Fashion Tips From Tom of Finland

Durk Dehner, who heads the Tom of Finland Foundation, never shifts gears. Biker style is just part of his DNA; now, he’s telling LAMag how he got that heavy look

DURK DEHNER has been president of the Tom of Finland Foundation, headquartered in Echo Park, for almost 40 years—ever since he met and interacted with Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen, aka Tom of Finland. Laaksonen was drawing biker dudes even before he saw the iconic 1953 movie The Wild One. But “once he saw Brando in black leather, he stopped drawing brown leather and only drew black,” Dehner says. “He drew that motorcycle cap in black leather—and that became biker style.” Art and style are as much a part of Dehner’s job as they are his look. This year, the foundation collaborated with clothing designers Jonathan Anderson and Glenn Martens, who, he says, “both remind me how much fashion is art.” Before Dehner met Laaksonen, he had already developed an affinity for motorcycle guys. “I bought my first gear in New York, and I’ve been wearing it most of the time ever since,” he says. “Black leather has always been intrinsic to my self-representation. I wear it all year. It’s my second skin.”

BOOTS: “There is a discipline to putting these thirty-hole Grinders boots by British Boot Company on. It is a process of meditation—the lacing, the pulling, the tugging. But in the end, it’s a feeling of solid comfort.”

NECKLACES: “Brian Harman and Peter Yadusky of Tribal Son put their heart and soul into the sterling silver jewelry they handcraft. I am so proud of the pieces I own.

SHIRT: “A leather man wants to feel put together in the gear he is wearing. Adrian Bernal of Rough Trade Gear engineers confidence into everything he tailors—like this shirt.”

TIE: “I wear ties all the time, and this leather one from Mister B in Berlin is the perfect way to formalize this look.”

JACKET: “Our friends at Ben Orson Leather in Duarte made this jacket an easy choice for me—classic, heavy, and form-fitting. You tell them what you want, and they design it just for you.

GLOVES: Tough Gloves makes the thinnest specialty gloves on the market, and they are designed for heavy-duty use. Great on the bike!”

BELT BUCKLE: “Our foundation has made this Tom of Finland sterling belt buckle for special friends and supporters.”

PANTS: Langlitz Leathers in Portland, Oregon, are the Cadillac of gear for the true fetishist. With a custom fit, there is nothing finer. Tom took the jodhpur from cavalry riders and breeches from motorcycle police and made this trouser iconic.”

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This story is featured in the October 2022 issue of Los Angeles