Posted by Stephan Moskovic | April 6th, 2015

Models.com’s ICONS:
Toni Garrn

Top model Toni Garrn has accomplished much in her stellar career. With work with some of the biggest fashion and beauty brands like Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, L’Oreal, & Victoria’s Secret, she has been able to solidify many industry accomplishments, all before the tender age of 22. But her latest venture has nothing to do with fitting into a sample size frock or doing her best back-bending pose — it’s about saving the world, one jean at a time.

The model has teamed up as an ambassador with Plan International and their committed efforts towards educating girls throughout the World, specifically the recently tormented, Burkina Faso. We caught up with Toni to hear about her personal connection to the “Because I Am A Girl” project, more about the fundraiser campaign she’s done with Closed, and exactly what good the purchase of vintage designer trade can go towards.

Photography by ALIQUE
Styled by Maher Jridi
Make up by Sir John (Streeters New York)
Hair by Rita Marmor (Streeters New York)
Video by Tijl Dhe Nije
With special thanks to Women Management Paris

Shot at ATTIC Studios

Interview by Irene Ojo-Felix
Creative Direction by Stephan Moskovic

So Toni, when were you first discovered?

I got discovered at the World Cup when I was 13. At that time, I didn’t really know about modeling at all and had no idea what “Vogue” was. I got thrown into this and was very, very lucky. At the same time, I finished high school because I had a great support system at home — my parents made sure I kept going, my teachers were amazing, and my brother was very smart and always pushed me. Education was important to us.

You mentioned that you had the opportunity of finishing your A levels and school. How does that translate into the charity work that you’re now doing with the “Because I am a Girl” campaign?

Education is a simple human right and I think everybody should have access to it. I saw more and more of these countries where most of the girls couldn’t go to school because they had to take care of their family. They think that it’s normal to have a bunch of kids when they’re 14. With just a few more years of education they can learn that there is so much more.

How did you get involved? Why did you choose the campaign as your first charity?

My brother used to live in Capetown and just seeing what was going on in the real world compared to my “fashion” world, I really felt like they were big opposites. The more I modeled, the more you have free time as well because once I finished high school then I started working only twice a week and not everyday. I started getting enough money from modeling that I began sponsoring two children through the organization, Plan International. I would get updates about when they moved and the like. As I got older, I stayed with that charity because I felt like they did a good job and I reached out to them in the hopes of doing more than just sponsoring children.

So tell me more about the “Because I am a Girl” campaign? Where do proceeds go? How have you raised money for the charity?

This project partners German clothing brand, Closed, with Plan International and is focused on contributing proceeds from sales in order to provide an increase in the proportion of female teachers at schools in Burkina Faso. I designed jeans and t-shirts with them with proceeds going towards the “Because I Am A Girl” campaign. It’s a three-year scholarship and they needed about 600 women to become teachers to help educate the youth population. We started selling the pieces last September and now we’re at 588 teachers being educated. The women are between 20-25 years old. The site is a great way for consumers throughout the World to contribute to a great cause.

I also had a flea market during fashion week. I asked if the campaign budget was full and their response was there was still more to be done. I’ve been collecting clothes and accessories since I was 14 a lot of it was trade that I got from fashion shows and I put away. I had several suitcases at some point. I just thought I can’t give this away, there has to be a way to make this bigger and get money to help from it. I emailed every model friend I had and I got so much stuff. Kasia Struss, Arlenis Sosa, Karlie, Constance, Rianne Tenhaken, Sigrid, Christy Turlington. Liya gave me some nice pieces of her Lem Lem collection. It’s nice to make room in our NY apartments for a good reason. Spring Studios gave me a space, which is amazing. I steamed and tagged everything for a week and Google-d how much everything was worth in today’s market. In one day, we raised $20,000. People who came said “I wish I had heard about this sooner. I wish I could have given you more” so next time I think I’ll do it for at least 2-3 days.

Is there a plan in place as far as raising money for the charity in the future?

The problem is now that Ebola hit and the military took over at the end of the year, it has slowed things down. I haven’t been able to go back. It worries me but I want to try and help as much as I can. Now I’m going to Zimbabwe this coming August to continue the work we’ve started.

What was it like traveling to Burkina Faso?

It was insane. I’ve never been anywhere like that. It is one of the 5 poorest countries in the world so basically no infrastructure. No streets, no houses, nothing. The road is basically the city. But I saw these beautiful women doing everything with this stunning clothing wrapped around them. It’s hard because there is so much to do and you get overwhelmed by everything that is needed in order to improve.

What kind of advice does “Because I am a Girl” offer to people throughout the world? How do people support the organization?

Any kind of money helps because in Burkina Faso alone, Plan International has 180 people working there. UNICEF has more. As soon as funds come in, they build a school and educate. Of course awareness is great but really people just talking about it doesn’t help that much. If anyone wants to support the easiest way is to visit online to donate at becauseiamagirl.ca, plan.de, or planusa.org.

What’s on the horizon for the “Because I am a Girl” organization?

Plan International helps all over the world. For my ambassador position, I want to continue to focus on Africa as I see so much potential to grow and simply find it the most inspiring and beautiful place I’ve ever been to. I want to give the help I can and it’s also given me pleasure and purpose. I feel that I grow most by meeting different cultures and experiencing from the source.

To purchase pieces from the Toni Garrn for Closed line, please visit Closed.

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7 Comments to “Toni Garrn”

  1. Mango says:

    Wonderful article. Thanks!

  2. Radouane says:

    EPIC PHOTOGRAPHY!

  3. charles says:

    Great article and interview.

    Also, this is the most expressive I’ve ever seen Toni in pictures. Way to go to the photography team for getting expression out of her!

  4. sarasina says:

    Looking good Looking great! Good job!

  5. st says:

    Agree with Charles. This is the first time I’ve ever seen her this “expressive” before. I’ve never cared for her as a model, but today is a different story. I haven’t seen her entire body of work, but who can? Also, they usually airbrush her freckles and moles. Why? They look great!

  6. jerry sustaita says:

    love this website and myself

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