It’s a pleasure to announce our next exchange of thoughts with the lovely Belgian designer Timo Sassen, describing oneself as “Antwerp born, NYC based & 165 without heels” in his Instagram bio. Timo is not your average one-trick pony, coming with a backpack of different experiences going from styling, to photography, to having his own brand.
We’re talking about a self taught fashion designer, who doesn’t take himself too seriously and wants to inject the needed humor, sexyness and playfulness into fashion. His designs provide the needed comfort with his trademark use of fleece. Not your go to fabric for a sexy outfit per se, but Timo definitely knows how to give his beloved material that extra touch.
We talked over email, crossing overseas boundaries since Timo swapped Antwerp for New York and went on a new adventure.
Find out more about his journey and discover his latest FW21 collection, in collaboration with Brooklyn based designer Marshall Columbia, as he states himself: “I wanted the collection to have a good balance between cozy and party. It’s calling for introverts to stay in and extroverts to go out!”
Timo Sassen’s signature button down tops
You recently moved to New York, how is it going over there?
Yes! Moving so far away from home, especially in an already difficult time isn’t easy. It’s for sure not something you can prepare yourself for too much, because things hit different when they are actually happening! That being said I LOVE New York, it’s such a giving city, full of inspiring people and a motivating atmosphere. I also finally get to live with my husband which makes everything that much more rewarding!
How does being based in NY influence your work, compared to being in Antwerp before that?
Living and designing in Antwerp, with a clientele that’s mainly based in the United States makes it feel like a part of me is almost designing for that specific market. Now actually being in the U.S., it’s more important to me to honor my background and design with my actual heritage in mind!
Campaign images Collection II
Contrary to what many people think, you studied photography instead of fashion. How did these studies impact you towards becoming a fashion designer? Did they contribute to it or was it then that you understood that you want to pursue another career?
During my photography studies I made sort of a pact with my tutors that I could always inject fashion or models into my assignments, as long as my work was good. Which it was.
I always knew that fashion was something for me, having your own label is just something that’s not obvious when you're an inexperienced little teen! Doing photography and styling throughout the years has for sure contributed to my skill set, which still comes in handy when having a brand.
Which difficulties and victories did you encounter during your process as a designer?
Being a young, fairly unknown and not wealthy individual brings a bunch of difficulties on the way. But as I look back on the past few years since my launch in 2018, I see nothing but victories! I grew immensely, got to meet and work with amazing people, I’m selling in-store and online worldwide and get the longer the more recognition for my hard work. It feels good and I’m not complaining.
Being a self-taught designer and a one-man business, how do you find the balance between working a lot and taking a rest in time? Do you have some kind of ritual?
I don’t think there was a balance until Covid hit. I worked my full-time day job, got home and worked on my collections/projects. Now I’m lucky enough to work purely on my designs. More so than being physically busy, it’s the mental occupancy that gets you, and that’s what I need to escape sometimes. Meet friends, get wasted and DO NOT talk about work!
Your clothes are fabulously sexy and an ode to queer aesthetics. How do you want people to feel when they are wearing your pieces?
I want people to feel sexy, confident and important!
Are there particular places/ people/... you go to for inspiration or advice?
The internet. Loving Tumblr honestly!
What was your inspiration for your latest collection?
During these challenging times, I wanted to show personal and creative growth. A part of that being also my journey as a designer and CEO of my brand, Timo Sassen. I elevated my already existing fleece styles to another level and on top of that I’m working with new materials such as faux leather.
My past fashion work was very item driven with little focus on head to toe looks, but with this collection I wanted to think fuller picture. I developed an eye for detail so each look has been thought through carefully. I took basically core principles of my brand and applied them to a fully formed collection — which consists of 12 looks — that stays true to my fleece fantasies.
Moreover it was important for me to collaborate with other emerging designers on this collection. With most of the world’s interactions being online in the past year, I saw this as the opportunity to collaborate with Marshall Columbia.
Marshall and I have been internet friends for a while and we found ourselves creating with a similar aesthetic and love for electric color combinations. We designed a small line of bags and hats that combine our styles to create this balanced final project.
There is a lot of emotion loaded into the materials of this collection and we have to comfort ourselves in ways we know. For me that’s fashion and fleece, that’s TIMO SASSEN FW21.
Timo Sassen FW21
How do you see the future given the climate that we’re in?
Hard one :/
Which advice would you give to your younger self?
Come out waaaay earlier, being openly gay is fun!
And finally, which are your favorite pieces from STOF? ;))
Obsessed with the A.F. Vandevorst Fur boots and the Maison Martin Margiela burgundy sweater sack bag.
Timo Sassen FW21
Timo Sassen’s “The Gorge Face” suit in an editorial for Desnudo Magazine Korea
A warm thank you to Timo for sharing his story!
Text by Karina Zharmukhambetova