Is Thom Browne the Most Underestimated Designer in New York?

, , Comments Off on Is Thom Browne the Most Underestimated Designer in New York?

Going into the headquarters of the designer Thom Browne, whose spring 2018 men’s wear collection will be unveiled in Paris on Sunday, is like falling down a rabbit hole.

Not just because it is in the garment district of New York rather than the École des Beaux-Arts in the Sixth Arrondissement, but also because when you step off the elevator on the 15th floor of his building, you find yourself in front of a glass door without a sign or a logo but with a doorbell and the kind of white louvered shades you normally find in a dentist office or an accountancy firm.

And because behind that door is a long gray-walled corridor with a gray terrazzo floor, leading at the far end to two facing doors, which open to reveal men and women running about in variants of the same uniform: gray tailored Buster Brown shorts or trousers cropped to show the ankle; white shirts; gray ties with tie clips, often tucked into the high waistbands of their trousers; shrunken schoolboy jackets; knit vests; pleated gray skirts; and black brogues, all of them working in rooms with the same gray terrazzo floors, gray marble walls and louvered blinds, all of them speaking in hushed tones, united in a single mission: to disseminate the Look of Browne as widely, and virally, as possible.


Mr. Browne announced the debut of his first American store dedicated to women’s clothing in June.

You’ve heard of the Man in the Gray Flannel Suit? Take that, invert it so that it becomes intricately individual, and detail it for a coed army.

Continue reading the main story

It’s easy to dismiss that ambition as fashion fantasy. In fact, up to now it has been largely dismissed, most often with an aside about fashion insiders and those damning words “conceptual” and “niche.”

Except, it turns out, this niche is a rapidly expanding territory. “I was talking to someone about Thom Browne the other day, and they said, ‘But that business is not that big,’” said Danielle Vitale, chief executive of Barneys New York. “And I said: ‘What? It’s huge!’”

“Huge” may be something of an exaggeration, but it is probably not overstating the matter to say that Thom Browne may be the most underestimated not-just-a-men’s-wear-designer in New York.

Which is partly why he is moving his women’s wear