With the help of some savvy self-promotion and, perhaps, a perfectly timed DM on social media, Los Angeles-based stylist Toreno Winn was able to turn a side hustle into his dream job. While making clients look their most stylish is Winn’s main career objective now, the multi-hyphenate is also a self-taught photographer and creative director.
One of his most high-profile clients is R&B star DaniLeigh, whose 2018 rendition of the “In My Feelings” challenge went viral on Instagram. It’s Winn’s sporty aesthetic that caught our attention, which is why we tapped him to style a lookbook featuring the adidas Superstar, a shoe that’s celebrating 50 years and has an equally impressive history with the music world.
We spoke to Winn about his career, personal style, how he connected with DaniLeigh, and his advice for emerging creatives looking to blaze their own trail.
How did you get your start as a fashion stylist?
Long story short, I met a waiter at an event. He asked, "Are you a rapper?" because it was a music premiere. He didn't know I was a stylist, he thought I was a rapper. I told him, "No, I'm actually a stylist." He said, "I can tell. I saw your outfit. I might have a job for you in a couple of weeks."
He called me two weeks later. “I got a magazine that wants me to model for them, and I want you to style me." I was like "Okay, what size are you? What are your sizes?" They were the same sizes as [me], so I was like, "I'll style you out of my closet, I'll just dress you how I dress myself." I put it on social media, and I got good feedback from people I know.
How do you incorporate your personal style into your work?
My personal style is derived from a heavy basketball culture because I grew up playing ball my whole life. I was always into sneakers, and then it evolved into being clothes and sneakers. I was super into anime and Japanese culture as a kid as well … my personal style just kind of came from there.
I always try to be left of center. I was the kid on the court where the coach was like, "Everybody's got to wear the same shoes." I was like, "All right, can I wear different socks? Can I wear a different undershirt?" I just hated always looking like a uniform of a person. So that kind of influenced my style. It allowed me to figure out other things that a lot of people wouldn't look at typically. They'd be like, "I didn't think that was even something that could go with something else." But I make it look good based on how I tie things together.
Are there particular people who inspire your style?
It might throw you off, but I would say Andre 3000. Between him and Snoop Dogg, they're both my hair inspirations because my hair is so long. I love Andre  because in the “Hey Ya” video, he's got the flat fresh and the bob, and in other videos, he's got his hair all crazy, and then he's got braids.
My next is Prince because he was that one guy that a lot of people didn't understand, but they still had a relationship with him. He was an anomaly, and I thought that was so cool. He was always left of center, not afraid to do something a little bit more… feminine. His outfits were crazy.
Lil B is my X-factor. He was always like, ‘I just don't care. I don't care what nobody says, I'm going to do what I do. I'm just going to be myself.’ People kind of drown him out, and they don't show him as much love that he deserves.
The last person is Allen Iverson. He was the OG in hoops that I looked up to. I modeled my game after him, and I just loved his outfits on and off the court; super baggy, even the shorts and the pants. I even sagged [my pants]. My mom hated it, but I sagged because of him.
I’m curious about your connection to the adidas Superstar, a shoe that’s super accessible and celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It also happens to be the shoe you styled your lookbook with for this shoot. Do you have any fond memories of adidas?
Our school was sponsored by adidas in high school which was tight because at the time, especially for a school in Orange County, that really was unheard of. The Superstar is just a classic, man. It's a classic hip-hop staple, with Run DMC doing the full adidas track suits with Superstars, the laces and tongues out.
I'm a huge Jeremy Scott fan. 2009 was when the [Jeremy Scott x adidas] Wings came out, and it came out the same year Kid Cudi came out; I was a big Cudi fan.
Could you tell me a little bit about your vision for styling this shoot?
I had this idea with the hairstylist, and we wanted to do different hairstyles for every look. I just wanted to do some different hairstyles, because my hair is so long. My mom and dad blessed me with good ass hair. So people tell me, "Your hair is so long, and it's so cool. You could have so many options."
What’s it like styling and working with DaniLeigh?
Our relationship started with a DM [on social media]. She commented, "I need that crew neck." I commented back, "You can pull it whenever you want." Five or ten minutes later, I get a DM and it was her. She was just like "I peeked through all your stuff. Your work is mad dope. I want to work with you on some type of level sometime soon."
Dani's not my only client, but she's my most consistent. We kick it, I go on trips with her and the whole team. When she tags me [in social media posts], my homies will go in the photos and look. They'll be like "I see you Toreno," showing love.
It's funny because people always say she's my styling soulmate. Our chemistry is good and we balance each other well. It's a breath of fresh air to meet someone that’s just like "I'm down to try whatever you have as long as it's something that I feel comfortable wearing." After a while, you come to feel the same type of relationship and connection and you're over here like "All right, cool. I know what you like, I know what you don't like, I know how to make sure you look like the best version of yourself."
What’s your advice for young creatives who are looking to blaze their own trails in the fashion world like you did?
A final word to my fellow creatives, time is the ultimate luxury we can’t afford to waste. Money comes and goes, but the time you choose to spend on anything no matter what it is can’t be bought or brought back. On the reverse, the time you put into perfecting and evolving your craft or enjoying life itself is something no one can take from you. Everything in moderation of course. Invest your time wisely. Invest in you with the utmost faith.