Designer File: Thom Browne

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Thom Browne works with daydreams. Sometimes fashion can feel repetitive, but Browne’s collections come highly anticipated and unpredictable season after season. The designer took home the Menswear Designer of the Year award at last year’s CFDAs, where Marc Jacobs and Beyoncé also picked up prestigious awards. As evidenced through his outlandish collections and breathtaking fashion shows, Browne’s imaginative talent cannot be reined in.

Browne moved to New York in 1997 to work at Giorgio Armani, before setting up his own label. His collections may be avant garde, but the excellent tailoring makes them wearable, to those who can afford it. Namely, Michelle Obama, who donned a Thom Browne look at her husband’s inauguration. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Eddie Redmayne have also been spotted wearing Thom Browne on the red carpet.


Since most of his career has been focused in the menswear arena, Browne is not as well-known outside of the industry as other similarly successful womenswear designers. His womenswear debut was in 2003, but Browne is still predominantly known for menswear. Though several celebrities have worn his clothes, Browne prefers to stay out of the spotlight. Interviews with him are sparse, but the clothes speak volumes. Each show is a spectacle, helping Browne ride the wave of social media where photographs of his designs are shared on Twitter and Instagram due to their inarguable beauty.

The Thom Browne brand began with reinventing menswear by injecting a refreshing eccentricity to classic tailoring. He still shows a menswear collection on top of womenswear each season. Browne’s Spring 2017 menswear collection is broadly similar to the brand’s overall aesthetic. Menswear is decentred as classic suits are mixed with unconventional headwear and jackets made of feathers. It is as though the clothes exist in a parallel universe where everything is slightly off balance. Browne gives us exclusive access to that world.

Browne designs clothes that have a story to tell. For example, his ‘Alice in Wonderland’ inspired Spring/Summer 2015 collection went down the rabbit hole to a place where eccentricity reigns. The myriad of shapes and colours that Browne invented were often so bizarre that it very much felt as though the show was set in Wonderland. Never lacking in originality, the collection avoided cliché blue Alice dresses. Instead it opted for striking headdresses as a nod towards the Mad Hatter and bold floral prints splashed across many of the outfits. Browne invents characters through his clothes. With each model that walks down the catwalk, you wonder where they could be going dressed like that. They are so brilliantly unconventional that it inspires all kinds of ideas.


Ultimately, Browne strikes the perfect balance between versatility and creativity. By mixing experimental pieces with simple suits, he is uncompromising with his art, but also runs a sustainable business where people want to buy the clothes. Whether a buyer or simply an observer, Thom Browne is definitely worth keeping up with.

Words by Sophie Wilson 

Lauren and Flora are your fashion editors

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