Every parent wishes to give his child a good legacy. Perhaps teaching a profession that the child can pursue a career is the best option in the long term. Therefore, in artisanship, there is an important relationship of mastery and apprenticeship and knowledge is passed on from generation to generation. Sharon Bensason Behar is also a member of a family with these traditions. Both grandparents had stores and ateliers in the most popular cities in Europe. Sharon's passion for fashion, even though he studied in different fields, has turned him into a designer who has contributed to the fashion industry like his grandfathers and father. However, he decided to establish his own label on the other side of the ocean, and in 2006 he founded Men's fashion brand Ron Tomson in Los Angeles. I talked with Sharon Bensason Behar about his life, career, and Ron Tomson.
Sharon, before talking about your Men's clothing brand Ron Tomson, I would like to learn more about you. If you leave fashion aside, who is Sharon Bensason?
I was born in Israel, at 9 my family moved back to Istanbul, Turkey where they have been originally from. My family is of Spanish Jewish decedents now living in Turkey for generations. To me, at that age, Turkey was a whole new culture, but my parents it was not. So as a child, I did not have the easiest time adapting, I wasn't very social in high school. In college, I studied Sociology. My parents actually wanted me to go to college and follow a career in anything but fashion, and honestly, I was set to do do it as a freshman, but very fast I came to see that what I really wanted. I got my BA in sociology and immediately after graduation moved to LA to start a clothing line.
How did your interest in fashion has begun?
So it has been in my family for generations. I think including my father, every single Grandfather I have all the way back to 16th century Bejar, which was a textile city in the province of Salamanca Spain, has been involved in fashion and textiles at some point. I grew up listening to stories how my grandfather Joseph Behar had boutiques in European high streets like Champ Elysee, and how another grand grandfather Issac Bakshi was a famous tailor who made the first hat to Legendary Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey. My Father had a very successful clothing line which supported my education and later my debut in fashion. So it fascinated me and that's what I felt was natural for me to do.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
What inspired you to pursue a career as a fashion designer?
In Israel, we lived a very different life but once I was 9 and my family moved back to Turkey, I discovered my grandparents' old hat making atelier and shop. My Father showed me how they were bringing a 6 piece cap together, how silk printing was done and all the good stuff, all that was magic to me. When I got the chance from school I used to like going to see what was happening at their shop. On the other hand, when it came to making a decision, my family, especially my mother, knowing how hard and unpredictable garment can be, wanted me to go to college and pursue a career in another line of work. I was genuinely interested in Psychology and Sociology so I actually studied that. But like I mentioned my ambition of creating my own label one day overwhelmed.
Sharon Bensason Behar
In 2006, why did you decide to continue with your own label?
At that year I was working for a company that my father was a partner of. There were many partners involved and there were disagreements. It was time to leave and my dad supported my decision to break off, and so I started my own line.
Could you tell us about Ron Tomson and your team?
We are an LA brand, we have an amazing team here really, that’s definitely what matters. We work from our DTLA offices and at the same location, we have a 4000 sqft flagship storefront. Trough our store we all get to meet costumers, friends, people who like and wear our garments every day and that's a blessing too in every way. It influences everything we do and that's what we are always on point.
Many fashion designers specialize in Women's clothing and have become famous. What is the most special aspect of Men's clothing for you? How did you make your Men's clothing brand successful?
It is a little egocentric, I get in the mood imagining how cool would be if I could wear something like this and that… and because I am a man that's what I come up with :) I like to think out of the box, always in the opposite direction of the masses and I like to make a point to how things were better made in the old days. So I go with horsehair canvases and real buttonholes, better fabrics, and yes I like innovations and modern looks but only when they are constructed on a conservative foundation.
What are the different characteristics of Ron Tomson designs? Could you tell us about the design and production philosophy of Ron Tomson?
I really don't believe in, as a brand having a distinct look, and that the wearer should fit into it. To me, it's the opposite. I like to make clothes and collections that are mood and trend-oriented, catering to whatever the wearer feels he is in the mood for that day. It could be a mad max urban warrior mood or a preppy mood. So our brand should be distinguished with its construction of a garment but not in its uniformity in color theory and design. So in that sense were are fast and exciting. We definitely try to be entertaining with our design, our retail store and our website. People who visit our store say it looks different every time they come in, and it's true not only for the collections displayed, it's the store itself the decor, setup, the whole experience.
A customer who comes to your store can find all they want from shoes to bracelets, from t-shirts to tuxedos. What are your inspirations in designing so many different apparels and accessories?
Exactly. So yes, it because we imagine ourselves in a club, gala or a red carpet and fantasizing the whole outfit that we would make us feel sleek and sexy because all the effort and details that went into the outfit. Naturally, then you go, ok so what kind of jewelry and what kind of a shoe would complete this look, and then we figure well, we need to make that too then…
How often do you change up your collections?
It's very much every month we have new styles and even a capsule collection, we keep adding and developing. So there isn't really seasons, there isn’t a rigid style, no boundaries or rules. We have fans that come into the store regularly and sometimes they have special requests so we sometimes make a special item and it becomes part of the collection. Like a tuxedo, my wife made (yes she designs too) for two beloved musician friends wedding became a part of our collection.
What is your favourite material that you prefer to use in your designs?
Leather. I love leather for everything. Our stores changing rooms have curtains made from leather…
Social media is a new podium for fashion brands. What do you think about the power of social media on buyers' decisions?
It's an absolutely liberating, amazing new reality. It used to be a closed circuit of a model a magazine, and designer who can afford all those. Now everyone with a taste and or a talent is visible and every idea gets its chance. So absolutely a buyers decision is and should be affected by this free flow of images and ideas vs the old way of only seeing whats paid to be presented to you. Unfortunately, through social media is also becoming more and more commercialized and controlled, so that turns me off a little.
How can our readers follow Ron Tomson?
Besides following us on our website, our DTLA store and social media, specifically Instagram. We show twice a year in Las Vegas during Project Show. We are also now working on fashion week runways in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, and a fashion installation in Coachella. So we have some exciting projects are coming along.
Where can our readers buy Ron Tomson designs?
We are in many specialty boutiques across the country, also our own store is in Los Angeles street in Downtown LA, of course, we have our website Rontomson.com too.
Thank you Sharon for your time.