Thom Dolan may be a little known up-and-coming label, but designer Thomasine Dolan is actually an industry vet with 20 years under her belt. After years and years of working for big names like Ralph Lauren, Armani and Banana Republic, Dolan decided she was finally ready to tell her own story. In 2010 she launched her label with a few retro swimsuits, which quickly grew into a complete range of classic, masculine-meets-feminine pieces in high quality fabrics.
The busy New Yorker balances being a mom of three with running her growing business, both of which she does from her Broome St. apartment. She invited me into her amazing home (her studio is the floor below), and it was easy to get sidetracked as we discussed everything from her love of The Sound of Music to her dismay over the Kardashian phenomenon. One thing is certain, if you haven’t heard of this designer, who is as honest and witty as her designs, it’s time to take note. Read on to learn more.
What was your relationship with fashion when you were young?
It was always more from a styling point of view. My mom was prudent with expenditures and we never had name brand anything. It would kill me! I also loved comic books and loved looking at the girl characters. As a kid, my friends and I would create outfits and get my older sisters to vote on the best looks. She would use a deck of cards to grade us! I also loved drawing fashion.
So did you pursue fashion for school?
Maryland, where I grew up, doesn’t really have a fashion school, but I didn’t have the courage to head to New York when I was 18. I ended up studying graphic design. That led me to working in advertising out in LA after graduating. I really missed fashion though. All I had was getting dressed so I put everything into that.
How did you end up New York and in the industry?
Shortly after moving here I met someone who worked for Bill Blass, and I ended up basically stalking him down! I didn’t even have any real experience, so he took a chance on me. I would do embroidery and beading on the patterns, which sort of used my graphic design background. That only lasted about a year before a boss came in and replaced the team. Then it was back to cold calling, which I somehow had the courage to do when I knew rent was due.
Well you certainly landed on your feet. How did your CV grow so strong?
I ended up at Ralph Lauren, which was an amazing four years. It had a high level of fabric and construction. Then I went to Armani, which was so different. Back then he was such a god of women’s fashion. My learning at that point was very technical. Then I sort of fell into a role at Banana Republic, where I worked for about 12 years. I had many roles there, including accessories.