WHO REALLy is…
Tony Tonnaer – Kings of Indigo
Everybody has heard about Tony Tonnaer, the founder of the Dutch denim brand Kings of Indigo. But Tony is not only an entrepreneur. He is also a father, a lover, a traveller. We’ve asked him unexpected questions that will make you feel closer to this unique human being.
Who are you?
Tony: I am Tony Tonnaer, born in 1968 in the south of the Netherlands, interested in denim since high school and graduated at Amsterdam Fashion Institute in 1993. I worked for 6 years with Pepe Jeans, 1 year with Ubi Ind before I became CEO of Kuyichi in 2003, the first organic denim brand in Europe. I started Kings Of Indigo in 2011. I am married to Catrien and have 2 kids: Tobias (9) and Jessie (7).
Why did you choose this name, Kings of Indigo?
Tony: When I left Kuyichi and contemplated to start my own brand, I thought the new should be simple, clear and powerful – as even after 10 years Kuyichi, lots of people did not understand the meaning nor how to pronounce the name. So my choice was KOI, after a tattoo I did when my mom passed away in 2002 (she hated tattoos and she was a woman who went against the current). I thought it was the perfect name for a sustainable jeans brand doing business differently too. At a concert of Kings Of Convenience, I came up with the idea of using K.O.I as an abbreviation for Kings Of Indigo… check the registration of the brand name, and it appeared to be available to my big surprise… the brand was born.
Where can we find your brand?
Tony: We sell in about 300 stores, mainly in Northern Europe, and also in our web shop.
What is the denim creation you’re the most proud of?
Tony: I think our Shotuku jacked which had all elements of our brand in it… Kimono style (Japan inspired), with a recycled teddy as a lining (USA inspired), made from 3 different colours of upcycled denim… it was launched around 2017.
Who is your target?
Tony: Every person who wants to buy a proper piece of quality denim, cares about our world and is a forward thinker.
What differentiates K.O.I. from the other workwear brands?
Tony: The main thing is that we are not an original workwear brand, but we took workwear and denim as they are made to last, timeless, so very sustainable. And we produce with sustainable fabrics and washes which set us apart.
Can you tell us a fun tradeshow anecdote you have witnessed?
Tony: For me all opening parties of Bread and Butter were just something to really look forward to and remember for life.
What is your very personal passion and why?
Tony: Music… listen to it. Non-stop. It gives me energy, empowers my emotions and inspiration. Unfortunately, I don’t have the patience to lean to play an instrument though.
If you could meet one legend, who would it be?
Tony: Leonardo Da Vinci, the man who was way ahead of his time, a genius.
What’s your favorite song?
Tony: I don’t have 1 favorite song. I go through phases in life where I love different kinds of artists… at the moment I listen a lot to James Blake and in fashion school it was all grunge.
What is your favorite activity?
Tony:I love to go to my cabin on camping de Lievelinge, go away from the fashion craze, listen to music, spend time with my family, build something small and canoe on the lake… just a different world…
If you could teleport yourself right now, where would you go?
Tony: Kyoto in times of spring with all cherry blossom blooming… dream away in the past while enjoying the art of Japanese design and cooking.
Ask yourself the question you wish to be asked and answer to it.
Tony: What makes you really happy?
Tony: Love and a perfectly designed and made product.
What is the Leitmotiv that represents you the best?
Tony: Just do it… better!