The taste-making duo behind TOCCIN talks about their new collection and designing and dressing for fashion today.
Collaborating since their first days in college, today husband-and-wife fashion designers Alex and Michael Toccin have built a fashion resume worthy of awe, and today TOCCIN’s family of brands is growing, just like the number of tiny feet in their home.
Following the success of their Saks and Neiman Marcus-carried brand TOCCIN NY, the designing duo recently launched its second clothing line, LDT, exclusively for Dillard’s and it’s named for their daughter who inspired this fresh take on fashion with details inspired by the 1960s and 1990s.
it’s (LDT) named for their daughter who inspired this fresh take on fashion with details inspired by the 1960s and 1990s.
“We actually named LDT after our daughter, Liv Dakota Toccin, who just turned three,” says Alex, now mom to two children Sold in 85 Dillard’s stores nationwide and on Dillards.com, LDT embraces the brighter side of life, bringing joy back to the art of dressing.
“When we designed the LDT collection, we were thinking about the next generation, and that’s why we named it after her,” adds Michael. “Our daughter brings joy and happiness into our life, so we brought that into the collection by making it colorful and bright—and even if the style is sophisticated, it’s all about the color and tailoring and what the dress exudes.”
While to some, the middle of a pandemic might seem like an odd time to expand your fashion business, for the Toccins, there is no time like the present.
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“With everything going on in the world, it was so exciting for us to launch this brand, and it was the perfect time because it really brought joy to our lives,” says Alex. “And we know that the clothes will bring joy into all of our customers’ lives as well.”
Born out of a blog “Stylists to a T,” Toccin NY is not only LDT’s predecessor, but a visual manifestation of both Alex and Michael’s aesthetics and relationship.
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“I’m definitely the Type A one in our relationship, while Michael is more Type B,” says Alex, who met her husband the first day of college during orientation at George Washington University.
“I majored in marketing,” Mrs. Toccin adds. “I interned at various fashion houses in New York City throughout the summers, and when we graduated, I knew I was coming to New York and diving right into the fashion business. So, I started off in PR, and ended up going to the Parsons School of Design after I worked in PR for about a year.”
Michael’s path, on the other hand, was not quite so linear. “I was actually going to go be a lawyer, and then when I was a [college] junior, a big shift happened,” he says.
“My grandmother said ‘Michael, you really should go after your dream.’ But when you’re young, sometimes you don’t know what your dream is. I didn’t really know what my dream was, and she kind of brought it out in me. She said, ‘You have such a great taste level and great style—I think you should go into the fashion industry.’ And from there, I jumped on that immediately, and started getting fashion internships in New York,” said Mr. Toccin.
Michael went on to work for Oscar de la Renta, Zac Posen and Kaufman Franco for several years, while Alex worked for various brands including Ralph Lauren and Theory. As the duo continued to gain industry experience and expanded their network, people started to take notice.
“Women would constantly come up to both of us and say ‘What do I wear? How do I wear it? Where do I buy it?’” says Alex. “And because we were constantly being asked these questions, that’s why I said ‘Let’s go start a blog. Let’s see if other people appreciate our voice besides our network.’
That’s when it really hit us—through a few years and through a lot of relationships and different experiences working with different brands and different stores we realized that there was definitely a calling and an opportunity in the marketplace at the time to create a dress line that really appealed to the working woman. They’re dresses that a woman can wear from day to night, and she can style any way. And that’s how the fashion brand TOCCIN was really created.”
Two kids and a few years later, and the couple has crafted a near-perfect approach to balancing both parenthood and their brand. “I think we definitely got into a place where we understand who’s good at what and who needs support at what,” says Alex.
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“We’ve figured out how we can be the Yin and Yang—especially now having two kids. Michael’s an amazing supporter and really helps to run our team and run our company when I’m not able to be there. And we’ve definitely had to figure out how to make sure that we separate our time—that we’re on when we’re on with our family, and then when we’re working, we really try to make our time about that.”
“I think the key item to it is to identify your roles,” says Michael. “When we first started, we thought we had to do everything.”
“And everything together,” adds Alex.
“I totally get the concept of dressing from the waist-up,” adds Michael. “But like we like to tell our customers and followers, ‘just complete the look.”
“As we’re growing, there’s only so much time. “And now we’re really having to divide and conquer, and we know what we’re best at. I’m the creative, and Alex is our CMO. She’s the most amazing marketer. She does what she does, and I do what I do.”
As part of “doing what they do best,” the Toccins share the fashion sentiment that dressing the part is key—even in the era of Zoom meetings.
“It’s been so important for us during this pandemic to get up every day and get dressed for the day,” says Alex. “And so, from our messaging standpoint for our brand and for our community, it is so important that we continue to spread positivity during this time, and really encourage women to get dressed and be styled to a T.”
“I totally get the concept of dressing from the waist-up,” adds Michael. “But like we like to tell our customers and followers, ‘just complete the look.’”
Post-pandemic, Michael and Alex foresee a resurgence of dressing-up.
“It’s so funny, we were speaking with someone this morning, and we were all saying how we hope it’s going to be like the Roaring Twenties,” says Alex. “We hope that as we all come out of this that people are excited to get dressed. People are excited to go out. People are excited to have a purpose. And so, we continue to feel that way.”
It’s in this spirit that Alex and Michael trek forward in fashion with TOCCIN NY and LDT. What’s next?
“There’s so much next for us,” says Michael. “We have a lot up our sleeves, as we’ve mentioned. We are looking to continually build both of our businesses to be full lifestyle collections, and we would eventually love to be in all categories [of the marketplace]. So, when we get there, we get there, but one step at a time.”