Red, white and blue logos, exquisite tailoring suits… When talking about Thom Browne, many iconic elements will instantly emerge. This designer who loves gray suits has single-handedly created a clothing aesthetic with a strong personal imprint. Starting from five suits in a small store in New York in 2001, the brand was officially established in 2003. In 2005, it launched its first men’s ready-to-wear series at New York Fashion Week. In 2006, it opened its first flagship store in New York, opening in 2009 and 2011 respectively. Appearing on Pitti Uomo and Paris Fashion Week, joining the Zegna Group in 2018, it has now become a fashion empire delivering a complete lifestyle, and the brand is celebrating its 20th anniversary in a blink of an eye.
As founder Thom Browne visited Shanghai to hold a 20th anniversary event, Hypebeast invited the designer to share his personal status and brand vision with us. Before the event, we met Thom Browne in the living room. This designer is still as people remember him – always wearing a gray suit meticulously. “Besides commemorating the 20th anniversary, what have you been busy with lately?”
“Except for this?” Thom Browne laughed, “That’s probably not too much. We have been very busy recently and just came back from Tokyo and Seoul.” From the Haute Couture series shown at Paris Fashion Week in July, To complete the brand commemorative book, he said that the past summer was very busy, “Now we are showing this book to the world.”
The book Thom Browne mentioned is a brand commemorative book in cooperation with the publisher Phaidon. It was personally planned and written by Andrew Bolton, dean of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, with the preface “The Gray Manifesto”. As the first monograph about Thom Browne, the book uses the photos taken by photographer Johnny Dufort as a timeline, showing more than 200 sets of show looks, and the binding is done by the well-known graphic designer Ima Boom.
“This is a great project because I get to work with Andrew,” Thom Browne said bluntly, saying that he is the wisest person in the fashion industry. “Through his eyes, I see my work over the past 20 years, and he has so much respect for me. I know it very well.” As the person closest to Thom Browne, Andrew Bolton allows readers to see various moments of the brand in the past twenty years through his own perspective.
As Thom Browne said, the 20th anniversary commemoration activities have already begun with the haute couture show in July. As the brand’s first haute couture series, the show continued the usual dramatic intensity of Thom Browne’s shows. In addition to the formal variations of strange silhouettes on the catwalk, the Paris Opera House (Opéra Garnier) was filled with two-dimensional audiences in gray suits.
When asked about the inspiration for the show, Thom Browne said that inspiration comes from different places, whether it is architecture, art or books, while the inspiration for the last season’s haute couture show came more from music. In the show music, the switch between opera and Visage’s famous song “Fade to Grey” is also in line with Thom Browne’s design concept of overlapping classics and avant-garde. “But the most important thing is that I don’t lock my inspiration in one specific place.”
In addition to the first season haute couture series, the first monograph, and a capsule series decorated with “2003” to pay tribute to the year of founding, Thom Browne himself also officially became an American fashion designer in January this year. Committee (CFDA) Chairman. 2023 seems to be a special year for him. Now entering the CFDA in a new capacity (he has won the CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year Award in 2006, 2013, and 2016 respectively), Thom Browne said that taking on the position of chairman is a celebration of the career he has established in the United States. , and also to express his gratitude to the industry that has given him so much. He believes that the most important thing is to bring his own experience to this work, which is not completely separate from his design work, but has been integrated into his work and become a part of it.
Joint collaboration seems to be a topic that has been with the Thom Browne brand since its early days. From the branch line Black Fleece that collaborated with Brooks Brothers in the early years, the Gamme Bleu series designed for Moncler, to the joint mobile phones launched by Samsung, and recently people saw the chef uniforms with red, white and blue labels in the American TV series “The Bear”. Thom Browne has launched many unexpected collaborations over the past two decades.
Regarding the criteria for selecting partners for collaboration, the designer said that these collaborations can actually be boiled down to some “fun things”, which are very natural and unforced, based on mutual appreciation between both parties. “Like Samsung, they really appreciate the true combination of design and technology. We’ve done several projects together over the years, and the results have been very good. As for “The Bear,” it’s just a matter of attention and appreciation for the show and the actors in it. ”
Unlike the colorful creations, Thom Browne revealed that his day is actually “very boring.” “After I wake up, I usually go for a run or do some exercise, then start the day’s work, and then go home from work.” As for the time lapse. After coming to Shanghai again after many years, Thom Browne said that although he has not yet had time to experience the new changes, he very much appreciates the desire of people in this city for new things. “This makes me feel great. This kind of appreciation is always inspiring.” .” This also seems to be reflected in the brand’s emphasis on the Greater China market. According to the group’s financial report, the Thom Browne brand opened 13 new stores between June 30, 2022 and June 30, 2023, with the total number of directly operated stores reaching There are 66 stores, of which 49 are in the Asia-Pacific region, and more than 30 stores have been opened in China alone in the past five years.
Now that the brand has gone through twenty years, it is important to look back on the past, but Thom Browne is more focused on how the brand should grow in the next step. “The most important thing is to make sure we do the best we can because there’s still a lot to do and you’ll see the design and business evolve in the best way every season and that will never change.” When pressed if there would be After the new product line, Thom Browne started to talk to us, “Probably haha.” I believe that in the next twenty years, Thom Browne will continue to surprise people.