Toby Clark is a Welsh born fashion designer. He is also an artist, writer, eco activist, brand strategist, mentor, knitter and human strategist. He is the founder of Toby etc. a bespoke ideas company, quietly creating international consumers for a portfolio of creative brands in New Zealand, all deeply connected to nature.
Widely experienced in the fashion & textiles industry, Toby’s expertise has been sought after by a number of high profile international brands. His design creations for Margaret Howell received three nominations at the British Fashion Awards for ‘British Menswear Designer Of The Year.’
A specialist in his field, Toby is a proven strategist in sustainable luxury goods and also the development of specialist producers into cult Factory Brands – selling direct to consumer.
The ‘etc’ in Toby etc. is an abbreviation of the latin term Et cetera. The expansive definition of this well known term means ‘and the rest’, or ‘other similar things, of a similar class’. Its usage here indicates Toby’s track record of collaborating across different creative disciplines, with a variety of media platforms and across the wider creative industries.
Toby is a quiet activist of environmental causes and writes widely, recently authoring ‘The Provenance Of Fashion’ published by Bloomsbury. He is curating a book title ‘FANDOM – The Blessed Curse’ with writer Paolo Hewitt and photographer Ian Macdonald, featuring the personal narratives and portraits of British Football Fans.
Toby’s principal desire … when couched within a capitalist consumer culture, is to act thoughtfully and to create meaningful work, with an ethical purpose and positive impact on our planet’s finite resources.
The studio of Toby etc. welcomes creative proposals from far and wide, carefully selecting the projects and clients it partners with.
Please review the Biography section to uncover a full background of Toby’s career.
A company profile and curriculum vitae is available on request.
“I think of myself as an activist of beautifully crafted objects and a fashion philosopher of sorts. I pursue honest design and seek to create and share products that channel the Light, with or without commercial intent. I believe in love and harmony and an environmentally sound footprint that is deeply rooted in nature. I enact this philosophy across a broad range of creative disciplines.
My career has tended to be entrepreneurial and supported with innovative thinking. Prompting the creation and growth of niche products and niche lifestyle brands, supported with original ideas.
A sense of purpose is an important motivation in my work and I seek out like-minded brands and people who share this thinking. I prefer to focus on the social benefits that design brings to others, rather than any singular quest for profitable gain.
Throughout my childhood, I made jigsaw puzzles. These tiny fragments conceal a greater form and require some dedication to search for tiny clues of colour, shape or object. I found I could do this easily.
This early fascination with jigsaws has directly influenced my design thinking and steers my free philanthropic mentorship. I tend to view the world as a macro jigsaw puzzle. I enjoy connecting people, brands and organisations together, which feels to me a naturally intuitive process. These insights help me visualise opportunities and perspectives that others may not have fully realised.
I value authenticity and integrity over imitation. So I feel more attracted to like minded people who possess a natural incidental style, rather than those who adopt and chase the latest consumer trends.
I fully endorse holistic design-thinking. Concepts that connect the people with their place. During the creation phase I will consider the wider environmental responsibilities and social impact of each supply chain. I strive to reduce the need to discard or throwaway products of mass consumption, simply by not being part of that type of development process.
My approach is to observe people, organisations and brands carefully and quietly. I then find meaningful solutions. The simpler the better.
I identify like-minded brands who create beautifully crafted products that are human-centered and empathic, with consideration for the end-user and our planet. I love both Japanese and Maori cultures and admire their thinking around nature and longevity.
My principal desire is to help instigate transparency and instil progressive change in the fashion industry. One of my overriding concerns is the nature of our global supply chains, who conceal how branded goods are processed with the less than ethical vendor brands. Often many employ a blind moral code in respect of our planet’s finite resources or equally how their textile workers are treated in the process.
I am passionate about ‘localism’ in business models and seek projects that bring industry closer to nature and nature closer to industry. I consider this a type of urbanite activism, intending to benefit our social wellbeing in cities and in rural areas around the world.
Along with my own mother, my life teacher was Myra Love, the jazz singer, Rarotongan Princess and Maori Queen of the East End of London. Myra taught me that “knowledge is power, that’s why I’ve put more East End kids through university than I’ve had hot dinners.” Myra’s hero was Tony Benn MP. My g4 grandfather William Beetham the portrait painter painted the portrait of Wi Tako Ngata the Maori Chief of Wellington who was Myra’s own g3 grandfather. That is how I found Myra. Though diligent research.
I am most fascinated by Tuataras, the only species to survive when the dinosaurs died out. Born with their third eye for extra periphery vision and their hearts beating just once per minute, they are the only true survivors on this earth, of those who have a beating heart.
I believe in reincarnation and in the after life. In the longevity of spirits and in all faiths and in all religions, with an overarching god of light. I believe in the power of doing good on this earth and in karma. I study the works and philosophy of the Dalai Lama.
From a spiritual context my guide is Indian guru Maharshi Amara who is helping me to Channel the Light.”
Brands & Projects
“Having worked with a variety of influential brands and organisations during my career, I think of myself as a commercial artist responding creatively to the challenges that each brand project brings.
In my consultantcy role I careful observe brand culture, taking a step back and benefitting from an independent, helicopter perspective.
The ability to effect purposeful change, sometimes requires me to step into the heart of a brand’s organisational structure. By playing a direct role in their company culture.
A key aspect of a consultants role is learning how to stimulate positive change and improvements without damaging brand culture. To achieve this I try to identify like-minded teams, who share the same desire to build creative, harmonious brand environments. Cohesive teams are strengthened by mutual commitment, making the team ethos an effective strategy to achieve reliable brand growth.
It’s also helpful to identify and understand a brand’s ‘comfort zone’. This is unique to each brand and their management team. It is ultimately based on individual perceptions and the willingness to grow and adapt to new ideas. It’s an important element to recognise and understand as a consultant, as it is likely to impact any push on innovation or significant change to the brand culture.
Am grateful to all my clients who have invested in my services and given me the opportunity and autonomy to work closely on their brand objectives. Achieving a sense of autonomy is often key to successful consultancy projects and this requires trust and confidence. These are vital elements when seeking to deliver the best possible results. I always value and appreciate such trust and support extended to me by my clients. Thank you!
Most of all, I believe the role of a consultant works best, when it directly benefits the end-consumer. To complete a circular process.
It is often forgotten that the continued loyalty of consumers is actually what drives a sustainable business.”
2018 – Present
2018 – 2019
2017 – 2018
2015 – Present
Tolaga Bay Cashmere
2015 – 2016
Blackhorse Lane Ateliers
2014 – 2015
2011 – 2012
1999 – 2012
1998 – 1999
1997 – 1998
1993 – 1997
2017 – 2017
Fine Arts College
2015 – 2016
2015 – 2016
2014 – 2015
Provenance of Fashion
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 design & brand strategy company.
An established clothing designer and brand strategist, Toby Clark undertakes unique projects for leading international brands, working alongside highly respected opinion formers. Toby believes in doing things slowly with crafted care, by championing a commitment to quality, 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 key values of authentic brands which develop into strategic armoury when building brand culture and brand reputation.
Toby’s intrinsic approach avoids cutting corners and negating cheap fast solutions, preferring to undertake detailed observation and wide reaching research for all projects. This enables him to work closely alongside his clients to create beautifully crafted products that attract loyal and discerning consumers.
Toby uses his vintage sheepdog whistle as the perfect symbol to represent the ethos, identity and brand values for Toby etc.
“My little red sheepdog whistle was given to me in 1978 by my NZ grandfather Jack Ramsden, a well respected farmer and sheepdog trialer.
As young kids, he taught my brother David 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 really blew my mind. I love how this small, basic, whistle instrument can send detailed signals to a far away sheepdog and represent a lifetime’s skill and knowledge.”
When conceiving the brand identity for ‘Toby etc.’, it felt important to Toby 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 busy printing alliteration art, with a mug of coffee to hand and I recall whistling away. I was intrigued by his approach to font, type and letterforms, the embodiment of an artisanal master-craftsmen.
From my own observations, branding is often distorted by the wag of a dog’s tail, rather than focusing on the character of the dog itself. So I wanted to commission an artist and practitioner of three-dimensional letterforms, with a real ‘hands-on’ approach. As in a traditional foundry, rather than appointing a digital brand studio, where 21st C creatives are often absorbed by flat digital screens. Kelvyn proved to be the perfect foil.
‘Toby etc.’ personifies a personal touch and the design identity was 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, nourished with strong coffee and Maree’s homemade brownies. Kelvyn duly prepared a small collection of beautifully rendered test prints and Clarendon was chosen as the ideal 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.
We concluded the brand identity for ‘Toby etc’ through this digital website which Mr. Smith conceived as a simple grid of squares to function intuitively for the end user.”
I started knitting at 8 years of age at my family home in Gresford, North Wales. My first creations were small, knitted, peggy squares, crafted in plain stitch. These were made in New Zealand wool, hand-spun by my kiwi mother Adrienne on an Ashford wooden spinning wheel. These natural, undyed, wool bales had travelled 11,357 miles from the family sheep farm, ‘Ngaputahi station’ in the beautiful Pohangina valley, NZ. As a child my Mum used to swim in the rivers there, which carried crystal clear water.
The NZ sheep wool felt incredibly soft and comforting to me.
At 10 years of age and fascinated by knitting as a creative and transformative process, I asked mum If I could create a 3D object. I was thinking a jumper I was designing with pencil crayons. Though mum suggested I design and knit a more humble functional object that all the family would benefit from: a Tea Cosy. This I created in pearl stitch, in a striped design, using natural wool colours. It required a hole to access the handle and hole to access the spout. It was a thrilling thing to do. Mum helped me along the way. She shared her knowledge.
From such humble creative beginnings, I had unknowingly sowed the seeds for a career in design and which I now realise aligned to the Bauhaus School’s principles of form and function. A philosophy that would become my lifetime work.
At 20, following a foundation in Art in Wrexham, North Wales, I pursued my academic 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 Art college. This led me to create a thesis on ‘Uniforms’, which I turned into a collaboration with my fellow art student Wolfgang Tillmans. Wolfgang’s stardom rocketed and I am not at all surprised he is now a globally acclaimed photographer and fine artist, winning the Turner Prize. He was very good behind the camera, even at a young age.
Around that time I met my future Spanish wife Marta Narbona who was also studying fashion. Marta’s sister Carmen had a baby girl Patricia Ferran, who was the first human being I got to know as a newborn baby. As a result I always felt close to her while she was growing up. Though I didn’t realise her desire to perform around the breakfast table at a very young age and myself being part of her first tiny audience, would one day lead to Patsy winning the Laurence Olivier’s actress of the Year in 2019.
In 1992 I continued my studies at the Royal College of Art, gaining an MA in Fashion Menswear – the only Mens postgraduate degree course in the world at that time, which offered just 7 places. I trudged on foot through the two foot deep snowstorm and dropped my black portfolio off on Queen St. As the large wooden doors opened I saw a vision of about two thousand similar black portfolios stacked up in a high ceiling room and I thought how small I was.
Luckily I got in. Wolfgang’s photographs had helped me.
Under the more intense spotlight of the RCA, I found himself oscillating in a higher profile arena, leading to me showing my graduate collection at the Welsh Fashion Awards at the Savoy Hotel, London 1994. A title I went on to win in 1995, to become the Welsh Fashion Designer of The Year. This prestigious competition was chaired by David Emanuel, the designer of Princess Diana’s wedding dress and fellow judge Shakira Caine, the wife of actor Michael Caine. While on stage I was approached by the host of the awards, TV presenter Jeff Banks who asked me “Are you Ossie Clark’s secret love child?”
Though humorous, this wasn’t true. Though it did lead to me being filmed by the BBC for a programme titled ‘The Clothes Show’, then a populist BBC1 programme, which aired with 8 million viewers.
This nationwide exposure led to me being invited, along with Philip Tracy, to represent the British Fashion Industry and Department of Trade & Industry at the high profile: ‘Action Japan’ event at the British Embassy in Tokyo, 1995. This exposure led to the president of Sanyo Shokai (Burberry’s licensing partner) making an approach to license the Toby Clark label in Asia. It was quite an honour for a postgraduate designer who was only 6 months out of college.
This rapid interest in my designs helped to establish his designer label TOBY CLARK, which retailed at leading designer stores in America, Asia and Europe. Notably, Browns of London, Barneys New York, Saks 5th Avenue, Liberty of London, Shinsegae of Korea and Anglobal, Japan.
During this period I won a number of business 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 the patron HRH Princess Anne. She was wearing a white glove.
My RCA graduate collection was inspired by School uniforms , which prompted a 6 page editorial on School style fashion in the launch edition of Arena Homme Plus+, styled by David Bradshaw and photographed by Paolo Roversi. Paolo happened to be my favourite image creator working in fashion at that time. I felt a bit overwhelmed but also incredibly excited.
The Daily Telegraph’s Fashion Editor Hilary Alexander, featured a full page editorial on Toby Clark for the launch of London Fashion Week in 1997. The article proclaimed that I was being hailed as the new Jean Muir. I found that quite tricky as before the interview Hilary had told me such comparison would be the death of me. The team at Jean Muir were understandably not amused as Jean, an icon of British fashion had very sadly died a few months earlier. I learned then that some journalists see “their” story as of more importance than the welfare of those they chose to exploit for their own gain.
At 29, I founded the design consultancy Clark & Narbona with my then Spanish wife Marta Narbona. I was invited by Rogel Saul the owner and founder of Mulberry to help relaunch Mulberry menswear at Pitti Uomo, Florence. Though this proved an enjoyable and successful challenge, I had always admired Margaret Howell, which fortuitously led to me being appointed as Margaret’s head Mens designer in a consultancy role.
At MH I spent 12 years, helping Margaret to establish her Mens business into an international brand. At that time the total group revenue was circa £70M a year, 10% generated in Europe and 90% in Japan, controlled by Anglobal Ltd, a division of Sanei-International Co Ltd. , TSI Holdings the parent company.
At 36, my creative steer on Margaret Howell’s Menswear led to MH receiving three nominations by the British Fashion Council for the title of – British Menswear Designer Of The Year at the British Fashion Awards. This period at MH included me consulting for the Japanese company MUJI and designing the Uniform for the V&A Museum in South Kensington. While designing for Margaret, I was interviewed by Alain De Botton for his book title ‘The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work’. That was interesting as Alain seemed more interested in my thoughts of the human figure without clothing, than my articulation of how important is the right shape and cut of a collar on a man’s shirt.
At 40, I met my current fiancé Maree Ballantine a New Zealander and re-branded my design company to Toby etc.
I then became a co-Founder of Blackhorse Lane Ateliers, the only Factory brand in London making selvedge denim jeans, with a local allotment growing Japanese indigo plants. The founding methodology incorporated an innovative factory space with chefs, weavers, dyers, leather makers and emerging craftsmen as part of a holistic community-focused enterprise. It was a game changer for manufacturing in Britain.
I retain a personal interest in philanthropic practice and community ownership. I was the architect of a campaign, to help secure 12,000 digital signatures to safeguard the Racecourse Ground, Wrexham (The Oldest International Football Ground in the World) within the Welsh Government’s Local Development plan. This activism helped secured the future of the sports stadium for the community and deter property speculators from purchasing the land with potential development value of £25M. My father was a former director and Chairman of Wrexham Football Club and my love for my home team had left a huge imprint on me.
At 50, having established myself as a clothing designer, brand strategist and a quiet activist of environmental concerns, I continue to pursue opportunities that consider sustainable and ethical parameters and preserve the natural balance of our eco-system. My current research seeks to reconnect the values “of-the-land” to a growing number of post millennium urbanites.
I particularly plan to do this in Aotearoa and to help build NZ design ecology brands with the potential for deep growth in Asian markets.
I am currently conducting research into NZ’s modernist painters and have created wikipedia pages for my G4 grandfather, William Beetham the acclaimed NZ portrait artist and his granddaughter, the painter Maude Burge, a painting companion of Frances Hodgkins.
As a small lagniappe to thank you for reading my biography, here is a link to one of my favourite songs as a teenager, back in the glorious 1980s.
Over the years my creative projects that have felt most 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 deep intuition and sensitivity to extract a unified, balanced viewpoint.
Successful creative collaborations don’t plagiarise one another’s dna, neither seeking to profiteer or replicate old ground. They create new work together, which 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 – has 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 one of my fondest memories 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 had 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.
Photography has always felt an important stimulus to my work. So when enrolling to study Fashion Sportswear at Bournemouth I was acutely aware of the college’s very high reputation for its school of film and photography. It was widely considered to be 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 that 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 Knight to have secured such a high profile fashion campaign in such a short space of time. It suggested to me that his abundant, 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 have always loved creative writing and I 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, to this day, feel repetitively drawn to. I 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 that is essential to conform to.
At secondary school my curiosity around regulations, led to the discovery, that my grey lambswool crew-neck sweater had the ability for some unknown reason, to prove less antagonistic to school rules (which stipulated a bottle green polyester v-neck jumper) than the black v-neck polyester jumpers, that regularly saw my classmates sent home or placed in detention.
At conception, I envisioned my thesis on Uniform being accompanied by a series of portrait images. This led me into the photography department and with some intuition and perhaps luck, to bump into a young 22-year-old Wolfgang Tillmans. It was Tony Maestri who recommended Wolfgang to me. After a brief chat, I sensed Wolfgang shared the same interest in Uniform as a creative subject. We also seemed to share similar aspirations to do meaningful work, that could stand up on their own right, beyond the internal world of academia.
My invitation to Wolfgang was very simple. To capture and record the subjects I curated, allowing him full artistic interpretation of the final image. I would select the subjects and the location and do the interview and prepare the written text 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 Tarmac Contractor, 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 to world culture in the early 90’s. The student photographer with a camera, the reflection of life itself and the Road Workers (Wolfgang’s favourite image) who represented the ‘work’ that we all do. The work that 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 aware of the value of his work and a sense of 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 in the year Wolfgang approached me to start taking photographs of my own clothing designs, which I was creating 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 in a campaign format, styled on the house model of Japanese designer Matsuda. This model was Roger Cook who I had found 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 is now a visiting lecturer at the Royal Academy of Arts.
My recollection of collaborating with Wolfgang was his incredibly well drilled observation, 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 a camera button, which perhaps a more traditional photographer may do.
He posessed supreme 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 was so instinctive framing a subject, he made it look easy, but of course it never was. To me his most endearing facet was discovering that his single minded confidence was balanced with empathy and humility.
Wolfgang’s desire to handprint each image, added an extra layer of artistic control over the process. He seemed to be motivated by inquisitiveness. With a burning desire to reproduce specific colour tones in a printed image, that was his own signature and were not being done at that time. His manner had the impression of a photographic scientist with a microscopic lense, who could climb inside the printed image.
I am quite certain it was Wolfgang’s photographic prints in my portfolio that helped me to 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. This opened the door for other fashion students at the college to follow in future years.
I had 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 own intake was limited to just 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 at the RCA, 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 felt it was rare to see in a student’s portfolio.
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 just secured a commission with i-D publication. That early work with i-D provided the exposure that started the Tillmans ripple effect, 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 thesis was of such a high standard we should approach the Sunday Times Magazine. I decided not to pursue it. 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 that 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 that Wolfgang exhibited one of the images from our Uniform collaboration ~ Road workers ~ at his first proper solo exhibition at the Daniel Buchholz gallery in Cologne in 1993, recreated at Frieze Art Fair in 2016.
I recall the Road Workers being his favourite image of our Uniform work. Like much of life’s best art, it happened impromptuly on the side of the road by a roundabout, while we were outside the college returning from another shoot. In 2018 this photograph was sold as an artwork through Sothebys ………….. Sothebys Tillmans Auction
Considering Wolfgang’s methodological archivist approach and his careful control over the release of work; I’m 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, I thought it a nice idea to send him a pair of Blackhorse Lane Atelier Jeans. These were manufactured by the factory-brand I had co-founded in Walthmastow, London. Being aware of Wolfgang’s love of East London (the location of his London studio) the style I sent him was E5. We created each BHL selvedge jean according to different London postcodes and the appropriate social demographic, considering the style of clothing identified with that zonal area. As a brand identifier it was an interesting experiment.
I was aware Wolfgang was a devotee of Levis jeans. A regular staple of his T-shirt and Jeans style. With my knowledge of the clothing industry, I knew the likelihood of Wolfgang’s Levis jeans being 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 made locally, less than 5 miles from his London studio. Our ethos was a quiet revolution about mass customisation and cheap labour. Locality and provenance has always felt important in my work.
It did feel particularly fitting to send 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 self photograph wearing our Atelier jeans…
You can view here 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 study culminated in the creation of the ‘Toby Clark’ label which won international awards – ‘Wales Designer Of The Year’ 1995 and achieved recognition amongst the fashion industry’s cognoscenti and opinion formers. The brand sold into the world’s leading retail stores. Barney NY, Browns of South Molton St and Anglobal, Japan. Following a number of design commissions with high profile brands, Toby incorporated a design consultancy business in 1997. Through old fashioned hard work and an arc for integrity, the company TOBY etc. has successfully completed design consultancy projects spanning three decades. This has included a number of highly admired international brands with a cult following. 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 email@example.com 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.
All creative thinkers remember fondly the moments they feel really moved and inspired. Through the discovery of another artist, whose work directly influences your own work. It’s a rewarding part of the creative process. In my own case, inspiration is not confined to any particular niche, nook or cranny. It 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. A la William S. Burroughs.
The purpose of allocating 1 grid square of this website to the subject of Inspiration, is to acknowledge it as a critical part of the creative process. It is also to share an image that currently inspires me, together with a short explanatory description. This will be a slowly evolving showcase that I will replace from time to time. Not dissimilar to Eno Goldfinger’s carefully curated art wall at his home in 2 Willow road. Do go and see it if you’ve never been. It’s wonderful…
This image is a digital reproduction of a gelatin silver print of 2 ceramic jugs thrown by NZ potter Barry Brickell and photographed by my late pen pal and friend Marti Freidlander, the incredibly talented NZ photographer. Marti had a unique eye and charisma and is highly decorated in New Zealand. I think of her as an artist and I admired 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 really 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. It draws an emotive reaction, suggesting a craftsman of refined skill and knowledge. A craftsman who has mastered their craft and able to freely communicate their artform 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 do smile when imagining the conversation between Marti and Barry on that day.
Instagram has grown to become the 21st century’s most influential image sharing technology. With more than 1 billion users worldwide, it is now considered by many to be an intrinsic tool of our daily lives.
It’s global influence upon our society is quite remarkable. With an unparalleled platform of connectivity, driven by the biggest archive of digital photographs in the world, already surpassing 40 billion images.
The popularity of image sharing has created a new set of social paradigms, providing a rampant level of digital voyeurism, with images shared direct from one hand held device, into the palm of another, located somewhere else in the world.
The facility to enhance each image through digital filters takes us a step closer to a world of virtual reality, leaving a powerful impression on the viewer, while enabling a conflict between illusion and reality.
While an intriguing phenomenon, the advance of Instagram with its omnipresent influence and 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 are still relatively unchartered…
“As a creative I have always felt it’s important to engage with all types of communication technology and I believe in the principle of sharing authentic creativity in an open public platform.
I prefer to do this in a quiet way and use Instagram to connect with like-minded creatives. I don’t seek nor chase followers and believe in organic connectivity. This is the reason I never use #hashtags.
I like reality, which is also the reason I never photoshop or filter my images. To me there is an art and skill in capturing 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 is important to my life journey. My instagram feed features a myriad of creators who inspire me and who all channel the Light. ”
Click the link below if you wish to follow Toby on Instagram:
My outlook has always been to value genuine friendship.
In our modern age of digital screens that create a physical barrier and vie for our attention with distraction media, finding the luxury of time, to invest in conversation, to share time together, to laugh, giggle or cry and enjoy each other’s company, is one of the biggest challenges we face.
I admire my friends, not because of what they do, or their status or career success, but the way they choose to live their lives.
Self-awareness of our own personalities and behavioural traits and the ability to show empathy towards others, are important aspects of life. 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; 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 other creatives who inspire me and who I admire. There is no particular 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 engage the services of TOBY etc. please make contact by e-mail in the first instance. A full CV and company profile is available by request.
If you would like to invite Toby to talk at a public event, or visit an educational organisation, please kindly contact Toby directly. There is no PR representative as…
“I believe in a personal touch as the first line of defence.”
If you are a student and simply seek some career guidance, mentoring or referral, you will be pleased to know Toby has a philanthropic heart and will do his best to help you.
To contact Toby: