Thom Browne May Be Menswear's Most Underrated Hitmaker

Thom Browne May Be Menswear's Most Underrated Hitmaker

The cropped trousers and smart knits are only the tip of the iceberg for the NYC-based designer.

The cropped trousers and smart knits are only the tip of the iceberg for the NYC-based designer.

Text: Justin Ragolia

Because even the most updated tailoring has its roots in centuries-old, traditional ensembles, creating a suiting vibe that strikes a balance between the traditional and the experimental has proven a challenge for even the most seasoned fashion houses. It's within this territory, though, that Thom Browne has forever cemented his place in the menswear kingdom.

When his name's mentioned in the marble-floored lobby of a luxury department store in Midtown or on the ruthlessly stylish streets of Harajuku, an unmistakably distinct suiting uniform comes to mind. The three-time CFDA award winner's most recognizable kit is his shrunken-looking, gray flannel two-piece suit worn with a narrow-collared white shirt, tonal gray tie, clunky brogues bearing his signature red, white, and blue logo on the heel tab, and a generous portion of ankle showing between them and his heavily-cropped trousers. The look clearly draws inspiration from prep-school uniforms; a nod to this is his propensity for occasionally pairing swapping the lower half of his suiting kit with shorts cut from the same fabric.

IMAGE COURTESY OF THOM BROWNE

Despite his laundry list of design awards and accolades, though, his creations beyond the tried-and-true suiting line and four-stripe emblazoned knits simply don't get the love they deserve. Though he's established himself as a tailoring don, he's proven that he's not afraid of reinvention and experimentation. A testament to this is his unexpected beachwear line, headlined by a full-body technical wetsuit stitched to appear like a two-piece formal suit, an obvious wink at the iconicity of his trademark tailoring look. He's clearly not afraid to jump on his creative impulses. Who could forget his using his wire-haired dachshund as a muse for a new luxe leather bag each season, cut in his exact shape and likeness.

It's Mr. Browne's most recent runway endeavor, his SS18 show in Paris, though, that's proven the NYC-based designer's knack for innovation is reaching new heights. Were there cropped flannel suits, white pinstripes, repeated gray tones, and British schoolboy vibes on display? Absolutely. But featured in the show were all manner of pleated skirts, long button-ups designed to be worn like dresses, formal shoes with three-inch heels, and a tuxedo-wedding dress hybrid--all designed specifically as menswear offerings, proving that gender-bending is a concept he's open-minded and courageous enough to explore.

IMAGE COURTESY OF THOM BROWNE
IMAGE COURTESY OF THOM BROWNE
IMAGE COURTESY OF THOM BROWNE

While these probably aren't going to rake in sales like his new suiting options in on-trend, roomier cuts, that's kind of the point. Blazing through new territory and exploring gendered clothing norms is a serious statement, and shows that Browne will never be satisfied by the success of his high-end suiting, or at least not until he reinvents the genre entirely. And when this happens, we'd like to be along for the ride.

IMAGE COURTESY OF THOM BROWNE
IMAGE COURTESY OF THOM BROWNE
IMAGE COURTESY OF THOM BROWNE

UP NEXT

Trending: The Men's Carryall Gets A Fresh Revamp