Designers Timo Weiland and Alan Eckstein were brought together by a rather unlikely muse: the ascot. Both had developed an affection for the old-school accessory, so when they first met and each was sporting the aforementioned cravat, it was love at first sight (professionally speaking, that is). Faster than you can say "Beau Brummell," the two had joined forces to launch a line of classic neckwear that graced the…errr…necks of various Gossip Girl characters, both male and female.
"We love bow ties, but also ties in general," said Eckstein (pictured, above left). "When my grandfather passed away, I inherited his ties, bow ties, ascots, etc. They all looked so beautiful when my grandmother passed them on to me. I think it was in that moment when I fell in love with ties. Timo was wearing one when I met him. It's definitely a common interest."
"Neck accessories became a staple in my life after being forced to wear a period costume for a play at a young age (third grade, perhaps?)," said Weiland (above right). "Things like that always stick with me, but are constantly evolving."
Soon, the Vanderbilt University-educated Nebraska native (Weiland) and the FIT-educated Great Neck native (Eckstein) added his-and-hers ready-to-wear to the mix and—voila!—the Timo Weiland brand was complete. Fast forward four years, and the label is now carried in Barneys New York, Opening Ceremony, Saks Fifth Avenue, Harvey Nichols and designer boutiques worldwide.
For spring 2012 (which marked the duo's first New York runway show), they unveiled a capsule shoe collaboration with Tsubo, and teamed up with Strokes' bass player, Nikolai Fraiture, on several classics-with-a-twist menswear pieces, with nary a bowtie in sight. (In seasons' past, the designers have done Fashion Week collaborations with Anna Sheffield, George Esquivel and Albertus Swanepoel.)
The Fashion Informer's Lauren David Peden tracked them down shortly before the holidays to talk brunch, road trips and finding inspiration in unlikely places.
So, Timo and Alan…
What did you do last weekend and what are your plans for this weekend?
Timo Weiland: Last weekend I was cleansing, exercising and surfing after a long Thanksgiving holiday and several weeks in China/Hong Kong. Tried to regain my sense of center and self after being spread so thin over a hectic few weeks.
Alan Eckstein: I went to Orient Point. It's one of the most eastern points in Long Island. It was so beautiful, so quiet, just like a little village. This weekend I plan to be with my girlfriend Haley, and Timo and Donna in the office.
Brunch: pro or con?
TW: Pro: fun with friends, gorgeous scenery (usually). Con: drunk during the day.
AE: Brunch is a special time. I love it. It gets the mind going on a Sunday.
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
TW: Justin Timberlake or Shia LaBeouf. I have heard that I look a lot like both these guys and I like them both, so I'm cool with either!
AE: Hmm..not sure. A very handsome man, I'm sure. HA!
Is there a print or particular item of clothing we'll never see in a Timo Weiland collection?
TW: Nothing comes to mind that could possibly be completely excluded from our repertoire forever. Anything is possible.
AE: The future for us is endless. When we first started we said we disliked the color orange. Last season we used orange heavily. I think we shouldn't limited ourselves to anything. We're bound to love ideas in the future that we might not fancy today.
What's your favorite and least favorite thing about New York Fashion Week?
TW: Favorite: reuniting with people, showcasing our long hours of hard work, the energy and adrenaline. Least favorite: the lack of sleep, the hectic environment.
AE: My least favorite thing might be the amount of sleep we don't receive or the time crunch pre-show. But the most amazing feeling is during the actual show, and you see your work come alive. It's a wonderful moment.
What's your favorite autumn activity?
TW: Road trips, observing the change of the colors of the leaves in New England. Row boating in Central Park with my boyfriend.
AE: Driving around the Hudson River Valley with my girl listening to "fall music" as we like to say. It's best in the early morning; the sun is so bright and the fall colors are out.
What would I be surprised to learn about your co-designer?
TW: He loves sports, but is not an athlete per se.
AE: He's quite funny and surprising. He's also very knowledgeable about many little things.
What's the most you've ever spent on a purchase, other than a house or car?
TW: $2,000 for a Margiela coat.
AE: I've never bought a house or car. I bought a pair of Marc Jacobs boots for quite a lot of money, but I think my month to month rent is higher than anything I've ever paid for.
What's your dream job?
AE: Music Supervisor for films.
Tell me about your favorite/most meaningful item of clothing/jewelry?
TW: My Timo Weiland trench because it is one of our first pieces we ever made, and it embodies the Timo Weiland man—tailored, smart, colorful.
AE: My "Suck on it Babe, it's Clogged" t-shirt. I bought it at an Army Navy store when I was 15. It's black with big bold white lettering and it's falling apart. I always feel pretty special in it.
What's in current rotation on your iPod and in the studio?
TW: The Strokes, Rolling Stones, Kisses, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Ace of Base, Orbital Be-Bop…
AE: The Smiths, The Kinks, jazz, and Christmas music now actually. I've also been listening to The Strokes, Oregon Bike Trails, Tennis, and I love this new band The Guards.
What's the most unlikely place you've ever found inspiration?
TW: The Jersey shore (not the show).
AE: Father's closet.
Tell me about your pet(s).
TW: About to purchase a Welsh Corgi in the next year or so, so let's revisit this question next year!
AE: Don't have one yet. I would love a dachshund, soon!
What makes you nervous?
TW: Time-management obstacles.
AE: Time going by.
When are you happiest?
TW: When I am in love (which I am very much right now in love with my boyfriend of two years). Also, when we reach new, higher levels of performance with the Timo Weiland business. Each stage/step is very exciting and fulfilling.
AE: Surrounded by my favorites. There's nothing better.