WORDS BY NERYS D’ESCLERCS
Known for impeccable craftsmanship and a boundary-pushing approach to gendered fashion, Thom Browne is the go-to name to meet this holiday season’s ‘classic with a twist’ dress code: think refined tailoring with signature grosgrain stripes, unisex pleated skirts, and those iconic dog-shaped bags (nicknamed Hector, after Browne’s own pet). Here, we take a deep dive into the brand’s origins, its signature uniform aesthetic, the new-season pieces to put on your radar, and what to know about Thom Browne sizing.
The history of Thom Browne
After studying business at Notre Dame University, a young Thom Browne initially moved to LA to try acting. After starring in a few commercials, he soon realized his skills lay elsewhere, and relocated to New York in 1997 to work as a Giorgio Armani salesman. He then moved on to Club Monaco — then owned by Polo Ralph Lauren — where Lauren himself saw Browne’s potential and hired him to be a part of Club Monaco’s design team. This experience led Browne to start his own eponymous fashion label in 2001 and bring a sense of ‘dressing up’ to everyday menswear; challenging the traditions of mens’ tailoring, playing with fashion’s gender rules, and adding sporty elements to suiting.
Since showing his debut collection at New York Fashion Week in 2004, Browne has been awarded the CFDA’s Menswear Designer of the Year title in 2006, 2013 and 2016, and GQ's Menswear Designer of the Year in 2008. This industry recognition secured Thom Browne collaborations with other established houses such as Moncler Gamme Bleu and Supreme.
In 2011, the brand launched a womenswear line, further expanding and strengthening its visual identity, and in August 2018, Italian luxury fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna acquired an 85% stake in the company.
The Thom Browne uniform
Inspired by the designer’s father, who wore a grey suit to work every day, Thom Browne’s pieces come in two main colors — grey and navy. The brand has no visible logo, but its signature design codes are so distinctive that they’re hard to miss. Horizontal stripes called 4-Bar; red, white, and blue grosgrain stripes, seen as armbands or running down the back of shirts and blazers; alongside playful animal motifs (like its founder’s dog, Hector, or dolphins) are what make Thom Browne designs so unique.
The brand is also known for its tailored, pleated skirts, which are an integral part of each season’s unisex collections. Coming in mini to maxi lengths, the Thom Browne skirt has become a symbol of modern fashion, and has been adopted by the likes of Canadian actor Dan Levy — who wore one as part of David Rose’s wedding outfit in ‘Schitt’s Creek’, and on the red carpet of the 2020 Primetime Emmys where he won four awards for the same show — and rapper Lil Uzi Vert at this year’s Met Gala.
Thom Brown’s new FW21 collection: the key pieces
This season, Thom Browne does what it does best: tailoring in all shades of grey, including checked suits, patchwork pieces and a mix of both. The playful animal-shaped bags are here too, in the form of Hector, a whale, a tiger and a rabbit (coming this winter in season-defining shearling).
For the launch of the brand’s new pieces on FARFETCH, we celebrate togetherness through a diverse global lens with a partnership with Nataal — the global media brand celebrating contemporary African fashion, music, arts and culture. We asked three photographers to interpret Thom Browne’s new FW21 collection with the help of their own personal communities: photographer Djeneba Aduayom shoots artists Kolby, Byron and William in Los Angeles (as seen in these pictures); photographer Arielle Bobb-Willis shoots model Symone Lu and friends in New York; and photographer Ismail Zaidy shoots his siblings Othmane and Fatima Zahra in the Atlas Mountains. Nataal’s associate editor, Miriam Bouteba, explains of the images: ‘Each story, from a skater crew in NYC to multidisciplinary artists in LA, uses Thom Browne’s impeccable tailoring — itself a play on gender norms — to express the importance of unity, kinship and the power of ‘we’.’
The Thom Browne size and fit guide
Thom Browne pieces are generally tailored with a slim fit. Knowing your own measurements is key in ensuring the items you select will fit correctly. On FARFETCH, Thom Browne sizing goes from 00 (equating to XXS) to 7 (equating to 4XL). The brand’s knitwear and outerwear is designed to be worn cropped and some items labeled as ‘slim’ will also tend to fit a bit smaller, so do keep this in mind when ordering. Please note that this is only a guide based on FARFETCH’s sizing charts. Measurements may vary slightly on Thom Browne’s own website.