The Funky Punky Mind of Simone Legno of Tokidoki

On a stormy December afternoon, I met up for an exclusive media interview with Simone Legno, who is the iconic creator and founder of the tokidoki empire, who was briefly back in town for the Singapore Comic Con which he has never missed since its inception.

Fully decked out in his signature black sartorial style from top to toe, Simone was on the dot punctual to have a glass of wine and charcuterie board together with me at the swanky Bottega Di Carna which is located over at the newly opened art-themed Mondrian hotel in the hip Duxton district of downtown Singapore. As the artist and creative force behind the international cult brand tokidoki that we have all grown to adore, Simone candidly shares with us some of the intricacies that contributes to his success in work and life.

L: How and what do you do to keep fit and stay physically and mentally healthy?

S: Keeping healthy is mandatory for me as I work approximately 16 hours everyday. I work out regularly at the gym six times a week in the early mornings around 4.30am or 5am after my work calls with my team in L.A. (Los Angeles). I allow my body to rest for one day per week.

I also do a lot of boxing to keep fit. I have been boxing for almost 20 years. Boxing helps me to release tension and stress. I used to be a very anxious person when I was younger, and boxing has helped me to alleviate my anxiety levels, and allows me to have better focus in my work. I also like to take cold showers as it keeps me alert and helps to boost my immunity.

L: What do you actually eat on a regular basis?

S: I eat meals that are similar to a keto diet. Lots of healthy fats such as olive oil. I am Italian and so naturally of course I love pasta and pizza, but I limit my carb intake now that I am already 46 years old. I take a lot of sashimi since I live in Japan. I always travel with two bags of walnuts in my luggage. They are so good and healthy for you. 

L: How and what do you do to maintain your family and work life balance with your busy schedule?

S: It is very challenging indeed as I love my job and also my family. I personally take my kids to school whenever I can. As an Italian, family time is very important. I also adopt and cultivate traditional Asian values with my children and make sure that they are disciplined enough to sit down together for a proper dinner. I wish to instil in them a sense of pride and belonging, and pass the tokidoki brand over to my kids as the brand is part of our family legacy.

L: What was a defining moment in your career? Could you share a memory of a life changing moment and how it transformed you.

S: Being talent spotted by my co-founder and business partner Pooneh Mohajer back when I was only about 25 years old was the key defining moment in my career as it changed my thought process from that of being just an indie graphic designer to evolve into a businessman with a structured international company.

I am not easily starstruck by celebrities, but I was shaking and in awe when I met Karl Lagerfeld as he is an iconic legend. His first words to me were, “Finally we meet.” That took me by surprise as I was only just a few years into my career at that time. I will never forget that moment.

L: Can you expand on the contrasts that are clearly evident in your art?

S: If you look at the tokidoki logo, it is a heart with crossbones underneath. It denotes romance and yet infuses a sense of rock and roll. I was in a punk rock band for 10 years, so the logo represents my personality and expresses an element of dualism. Like the balance of opposites that come together in a harmonious manner. Colourful and dark. Edgy and the super sweet. East meets West. Sexy and cute. Personally, I can be extremely serious but yet also a super softie at the same time. So the tokidoki brand reflects my yin and yang Gemini personality.

L: You are living both your ikigai and your tokidoki. What advice do you have for others on how they can also do the same?
S: First of all, I wish to say that it’s much harder than people think. I had to make many sacrifices along the way, such as spending time away from my family and loved ones such as my beloved mother that I miss so much. I work very hard and long hours even during holidays like Thanksgiving. I am constantly working but developing the brand is my passion and life. Sometimes, I am really so tired and exhausted. My advice would be to be your true authentic self, and to develop your own personal style and identity. Do not copy others as number two will never replace number one. I am always very grateful for all of my opportunities and success. I feel very blessed.

L: What is up next for tokidoki? Please share some exciting new projects that are in the pipeline.

S: 2024 will be a huge turning point for tokidoki and 2025 will be our 20th anniversary for the brand. We plan to have 60 tokidoki retail outlets in China by the end of 2024 and 100 stores by 2025. I also have an animation projection collaboration with Warner Media and Thunderbird Entertainment that is keeping me busy all throughout 2024 as we hope to release the film in 2025 – in time for the 20th anniversary of tokidoki. There are some exciting projects that I am unable to share at the moment due to non disclosure agreements. But there are many many things coming, so stay tuned!

Images: Luke Elijah

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