A new take on menswear

Through his reimagining of the suit, American designer Thom Browne has revolutionised the way men dress

Designer Profile

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Designer Thom Browne photographed by Chin-Kai Shih.

Since launching his namesake label, Browne has presented a raft of highly-theatrical, daring men’s collections that have intrigued and delighted viewers, including oversized lobster- and whale-prints (spring 2013), Amish-style hats and fur coats (fall 2013) and 1920s-style fringed flapper dresses (spring 2012). But these collections, along with those under his artistic director at Moncler Gamme Bleu, share one thing in common: their rigorous underpinning of traditional suiting. The prints may be wacky, the make-up colourful and the proportions so greatly exploded that the clothes seem revolutionary, but every item of clothing Browne sends down his runway – or presents on his stage, as is often the case – is merely an extension of those grey suits he himself wears each day.

Wool looks from the Thom Browne fall/winter 2016 collection.

But, of course, Browne’s particular brand of suiting is far from the regular off-the-rack numbers that fill department stores, although even they too have come to be influenced by his aesthetic. Flat-fronted, high-waisted, cropped trousers (or mid thigh-length shorts) and narrow-lapelled blazers, cut off mid-wrist and not nearly covering backside, Browne’s signature suit looks “as though the laundry had shrunk it with him inside”, wrote Guy Trebay in the New York Times.


“We’re using more wool in our collections each year and its natural benefits such as breathability and shape retention mean it is perfect for lightweight suiting.”

Indeed, when the fashion world at-large was busy producing long, extremely lean silhouettes by the million – an aftershock of the skinny-jeans movement pioneered by Hedi Slimane, then of Dior Homme, and Raf Simons –Browne presented a new vision for what menswear could be, inspired by a sort of 1960s American businessman’s aesthetic, popularised by television shows like Mad Men. If it weren’t for the shrunken proportions and adherence to traditional styling – the wool suits are best worn formally, with a white shirt, tie and polished shoes – they might be considered conservative, but the way Browne twists and evolves it each season is testament to his unique design talent; he embodies an almost punkish sensibility to reject conventional notions of what constitutes a well-dressed man.

Wool looks from the Thom Browne fall/winter 2016 collection.

This season, in collaboration with The Woolmark Company, Browne has crafted them from 100% wool, heightening their durability and sense of luxury. “Wool has long been an essential element of my collection and this partnership with The Woolmark Company allows me to further explore the possibilities and boundless potential of the fibre,” explains Browne. “We’re using more wool in our collections each year and its natural benefits such as breathability and shape retention mean it is perfect for lightweight suiting. I’m excited about the prospect of these collaborative collections with Woolmark.”

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