Tokidoki Creator Simone Legno Talks Creating Successful Fashion Collaborations

A CHARACTERFUL UNIVERSE. From eye-catching characters to the entire tokidoki universe, Simone Legno took the spotlight at the last Indonesia Comic Con


Simone Legno
Simone Legno


Milk, donuts and cactus—things that seem so simple and mundane to many turn quirky and inspiring in the hands of Simone Legno. The Roman artist has created characters based on Japanese culture aesthetic influences from Italy and Los Angeles. He called them “tokidoki,” which means “sometimes” in Japanese.

Today, he works his creations into various merchandise and collaborated with the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, LeSportsac, Onitsuka Tiger, Marvel and Levi’s under the tokidoki brand.


DA MAN: Tokidoki characters are anime-like, but it is interesting to see how they are also based on your life in Italy. How did you develop your own aesthetics from that “clash” of cultures?
Simone Legno: Tokidoki is the diary of my life and an evolving project. It constantly changes depending on my life experiences. When I was a little child, I was in love with Japanese culture, and it hasn’t changed since. I was impressed by everything from cherry blossoms, rice balls, kimonos, kendo armor, Fuji Mountain, to the tranquility of the countryside. Time passed and I had the opportunity to move to the U.S. to transform my artistic concept—“tokidoki”—into a company. The 12-year experience in L.A. made me absorb a lot of street culture and street art.


A swarm of tokidoki characters


DA MAN: You have collaborated with a lot of brands and big companies. What do you think is the key to a successful collaboration?
Simone Legno: I think the formula to a successful collaboration is to be innovative by doing something very different from what has been done before but, at the same time, respect the history, heritage and philosophy of the brand. I like to introduce new characters or icons and make a unique launch special for tokidoki fans.

DA MAN: You summed up tokidoki as “the hope, the hidden energy that everyone has inside.” What is it for you personally?
Simone Legno: Making tokidoki a global success while sharing my art and philosophy with people all over the world is my biggest motivation. It’s not an easy target and I’ve dedicated the last 15 years to it and will probably be doing it for the rest of my life. Dreaming of it and desiring it wholeheartedly gives me the passion, energy and iron will to accomplish what seemed impossible.


tokidoki art star wars-2
A black and white piece showcasing Japanese aesthetics as well as Western pop culture, shown at the Indonesia Comic Con