There isn’t another fashion house around that can say they own a certain look, but when it comes to cropped silhouettes, Thom Browne and his signature line of grey suits is its master. Inspired by his father, who wore a grey suit to work everyday, Browne’s leans heavily on just two colors—grey and navy—to put together masterful collections of suits, shirts, sweaters, bottoms, and more. The brand has no logo, but the distinguished cropped silhouette of a piece, combined with visual identifiers like his four white horizontal stripes or the red, white, and blue grosgrain, is what makes a Thom Browne piece so unique. A CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year Award winner three times over, Browne and his label have come to define what a modern “uniform” looks like for not only the white collar worker, but for anyone invested in an Americana aesthetic.
Browne leaves his design job at Club Monaco to launch his own fashion label.
Debuts his first collection of ready-to-wear menswear.
Wins the CFDA’s Menswear Designer of the Year award. Begins transitioning his retail shop in New York City from an appointment-only made-to-measure business into the brand’s first proper retail store. He also partners with Brooks Brothers as part of a guest designer program to create a 50-piece men’s and women’s collection called Black Fleece by Brooks Brothers.
Black Fleece by Brooks Brothers debuts in stores, and is so successful that Browne and Brooks Brothers agree to extend their partnership. Moncler also enlists Browne to design Moncler Gamme Bleu, a men’s top line collection. Browne wins GQ Designer of the Year in 2008.
Moncler Gamme Bleu launches and is later shown at Milan Fashion Week.
Browne collaborates with Supreme on a chambray button-down collared shirt.
Browne launches womenswear at New York Fashion Week. A 20 percent investment in Thom Browne is made by Japanese apparel company Stripe International, enabling him to open retail shops across Asia.
Looking to bring his pieces to a wider audience for a lower price-point, Browne and Barney’s collaborate on a collection called Thom Grey. It fizzles out by the end of 2013, but Browne wins CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year Award again. First Lady Michelle Obama also wears Thom Browne at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, arguably earning the brand its biggest slice of publicity to date.
Browne and Brooks Brothers end their partnership.
Browne wins CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year Award for a third time. Private equity firm Sandbridge Hill Capital buys Stripe International’s 20 percent stake in the brand and increases its overall share to 67 percent, making Browne a minority owner in his own business for the first time.
Announces partnership with Barcelona FC to tailor players in Thom Browne suits on matchdays. Ermenegildo Zegna buys 85 percent of the brand at a $500 million valuation. Browne remains the only other shareholder at 15 percent, and is retained as the brand’s chief creative officer.
|New York, USA|
There are two types of stripes. There are the four evenly-spaced horizontal white stripes (it used to be three until adidas sued him) on the left sleeve or leg of his button-downs and bottoms. On suits and on some other pieces, he uses a tri-color red, white, and blue grosgrain as a branding identifier. There’s no specific meaning or story behind the usage of the stripes besides its aesthetic utility. The stripes provide a uniform American look that’s at the heart of every Browne collection, and most importantly, with many fashion houses going for more cropped silhouettes in their own collections, the stripes act as a branding tool for Browne—if you couldn’t tell it was a Thom Browne piece by just looking at the cut, you can definitely tell by what stripes are used on the piece and where they’re placed.
Early on in his life, while living in Los Angeles trying to become an actor, Browne lived with the designer Johnson Hartig, who’d later found the clothing brand Libertine. Inspired by Hartig’s experiments on vintage clothing, Browne decided to put old suits into a dryer to shrink them—just to see how’d they’d turn out. The results were promising and potentially boundary-breaking, and they acted as the prototypes for today’s signature Thom Browne shrunken suits.