Tony Iyke grew up in Nigeria. He tells his story in a full circle: his mother, Rose, was a celebrated designer and stylist. She often took Tony to far-off lands to procure the best fabrics and meet other tradespeople, unknowingly passing down her skillset to her firstborn son. It wasn’t until she lost her battle with breast cancer in 2004 that Tony rediscovered his fascination with fashion and set off to continue his mother’s legacy.
Iyke was an educated engineer and a successful real estate professional by this time, and he had moved to the United States years prior. He spent years retracing his mother’s footsteps abroad. The fabric and garment makers and merchants he met as a kid remembered him. He was able to rediscover the trade just as his mother might have all those years before. When he returned to his home in Portland, Oregon, he took a big leap and opened The House of Rose, named for his mother.
His concept: to design one of a kind creations to help people look and feel their best.
“I believe that fashion is so personal,” says Iyke. “What we wear and how we present ourselves is so important to the way we’re received by the people around us. We ought to have some control over that, and be able to differentiate ourselves from the masses.”
Iyke got his first big celebrity client when Tommy Thayer, the famous guitarist from KISS, met him at a winery and literally bought the jacket Iyke was wearing off his back. Thayer then booked a private consultation with Iyke to design other custom pieces.
“I was taking client meetings from my home at the time,” reflects Iyke. “He didn’t mind a bit, and we spent hours in my living room taking measurements and collaborating on designs.”
By now, Iyke has experienced years of success as a custom designer, fashioning mostly suits and couture dresses among a branded selection of handmade leather bags. But he didn’t want to stop there.
“I kept thinking, ‘how can I scale this so more people can experience personalized fashion?’”
So Iyke amassed a group of tailors, training them in his quintessential design style and attention to detail.
“It took me another few years to find and train a network of tailors to have the capacity to scale,” says Iyke.
Now, he has a number of master tailors highly skilled in the art of garment creation to bring one-of-a-kind bespoke designs to life.
Last year, Iyke launched an e-commerce storefront, Designs by THOR (shorthand for The House of Rose) where consumers can engage in the design process online from around the world. His interface allows shoppers to customize their suit, fabrics and measurements, among other personalization tools.
Iyke is also expanding his physical footprint to accommodate consultations in-person with his tailors based in Lake Oswego, an upscale neighborhood in Portland, Oregon.
What’s next for Iyke?
“I firmly believe fashion is deeply personal and it’s a tool to celebrate our individuality. We’re going to expand our e-commerce storefront to include more formal and everyday wear options to make individual style accessible for everyone.”