Robert Tonner’s early interest in creating immaculately detailed drawings led to a career in fashion. After graduating from Parsons School of Design, Tonner was hired by Bill Blass to design his Sportswear line, Blassport. Throughout his 7th Avenue career, Tonner’s spin on modern American dressing continually caught the eye of the fashion world’s trend-spotters—his designs were frequently featured in Women’s Wear Daily, Town & Country, New York Magazine, the New York Times and Vogue.
Tonner’s long-time fascination with sculpting and doll art inspired him to try his hand at sculpting original figures. In 1988, Tonner was asked to join the elite National Institute of American Doll Artists (NIADA). During the years that followed, Tonner turned more of his attention to developing and perfecting his doll designs, eventually leaving 7th Avenue to start the Robert Tonner Doll Company, Inc. in 1991.
Tonner’s initial recognition came from many proprietary characters with their rich back stories and highly detailed clothing and accessories. This recognition resulted in product being sold in some of the most exclusive retail stores in the world, such as FAO Schwarz, Saks Fifth Avenue and Harrods in London, just to name a few.
However, it wasn’t just his own character designs that gained notoriety. His interest in modern pop-culture resulted in numerous licensing agreements with some of the world’s top companies such as Disney, Warner Brothers, DC, Sony and many more. Harry Potter, Big Bang Theory, Twilight, Avatar, Superman, Spider-Man and Snoopy are just a few of the many characters that Tonner has brought to life in doll form. That same fascination drove Tonner to also delve into the toy market. Working with strategic partners he introduced lines such as Magic Attic, Little MissMatched, City Girls and Tween Scene.
The Tonner Doll Company has, over the years, been a generous supporter of various charitable causes with time, product and financial support for charities such as AmFAR, A Friends House, the SPCA, Health Alliance Hospital and Action on Addiction, among many others.
Tonner Doll Company currently offers a selection of licensed products with extensive distribution. Robert Tonner’s newest venture, Phyn & Aero, offers a creative venues for Tonner to work with some of today’s most innovative new designers (both in fashion and doll design) including Andrew Yang and Ryan Roche.