In a world where menswear is constantly evolving and changing at a ferocious pace, you may expect that a brand with a very sartorial focus on classical men’s tailoring would get lost in the folds. Quite the opposite is true with Thom Browne. Since the inception of his eponymous label in 2003, Browne has in fact continued to innovate and surprise, both in terms of his couture shows, and his ready to wear lines.
Thom Browne actually never intended to design menswear; he set out in his youth to enter the world of big business, studying economics at the Ivy League college Notre Dame in Indiana. During his time at university he became fascinated with vintage suiting he’d pick up from thrift stores, and learned basic tailoring to alter these suits to the perfect fit for his body.
This hobby soon became a career path for Browne, gaining momentum as he first worked in showrooms for Giorgio Armani to eventually working directly with Ralph Lauren at Club Monaco. This experience with the giants of the industry allowed him to galvanize his craft, and gave him the platform he needed to launch his own label. This allowed him to express his ideas uninhibited by the boundaries of the brands he had previously worked for, and lead to him winning the DCA menswear designer of the year in 2013.
In his own words, Browne considers himself a ‘rebel’ in the fashion world. This may come as a shock when seeing his collections, filled with oxford shirts, wool suiting and a zealous use of the colour grey, however Browne considers the laid back ‘t shirt & jeans’ style to be the paradigm of modern menswear. When Browne originally launched his label, he was to an extent an iconoclast when examining the traditonal expectation of a tailored suit, with his rendition cutting away the excess to leave a markedly cropped shape compared to the prototypical offering. His label now exists as the more challenging aesthetic to men of this generation, daring men to ditch their white t shirt, blue jeans and sneakers for a suit jacket and some brogues, embracing a bold, contemporary yet still classic take on classic menswear.
In terms of fabric and production quality, Thom Browne garments are second to none. The majority of his cotton jersey or nylon pieces are manufactured in the most elite factories in Japan, and the tailoring hand cut and sewn in the USA. Browne’s attention to detail truly does extend to all facets of his label. For instance, the Irish knit sweaters produced every season are a recreation of the original garment; Browne literally tracked down the factories in Ireland that knitted the same woolen jumpers himself and his siblings wore as children, enlisting the artisanal expertise of this factory to craft woollen knits for his collections. This small consideration truly speaks to the parameters Browne sets for excellence and authenticity.
Thom Browne Ready to Wear and pre collections are truly some of the best crafted and wearable pieces of men’s clothing in the menswear world right now. The usual suspects are made up of the iconic sweat suit tastefully adorned with the stripe motif, alongside seasonal suiting and leather goods. Although the price points are considerably high, you receive a quality product of timeless style that can be worn for years if the right care is taken of it. There is something luxurious about each and every Thom Browne item, regardless of whether it has been produced regularly throughout the years, and they absolutely do not lose this intrinsic sense of worth over time.
In terms of Browne's runway presentations - the imagery speaks for itself. Although it is a far cry from the lines you see available on shop floors, the visual conversation Browne presents through his catwalk presentations is an insight into the scope of this designers imagination and creativity. The runway offerings centre heavily around his craft of tailoring and his unfaltering adoration of the colour grey. They are breathtaking, transfixing spectacles and it is inspiring to see a designer that still executes a runway show purely in the name of self expression through the medium of clothing.
Thom Browne is a designer already revered throughout the industry, both critically and in terms of financial success. One can only hope that he continues to grow as the years go by providing excellent, luxurious takes on a man's wardrobe staples as well as continuing to create enamouring runway shows that are the subject of fashion conversations for years to come.