennington, London is run by the talented Kelvyn Laurence Smith.
“I first encountered Kelvyn operating a letterpress at The New Craftsmen exhibition in Somerset House. He was printing alliteration art, with a mug of coffee in hand and whistling a tune. He looked to be an artist in flow and I felt intrigued by his approach to font, type and letterforms. It seemed to be the embodiment of a contemporary artisanal master-craftsmen.
To do my own branding I wanted to commission a true practitioner of three-dimensional letterforms, with a real ‘hands-on’ approach to the subject. As in a traditional foundry, rather than appointing a digital brand studio. Often 21st century creatives are reliant on their flat digital screens. Kelvyn proved to be the perfect foil.
‘Toby etc.’ is personified by a personal touch, the design identity conceived with a certain Englishness and sense of simplicity. The size and position of the full-stop after ‘etc.’ was pondered over for some time. This nourished with strong coffee and homemade brownies. Kelvyn prepared a small collection of beautifully rendered test prints and Clarendon was chosen as the suitable logotype.
This particular font was created by Robert Besley in London in 1845 at Fann Street Foundry. It was the world’s first patented typeface and became popular in many parts of the world, especially in display applications such as posters, printed with wooden type.
The brand identity for ‘Toby etc’ included this website which Kelvyn Smith conceived as a simple grid of squares to function intuitively for the end user.”
I was born in Wrexham in 1969, the same year mankind made one giant leap on the moon and raised at my family home in Gresford, North Wales.
Gresford is a small Welsh village that remains close to my heart. Its church bell’s are one of the seven wonders of Wales. As a young boy I learned to ring them, being careful to let the ascending rope run freely through my hands, as holding on would elevate you somewhere up into the bell tower.
It was here in Gresford my creative inclinations began, learning to hand knit at 8 years of age. My first creations being humble peggy squares. I eventually progressed from plain stitch to purl. These were made in a New Zealand wool, hand-spun by my kiwi mum on her wooden Ashford spinning wheel. The wool bales had travelled 11,337 miles from mum’s family farm, ‘Ngaputahi Station’ located in the beautiful Pohangina valley.
I found this transformation from fluffy bale, to fine yarn, to knitted sample fascinating and it inspired me to design and make my first 3D object. Mum suggested something functional that our tea drinking family would benefit from. A Tea Cosy. I created it in pearl stitch with a striped design, using undyed natural wool colours. It felt a magical thing to do. It was the first object I had created with my own hands, with mum sharing her knowledge and encouraging me.
From these humble beginnings, I’d unknowingly sowed the seeds for a career in design. With hindsight I see how that tea cosy provided me with a critical design education aligned to the Bauhaus School of form and function. Its form being created to fit the tea pot, with slit holes for the handle and another for the spout to pour the tea and its function, being made in an insulating wool, to keep the tea warm in the teapot. A simple holistic design philosophy that would help guide my career.
After completing an Art foundation in Wrexham, North Wales, I pursued my fashion studies at Bournemouth College of Art & Design. This was during the early 1990’s, a time of great social change in Britain. Buoyed by the vibrant music industry, it was an exciting era to be studying art and design at college. Being passionate about clothing as a form of identity, I wrote a thesis on ‘Uniforms’ which I developed into a photographic collaboration with fellow art student Wolfgang Tillmans. Wolfgang’s stardom would rocket, going on to become a global acclaimed photographer after winning the Turner Prize.
During this period I met my future wife Marta Narbona who hailed from Valencia, Spain and who was also studying fashion. When Marta’s sister had a baby girl Patricia Ferran, she became the first newborn baby I held in my arms. I didn’t realise back then her desire to perform around the breakfast table at a very young age – finding myself part of her first audience – would one day lead to Patsy winning the Laurence Olivier’s actress of the Year in 2019.
After graduating from Bournemouth my ambition steered me towards the Royal College of Art in 1992, hoping to gain an MA in Fashion Menswear – the only postgraduate degree course in Menswear in the world at that time, offering just 7 places. I remember trudging on foot through two feet of snow, dropping my black portfolio off at a Georgian building on Queen St, in Kensington. As the large wooden doors opened I saw a vision of thousands of similar black portfolios stacked up in a room with a large vaulted ceiling and my heart quickly sunk.
Luckily I got in. Wolfgang’s photographs had given my portfolio a special set of wings.
Under the more intense spotlight of the RCA, I found himself oscillating in elevated fashion circles, with some of the world’s famous designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier and John Galliano popping in and out of our class. On my last day of graduation, when a tutor discovered I was Welsh, she left on my desk a poster titled ‘Welsh Fashion Awards’ with a £3,000 prize fund, which I quickly realised amounted to my student overdraft. It led to me showing my RCA graduate collection at the inaugural awards at the Savoy Hotel, London.
The following year I entered the completion again which I won, becoming the ‘Welsh Fashion Designer of The Year’. The awards judges were chaired by David Emanuel, well known for designing Princess Diana’s wedding dress, along with Shakira Caine, wife of actor Michael and Caroline Collis, the daughter of Joan Burstein (Mrs B) who co-founded Browns of South Molton St.
While receiving my prize on the catwalk I was asked by the host, TV presenter Jeff Banks, “Are you Ossie Clark’s secret love child?” This humorous encounter lead to me being filmed by the BBC for their populist programme ‘The Clothes Show’, a show which regularly attracted 8 million viewers and presented by Jeff.
The nationwide exposure I gained from becoming the Welsh Fashion Designer of The Year led to me being invited, along with Philip Tracy, to represent the British Fashion Industry at a prestigious promotional event ‘Action Japan’ held at the British Embassy in Tokyo, 1995. A Department of Trade & Industry funded the event. This exposure inspired the president of Sanyo Shokai (Burberry’s licensing partner) to make an approach to license the Toby Clark label in Japan. It was quite an honour being a designer just 6 months out of college.
The increased interest in my designs helped establish my own label TOBY CLARK, which I sold to leading stores around the world. Notably the Bursteins, owners of Browns of London, the Pressmans, owners of Barneys New York, Tom Marotta, the Vice President of Saks 5th Avenue, Sam Sugure the president of Anglobal, Japan, Angela Quantrell, fashion director of Liberty of London and Shinsegae of Korea, who advised the Toby Clark label was the number #3 best seller behind Jil Sander and Romeo Gigli. Suzy Menkes fashion editor of The Herald Tribune coined my label as ‘tailoring with a light hand’ in her London Fashion Week round up.
During this period I won a number of awards, including Welsh Young Entrepreneur of the Year, the silver medal at the British Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards and the UKFT Newcomers Award for Fashion Exports, presented to me by its patron HRH Princess Anne.
My RCA graduate collection had been inspired by School uniforms, which would prompt a 6 page editorial on ‘School Fashion’ in the launch edition of Arena Homme Plus+ which went on to become an influential style magazine around the world. This school fashion editorial was styled by David Bradshaw and photographed by Paolo Roversi. This was quite mind blowing as a young designer as Paolo was an idol of mine.
In 1997 for the launch of launch of London Fashion Week, the Daily Telegraph’s Fashion Editor Hilary Alexander, featured a full page editorial on the Toby Clark label . The article proclaimed me as ‘the new Jean Muir’. I found it quite unsettling as during the interview Hilary had told me everyones saying it and such a comparison would be the death of me. The team at Jean Muir were understandably not happy either, as Jean, an icon of British fashion had sadly died a few months earlier. I quickly learned from Hilary that some journalists see ‘the story’ and their newspaper sales as more important than the individuals they exploit.
Following this period I founded the design consultancy Clark & Narbona with my Spanish wife Marta. My first project was an invitation by Roger Saul the founder of Mulberry to help relaunch Mulberry menswear at Pitti Uomo, Florence. This proved a stimulating challenge.
At the start of the millennium and having always admired Margaret Howell, I was fortunate to receive an opportunity to be appointed Margaret’s head mens designer. I spent 12 years with Margaret helping her establish the Mens division as an international brand. At that time the total group revenue was around £70M a year, with 10% generated in Europe and 90% in Japan. The MH company being owned by Anglobal Ltd, a division of Sanei-International Co Ltd. with TSI Holdings the parent company.
My creative steer on Margaret Howell’s Menswear would lead to MH receiving three nominations at the British Fashion Awards for Menswear Designer Of The Year. This period included projects for the Japanese company MUJI and designing the Uniform for the V&A Museum in South Kensington. During my time designing for Margaret, I was interviewed by Alain De Botton for his book titled ‘The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work’. This was an interesting experience as Alain seemed as interested in my thoughts of the human figure without clothing, as my articulation of the importance of the shape and cut of a collar on a man’s shirt.
At Margaret Howell I met my current fiancé Maree Ballantine a New Zealander and I then re-branded my design company to Toby etc.
Following my period at Margaret Howell I was approached to become a co-Founder of Blackhorse Lane Ateliers. This remains the first and only Factory brand in London making selvedge denim. With a circular approach we developed a local allotment to grow Japanese indigo plants. The founding methodology incorporated a factory space with chefs, weavers, dyers, leather makers and emerging craftsmen as part of a holistic community-focused enterprise. It was considered by industry opinion formers to be a game changer for manufacturing in Britain.
Around 2015, I started to consult for a small cashmere company in New Zealand who farm their own exclusive breed of cashmere goats, with a little knitting factory nestled under the coastal hills, where the goats freely roam. Having worked extensively in industry, within large global supply chains, I felt attracted to this small single source brand who could grow their own materials within their own locality.
In 2020, during the outbreak of the global pandemic ‘covid-19’, I sensed a moment for change in the world and I started to outwardly reject clothing consumerism. For environmental reasons, I started wearing the same clothes every day. I carefully observed each item as it changed state and eventually wore out and I then patch repaired the broken fibres. This Same Clothes Everyday became a personal manifesto and a project admired by Lidewij Edelkoort who invited me to be an ambassador for her World Hope Forum.
During this same year I became an Ambassador for the Campaign For Wool (NZ)
As a small lagniappe to thank you for reading my biography, here is a link to one of my favourite songs when I was a teenager, back in the glorious 1980’s.
Over the years the creative projects that have felt really meaningful to me have often been part of a collaborative process.
While each and every day we all collaborate with one other, in some form or other, either willingly or reluctantly; for creatives the true art of collaboration is instigated by a mutual respect. A desire to fully express your own ideals in harmony with your collaborator. This often requires intuition and sensitivity to create extract a balanced viewpoint.
Successful creative collaborations don’t plagiarise one another’s dna, neither seeking to profiteer or replicate old ground. They create new original work together, that without such collaboration, would not be possible to achieve.
It is, in the truest sense, a meeting of minds.
The creation of this website – Toby etc – prompted me, for the first time, to document my collaboration with Wolfgang Tillmans, the photographer and fine artist. It occurred while we were art students together at Bournemouth in 1991. It remains a fond memory of a true collaborative process.
At that time Wolfgang was an aspiring photographic artist, who along with myself, was studying at Bournemouth and Poole College of Art & Design. I enrolled onto a Sportswear Design course, which was the only course in the world delivering this niche specialism. Wolfgang was studying photography under the tutelage of Tony Maestri. The photography course had a worldwide reputation and attracted international students, unlike mine which was new and unproven.
Photography has always felt an important stimulus to my work. So when enrolling on a Fashion Sportswear course at Bournemouth, I was aware of the college’s reputation for film and photography. It was widely considered one of, if not, the leading photography course in the world at that time. Hence it attracted some of the world’s finest young talent.
I was also aware Nick Knight had recently graduated from Bournemouth’s photography course and was already art directing Yohji Yamamoto’s campaigns. Considering the fashion world was still waking up to the avant-garde Japanese trio of: Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo and Issey Miyake, it seemed an amazingly swift ascendency for Nick, to have secured such a high profile fashion campaign, in such a short space of time. It made me think that his raw talent had been carefully nurtured at Bournemouth.
The collaboration with Wolfgang came about when I was preparing my thesis on the subject of Uniform. I’d always loved creative writing and still find it a cathartic process as an artist. Continually editing to find the words with exactly the write fit.
Uniform is an area of clothing that I still feel repetitively drawn to. Am fascinated by its uniformity, its restriction, familiarity, empowerment and sense of belonging, its egalitarianism and sheer functional utility.
For some, it’s restriction and controlling framework creates fear and a sense of anarchy to rebel against. For others (and I would place myself in this camp…) it’s a creative challenge to figure out how to express your own personal individuality, within the confines of a rigid rule book. For others a uniform is a safe haven or a blanket of pride they enjoy conforming to.
At secondary school my curiosity around regulations, led to the discovery, my grey lambswool crew-neck sweater had the ability, for some unknown reason, to prove less antagonistic to school rules (stipulating a bottle green polyester v-neck jumper) than the black v-neck polyester jumpers that saw my classmates sent home or placed in detention.
At conception, I envisioned my Uniform thesis to be accompanied by a series of portrait images. This led me into the photography department and perhaps with some luck, to bump into a young 22-year-old Wolfgang Tillmans. It was Tony Maestri who recommended Wolfgang to me. After our brief chat, I sensed Wolfgang shared the same interest in Uniform as a creative subject. We also seemed to share similar aspirations to do really meaningful work, that could stand up in its own right, beyond the internal boundaries of academia.
My invitation to Wolfgang was very simple. To capture and record the subjects I would curate. Allowing him full artistic interpretation of the final image. I would select the subjects and do the interview and prepare the written narrative for each portrait. Wolfgang would place the subject in their exacting location, within their familiar setting. In doing so, creating the atmosphere for each portrait. Wolfgang would also print and choose the final images to his own exacting requirements.
There were 10 subjects; Road Workers, School Girl, Nun, Hip Hop Artist, Funeral Director, Air Hostess, Student Photographer, Digger Driver, Chef de Cuisine and Hotel Doorman. Each one offering a different perspective of how uniforms interplayed within their daily lives and how the world in turn viewed them when they wore it.
To my mind, this curated work was about the ‘Uniform of Life’ and life is represented through the subject’s occupations. The Nun represented the start of life through birth, the Funeral Director the end of life, the School Children the value of knowledge during early beginnings. The Chef our reliance on food as humans to survive a sutainable life form. The Hip Hop Artist the powerful role and therapy of music to our existence. The Air Hostess the impact of long haul travel, as a powerful social transformation in world culture. The student photographer with a camera, the reflection of life itself and the Road Workers (Wolfgang’s favourite image) represented the ‘work’ that we all do. The work we do to distract ourselves and provide our sustainable income and sense of purpose between birth and death.
Each time Wolfgang unveiled a portrait, it was carefully presented to me in a secure slip folder, followed by a moment of studious reflection and then Wolfgang’s beaming smile. Even then as an art student there was a sense of Wolfgang being quite aware of the value of his work and a sense of carefully controlled release. There was no confetti approach. He made just two prints of each subject, keeping one for himself.
Wolfgang and I seemed to work well together and later that year Wolfgang approached me and asked if he could take photographs of my own clothing designs, which I was making as a fashion student. My final collection was an interpretation of Cassock dresses of Catholic Clergy. I was inspired by the film ‘The Godfather Part III’ by Francis Ford Coppola and became interested in the powerful immagery of Ecclesiastical Dress as a Uniform.
Wolfgang photographed my collection as a campaign format, styled on the house model of Japanese designer Matsuda. This model was Roger Cook who I had found having been featured in L’Uomo Vogue. I sent a hand-written note to Roger and we agreed to meet at the Photographers Gallery in London. Roger was a striking but unusual model. His modelling assignments were fulfilled as a sideline, while professor of Fine Art History at Reading University. He also acted in Derek Jarman’s film The Garden. Roger is now a visiting lecturer at the Royal Academy of Arts.
My recollection of collaborating with Wolfgang was his incredibly well drilled observation, his over arching confidence and technical control with a camera. Along with the meaningful embrace he gave to each subject. Even as an art student he seemed to possess the intent of a fine artist, creating art with a purpose, rather than just clicking on a camera button, which perhaps some more traditional photographers do.
Wolfgang possessed great technical aptitude, with total control and confidence in his photographic toolkit. He seemed to have the ability to capture a powerful image in a blink of an eye and appeared so instinctive when framing a subject. He made it look easy, but of course it never was. To me his most endearing facet was discovering his single minded confidence was balanced with empathy and humility.
His desire to handprint each image, added an extra layer of artistic control over the process. He seemed to be motivated by his inquisitiveness of life. With a burning desire to reproduce specific colour tones in a printed image, to create his own signature as an artist and in a manner of work that was not being done at the time. He almost had the impression of a photographic scientist with a microscopic lense, who could climb inside the printed image.
Am quite certain it was Wolfgang’s photographic prints in my portfolio that helped me secure a place at the Royal College Of Art. I was the first ever student from the Fashion School of Bournemouth to be accepted into the RCA. And still feel very proud of that. This opened the door for other fashion students at the college to follow in future years.
I’d made the transition from a Higher National Diploma course straight onto a Masters Degree course. It was a significant leap, especially as the RCA’s Fashion Menswear course at that time, was the only specialist Menswear postgraduate degree course in the world. My class intake was limited to 7 students. I remember trudging through two feet of snow in Kensington to drop of my portfolio in Queen’s Gate, inside a vast Georgian room, with high ceilings. When I pressed the bell and the door opened it looked like a sea of 10,000 black portfolios. I felt resigned to being a needle in a haystack.
At the interview, the Fashion professor John Miles mentioned he thought the photography in my portfolio was outstanding and looked like a campaign by an international brand. He said it was rare to see in a student’s portfolio. I guess that was Wolfgang but maybe Wolfgang had also found me for a reason too.
The next year Wolfgang wrote to me to ask how I was doing at the RCA and to tell me he was excited to have secured a commission with i-D publication. That early work with i-D provided the exposure that started the Tillmans ripple effect as an artist. With his cult reputation growing rapidly as the years passed by. Ten years later in 2000, at the dawn of the new millennium, Wolfgang won the prestigious Turner Prize, becoming the first photographer to receive the award as an artist and challenging the boundaries between art and photography.
The creation of this website ‘Toby Etc.’ has by chance, coincided with the major Tillmans 2017 exhibition at the Tate Modern.
Though our collaboration on Uniforms, has to this day, never been published or exhibited, a tutor at Bournemouth thought the Uniform project was so good we should approach the Sunday Times Magazine. In the end I decided not to pursue it. So the work, transcripts and prints would remain lying under my bed for over 20 years. Recently I decided to hang the portraits to recognise my fondness and memories of the work we did together. I did this in keeping with Wolfgang’s own style with non hierarchical hanging.
The fact Wolfgang’s work has achieved world wide attention doesn’t surprise me. Real talent will always rise to the top and fly free. I didn’t know until recently Wolfgang exhibited one of the Uniform images ~ Road workers ~ at his first solo exhibition at the Daniel Buchholz gallery in Cologne in 1993, recreated at Frieze Art Fair in 2016.
I do recall his fondness of the Road Workers image and can still remember us being there on that roundabout. Like much of life’s best art, it happened impromptuly on the side of the road, while we were outside the college returning from another shoot. I never imagined then that twenty eight years later this same photograph would be sold as a signed Tillmans artwork through Sothebys ………….. Sothebys Tillmans Auction
Considering Wolfgang’s methodological archivist approach and his careful control over release of his work; am sure despite the huge volume of work he has created since 1990, he will still have the Uniform images chronologically listed in his archive.
26 years later, to thank Wolfgang for the work we did together, send him a pair of Blackhorse Lane Atelier Jeans a brand I had co-founded. These were manufactured in Walthmastow, London. Being aware of Wolfgang’s love of East London the style I sent him was E5. We created our selvedge jeans with London postcodes, with each style created conceived according to the social demographic identified with each zonal area. As a brand identifier it was an interesting experiment.
I was aware Wolfgang was a devotee of Levis jeans. His regular wardrobe staple being his T-shirt and Jeans combination. Though with my knowledge of the clothing industry, I knew Wolfgang’s Levis jeans would have been manufactured thousands of miles away. So it felt meaningful to be sending him a pair of selvedge denim jeans crafted one at a time and locally made less than 5 miles from his own London studio.
It felt particularly fitting to be sending Wolfgang a pair of jeans. An item of clothing entrenched in our global culture and an essential ‘Uniform of Liberty’ around the world. We had thus come full circle.
Wolfgang returned an electronic note to thank me, together with a selfie photograph wearing our Atelier jeans…
You can view on this link, Wolfgang being interviewed by Lou Stoppard of SHOWstudio. This includes a question I posed to Wolfgang about Bournemouth and our Uniforms collaboration.
Toby Clark studied at the Royal College of Art in London, graduating in 1993 with a Master’s Degree in Fashion Menswear. This initiated the creation of the ‘Toby Clark’ label which won a number of high profile awards – ‘Welsh Designer Of The Year’ 1995 and achieved recognition amongst the fashion industry’s cognoscenti and opinion formers. The label retailed at some of the world’s leading stores. Barney NY, Browns of South Molton St and Anglobal, Japan. In 1997 Toby incorporated a design consultancy business which has gone on to span three decades, successfully completing projects for a number of highly admired international brands. In particular Toby’s decade of work for Margaret Howell received three nominations from the British Fashion Council for the title of ‘British Menswear Designer Of The Year’.
‘Toby etc.’ maintains a holistic approach to design consultancy. Projects are tailored to suit each client and promote empathic design thinking. Project solutions are attuned to the client’s objectives, to enhance their brand reputation and appeal to their valued consumers. Toby values originality and authentic products. He strives to fulfil his client’s expectations by creating bespoke creative concepts, specific to each company and by going the extra mile. To protect his reputation as a specialist in the industry, he carefully selects the projects he undertakes and the brands he engages with. Utilising his knowledge and experience to help strengthen a company’s brand culture and their core DNA. Toby believes in the principles of kaizen 改善, by building lasting relationships that maintain consistency and by building momentum through continual incremental improvements.
We adapt our consultancy service to suit the client’s individual brand culture and offer a multi-faceted service that spans Retail, Wholesale, Online e-Commerce and Mail Order. Our portfolio of clients include premium international brands with a high profile in the lifestyle and luxury market sectors. We have provided consultancy roles in a variety of guises, including Design Engineering, Brand Identity, Brand Strategy, Creative Direction, Product Development, Manufacture & Sourcing, Styling, Catwalk Shows & Exhibitions, Brand Campaigns and Strategic Reports to Management etc. Toby Clark is a skilled practitioner of clothing creation and a multidisciplinary design thinker. He has considerable knowledge of Brand Strategy for premium brands expanding into global markets. ‘Toby etc.’ is happy to work confidentially for our clients when requested to do so, although is unable to work exclusively for anyone client.
– Licensee & Trademarks
TOBY etc. is experienced working with a brand’s Licensee and in developing the brand and trademark in overseas territories.
To carefully observe the smallest of details, as they often resonate the loudest.
– Terms of Business
All consultancy work carried out by, or under the responsibility of Toby Clark / TOBY etc. is subject to our terms of business. These terms are shown below. The expanded version is available on request. This may be varied (in whole or in part) with any proposal or subsequent agreement, provided it is agreed in writing and signed by both parties.
Copyright is reserved to Toby Clark in all proposals, reports, surveys and other documents produced or commissioned by Toby Clark under or in connection with any agreement with a client. No such document shall be copied or published (in whole or in part) or disseminated to any third party without the written permission of Toby Clark. Permission will not be unreasonably withheld or withdrawn provided in all cases that Toby Clark is satisfied that the copying or publication will not cause offence to or infringe the rights of any third party and provided further that Toby Clark is satisfied that such copying or publication will be of the whole of the document concerned and not of a part or selection there from.
All Proposals, reports, surveys and other documents produced or commissioned by Toby Clark will be treated as confidential to the client concerned and will not be shown or passed to any third party without permission of the client.
– Sub Contractors
Toby Clark will take all reasonable steps to meet the wishes of clients in the selection of sub-contractors and associates but reserves the right (unless otherwise required in writing by the client in its acceptance of a Proposal) to employ, discharge or replace at any time any sub-contractor or associate in carrying out the work for clients. References in a Proposal to the utilisation of the services of a particular person as sub-contractor or associate shall imply only that Toby Clark has consulted and intends to employ or retain such person but shall not imply that contractual arrangements have been made for such employment or retention.
– Force Majeure
If, after the acceptance of a Proposal, the rights of Toby Clark or of the client under the agreement are wholly or substantially diminished or the performance thereof rendered wholly or substantially impossible by reason of force majeure, then the obligations of both parties shall cease forthwith except that the client shall pay to Toby Clark all fees and expenses then owing (including all the expenses of or caused by or arising out of such termination) together with a sum equal to whichever is the lesser of the fees remaining to be paid thereafter or a proportion of the total fees equivalent to sixty days’ work calculated pro rata against the total time estimated for the project.
All consultancy projects undertaken by ‘TOBY etc.’ are agreed in principal with the client company as a ‘Heads Of Agreement’ document. The work is undertaken after sight of a ‘Contract For Services’ to be drawn up by the client company and signed by both parties. All agreements relating to the copyright and intellectual property are contained within the contract. Verbal agreements are honoured and client confidentialities always respected.
– Acceptance Of Proposals
Proposals submitted by Toby Clark shall, unless otherwise stated therein, remain open for acceptance for sixty days from the date of submission to the client. Acceptance shall be valid only if made in writing signed by or on behalf of the client. Variation of the terms of a Proposal shall be effective only if specified in the written acceptance.
– Commencement of Work
Unless otherwise stated in the Proposal, the client shall take all steps to enable Toby Clark / TOBY etc. begin its work in accordance with the dates outlined in the Proposal. The client will make available or place at Toby Clark’s disposal all information facilities and personnel reasonably required to carry out the work, and generally will co-operate in all reasonable ways.
Toby Clark / TOBY etc. employs the methods, procedures, techniques, personnel and sources of information set out in the Proposal, but reserve the right to vary these as necessary or desirable in order to achieve the aims of the project.
– Service Fees
We aspire to provide our clients with a service that represents ‘value for money’ and believe our reputation is built on this. Our fees are not charged by the hour and we provide goodwill by going the extra mile. We enjoy working with small companies as much as large organisations and understand the investment in our services is subject to each company’s structure, policy and budget. The consultancy fee to engage Toby Clark is negotiable and agreed for each project. Work is normally undertaken on a fixed-fee basis according to deliverables in the project. For an indication of fees, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org This to establish his international market rate for full-time ongoing consultancy projects or for one off ‘single-day’ consultancy engagements. All expenses incurred in the provision of services to the client, such as travel to overseas locations, airfares, hotels & accommodation costs, etc. are agreed in advance with the client and invoiced together with the consultant’s service fee.
– Payment Of Project Fees
Payments are structured according to each client company with different options available for remuneration:
— Fixed fee for Project – paid in instalments at key completion stages of project.
— Fixed fee for Seasonal Collections – paid in monthly instalments to cover each six-month period.
— Royalty fee on Net Sales accruing from project – Negotiable and based on target sales growth.
— New business start-ups – Some clients with smaller investment budgets may prefer to offer remuneration with shareholding in the company gifted, in lieu of paying a consultancy fee. All such agreements are considered on their own merits.
Payments from UK based companies are accepted by electronic bank transfer, cheque or bank standing order and paid into a UK business bank account. BACS details are stated on the invoice. Fees will be invoiced in GBP £ pounds sterling – currently not subject to VAT – with full payment due 15 days from sight of invoice. Payments from NZ based companies are accepted by electronic bank transfer, cheque or bank standing order and paid into a NZ business bank account. BACS details are stated on the invoice. Fees will be invoiced in NZ Dollars $ NZD – currently not subject to GST – with full payment due 15 days from sight of invoice.
– Termination Or Breach By Client
If, after acceptance of a Proposal, the client shall terminate or be in serious breach (after repeated warnings) of its agreement with Toby Clark / TOBY etc, or act in such a manner as to render the performance of the agreement by Toby Clark wholly or substantially impossible, then Toby Clark’s obligations under the agreement shall cease forthwith. In such a case the client shall immediately pay to Toby Clark all fees and expenses (including all the expenses of, or caused by, or arising out of, such termination) and other sums then owing to Toby Clark under the agreement together with a sum equal to the whole of the fees thereafter remaining to be paid under the agreement.
– Contractual Limits
All work, forecasts and recommendations in any proposal, report or letter are made in good faith and on the basis of the information before Toby Clark at the time. No statement in any Proposal, report or letter is to be deemed to be in any circumstances a representation, undertaking, warranty or contractual condition. Toby Clark shall not be liable to the client for any indirect or consequential loss or damage. The total liability of Toby Clark to the client shall not exceed the value of the contract. This amount includes any and all claims combined, including any costs and lawyers’ fees awarded.
If any dispute or difference shall arise between Toby Clark and a client concerning the meaning or effect of these terms of business or of any agreement between them to which these terms apply, then if the same cannot be settled amicably it shall be referred to the arbitration of a single Arbitrator, to be agreed by the parties or in default of agreement to be appointed by the President for the time being of the Law Society, London. The costs of any such arbitration shall be in the discretion of the Arbitrator whose award will be considered and taken by the parties as final and binding.
Inspiration is a stimulating method of creative motivation. To be inspired is to dream and to want to change the world in some small way.
All creatives fondly remember moments they felt really inspired as art students. Especially discovery of another artist, whose work directly inspires their own. It’s a rewarding part of the creative process. In my case, inspiration is derived from all walks of life. It’s based on a methodology of eclecticism. Sometimes my inspiration is quite literal in the form of an object or an environment and how it makes me feel. Other times it might be reading a manuscript printed by a 1960’s typewriter. Step forward… William S. Burroughs.
The purpose of allocating a page of this website to inspiration, is to acknowledge its role as a critical part of the creative process. It’s also to share an image that currently inspires me, together with a short explanatory description. I intended it to be a slowly evolving showcase that I would update and replace from time to time. Not dissimilar to Eno Goldfinger’s carefully curated wall of art at his home in 2 Willow road, Hampstead.
However I love this image and Marti so much, I have decided to leave it here permanently. It’s a digital reproduction of a gelatin silver print of 2 ceramic jugs thrown by NZ potter Barry Brickell and photographed by my dearly departed friend Marti Freidlander. Marti was an incredibly talented NZ photographer with a unique eye and charisma and highly decorated in New Zealand. I think of Marti as a true artist and admire her greatly. Not just for her extreme talent and passion as a photographer, but because she was incredibly generous, brave and thoughtful, with a zest for life that made her fun and charismatic to be around. I suspect this image was taken circa 1974. I can somehow sense this, even though there is very little to date the photograph.
I love the tactile quality of the jugs and the suggestion of a finished work still in progress. The slightly forward tool drawer suggesting a craftsman of refined skill and knowledge. A craftsman who has mastered their craft and able to assemble an art form with their own two hands. The light passing through the glass window pane provides a suitable sensitivity, which gives the jugs a sense of provenance and title. The angle of the interlocking handles makes them appear almost entwined. It inspires me to learn to throw pottery and I smile when imagining the conversation on that day between Marti and Barry.
Instagram is undoubtedly the most influential image creating platform of the 21st century. With more than 1 billion users worldwide, for many users it has become an intrinsic tool of their daily life.
Its influence upon society is unparalleled, with a platform of connectivity driven by the biggest archive of digital photographs in the world, already exceeding 40 billion images.
Having established itself as a universal tool, it’s widespread popularity has created a new set of social paradigms for both social engagement and commercial business activity.
With images shared directly from one hand held device to another, its immediacy has created a level of digital voyeurism. While the facility to enhance each image through digital filters takes us a step closer to a world of virtual reality and A.I. technology, leaving a powerful impression on the viewer and enabling a conflict between illusion and reality.
While it remains an intriguing phenomenon, the advance of Instagram together with its omnipresent desire to record our every movement as part of a digital revolution, might also be viewed as slightly unsettling.
The long-term social effects of globalising a once private inner sanctum is still relatively unchartered…
“As a creative I’ve always felt it important to engage with all types of communication technology. I also believe in the principle of sharing authentic creativity within an open public platform.
I prefer to do this in a quiet way and use Instagram to connect with like-minded creatives. I do not seek or chase followers and believe in organic discovery and connectivity. This is the reason I never use #hashtags.
I like reality, which is the reason I never photoshop or filter my images. To me there is an art and skill in capturing a moment of reality. Natural daylight is our powerful ally if we learn how to use her.
My images are inspired by all forms of creations. I tend to be altruistic and seek to promote the creative works of others, as altruism feels important to my life journey. My instagram feed features a myriad of creators who inspire me and who all channel the Light. ”
Please click the link below if you wish to be taken to my Instagram:
In our modern age of digital screens, which creates a physical barrier and vies for our attention, finding the luxury of time, to invest in conversation, sharing time together, to laugh, giggle or cry and enjoy one another’s company, is often one of the biggest challenges we face.
I admire my friends, not because of what they do, or their status or success, but the way they choose to live their lives.
Self-awareness and the ability to show empathy towards others, are aspects that are important to me. My attraction to my friends is always driven by their kindness, thoughtfulness and humour. These I feel are the best foundation blocks and the elixir of life.
I feel especially lucky to work in the creative industries; as creative people are often extra sensory and imaginative. Imagination is one of the greatest facets of a creative thinker and my true friends all possess this hallmark.
This section of the website provides opportunity to share the work of my friends and also other creatives who inspire me and who I admire. There is no running order, just a list of very talented people who do something exceptionally well with grace and humility.
Kelvyn Laurence Smith
Site Access /
When you visit this website you are given a limited license to access and use the information for your personal use. All content, trademarks, branding and logos which are used on this website are either owned by TOBY etc. or we have a license to use them.
Your access to this website does not license you to use any of the content, text, images, trademarks, branding or logos without our written permission.
If you submit any comments, feedback, ideas or suggestions you acknowledge that TOBY etc. reserves the right to use this content. You are also responsible for any content you provide such as its legality, originality and copyright.
By accessing this website you agree to indemnify and hold TOBY etc. and Toby Clark unaccountable of any and all claims, actions, damages/loss, expenses and costs including legal fees arising from or in connection with the use of the TOBY etc. website.
By using this site, you signify your understanding and agreement to comply with the terms & conditions of use.
If you would like to contact Toby to discuss a creative project or seek to engage the services of TOBY etc. please make contact by e-mail in the first instance.
If you would like to invite Toby to talk at a public event, or visit an educational institution, please kindly contact Toby directly. There is no PR representative …
“I believe in a personal touch as the best line of defence.”
If you are a student and seek some career guidance, mentoring or type of referral, you will be pleased that Toby has a philanthropic heart and will do his best to help you.
To contact Toby: