I recently had the great pleasure to meet Tony Joshua Sanna, an Italian designer from Sardinia who is currently based in Shanghai.
Sanna first discovered his interest in fashion when he was working as a hair stylist and makeup artist. Bored during down time backstage for a fashion event in Miami he began to drape and shape a spare piece of fabric on a mannequin form which earned him a compliment from a late great designer. On returning home he found an atelier to understudy at, all while working at his full time job.
When the time was right he used his knowledge of pattern making and garment construction to launch his own brand T.J.S. Despite 30 years in the industry Tony still loves fashion and he has an infectious energy starting the conversation off with "I've done so much but there is still so much I want to do."
To learn more about his story keep reading below:
How did you end up in Shanghai?
I was working in a fashion school in Hong Kong teaching adult students and one of my students who was very good friends with a person living in Shanghai introduced me to his friend who was looking for a stylist to help one of his clients. She was a famous golf instructor who had moved her business to China. Since she was writing a new book in Chinese she needed help with her hair makeup and styling since she was making public appearances. Since I'm very good and experienced in all three things I was asked to come to Shanghai for one month to do this. It was a great success and I've stayed in Shanghai ever since.
You mentioned you still love fashion, what is it about your creative medium that you find so fascinating?
It's been nearly 30 years now of being a dressmaker and designer and even today when I pick up fabric it still feels like the first day I started. My passion has got stronger over the years, I am always trying new looks new techniques as I don't really go with the seasons I make and design based on how I'm feeling at that time. Before I start designing a collection I go to the fabric market to touch the fabric, then my collection starts from there for bridal, evening and haute couture. I also love teaching students across a wide range of ages, I make it so much fun and interesting and really enjoy sharing my knowledge with them.
Can you tell us how you came to collaborate with GAP China for an A/W 17/18 capsule collection?
In 2016 I was asked to design a new fall collection for GAP China.
I was personally asked by the CEO who had seen some if my work. Since I have a high passion for Asian style mixed together with Western design elements she thought this would be an interesting new look for GAP. After a year of hard work the collection was released in September 2017. It was a great success that sold out within a month of launching.
How do you consult your clients on custom designs?
When a client come to see me about making a dress, the first thing I ask them is "What is the occasion?" Then it all starts from there, if they have a picture of something they like, that would be a visual guideline, but I will never copy. I want each custom order I make to be personally made for each client, although there will be some details of the dress they are looking included. Everything from the neckline color to fabric will be included in the consultation so the final design suits their personality and skin tone. When I work with a client, I always give her my honest opinion in every way I can to achieve the best result.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
My future is here in Shanghai.
Right now I am still making collections from my studio and doing many projects with others. I recently worked with a magazine for an editorial, I made a collection that was specially designed for that. My collection is also being sold on an online platform and a big project that is currently being discussed will see my collection housed in a physical retail location where my existing clients and future ones can see my designs in person. I'll also be consulting for a new menswear brand and soon I will be a creative director for a new store.
To learn more about custom orders or Sanna's studio taught fashion classes add the designer on WeChat, his ID is tibby67.