Tom Ford on How Fashion Feeds His Filmmaking

Mikelle Street
Tom Ford attends a Cinema Against AIDS benefit in May 2015. (Photo: Getty Images)
Tom Ford attends a Cinema Against AIDS benefit in May 2015. (Photo: Getty Images)

Though Tom Ford has been steadily building his fashion business over the last 10 years, a hobby of his has seemingly become a viable career path. This fall, Ford’s sophomore work as a movie director debuts with Nocturnal Animals. With a cast that includes Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Armie Hammer, the film feels like more than a mere passion project. But according to Ford, don’t look for him to make an exit from fashion anytime soon.

In an interview with the BBC, when asked if he needed to continue on with his fashion career, Ford responded, “I do need to carry on.” He continued, “It finances my films at this point.” And that’s big money.

While it’s hard to figure out exactly how much money Ford sank into his latest cinematic work, there are some numbers we can look at. When the former Gucci designer took Nocturnal Animals to the Cannes Film Festival to shop it around, Focus Features secured worldwide rights for the project in the largest deal of the festival this year: $20 million. And as we all know, you’ve got to spend money to make money, and so one would expect that Ford had to invest a pretty penny to produce a work that not only attracted the blockbuster talent Nocturnal Animals has, but also warranted such a large rights deal. But Ford’s business is sizable.

Earlier this year, Women’s Wear Daily speculated that the Tom Ford Beauty business alone, owned by Estée Lauder, could become a billion-dollar brand by 2020 if the current growth rate holds. In fact, by June 30 of this year, the company was set to hit $500 million already. That’s not counting Ford’s robust eyewear and ready-to-wear businesses.

Ford himself told Business of Fashion that by 2014, the entire Tom Ford International business, including beauty, eyewear, apparel, and accessories, was going to hit a billion dollars per year.

So yeah, this Texan isn’t going anywhere for a while.

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