Thom Browne Explains What Makes A Personal Uniform So Powerful
The designer just received the Couture Council Award for Artistry in Fashion.
BY Jonathan Evans | Sep 13, 2017 | Fashion
Thom Browne is the kind of designer who, at this point, requires no introduction. But just in case you’re not up on your history, here’s a quick primer. He’s the man who reinvented the suit for the modern age by shrinking the proportions and making the grey flannel two-piece suddenly feel rebellious, not conformist. His runway shows are a spectacle of imagination and exquisite craftsmanship. And just last week, he was honoured with the Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion by the Couture Council of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
With more than a decade and a half at the helm of his own company under his belt—no small feat in today’s fashion world—Browne has become a fixture of American fashion. We caught up with him at Lincoln Center, where he received his most recent award, to talk about everything from the impact of fast fashion to why he thinks people should have more on their minds than what they’re going to wear each morning.
On winning the Couture Council Award:
It’s such an honour, but it’s nerve-wracking, too, because you have to get up and say something. But yeah, it’s a huge honour. What the Couture Council represents is something that is very important to me. Because they represent not just the concept of fashion and the conceptual side; they also really appreciate and they stress the importance of the craft of making clothes, which I think makes it so special.
On craftsmanship in the era of fast fashion:
You know, everybody approaches what they do their own way, and that’s great. But I think the appreciation of making things well is something that people should think about more.
Image from Getty. Thom Browne at his spring/summer 2018 show in Paris.
On his own line’s impact on the fashion world:
I just like doing what I do, and I guess by what I do, maybe people see [the craftsmanship]. Because I do approach my collections from a conceptual point of view and I think a pure design point of view, but the quality of how everything is made is just as important—and I think sometimes is more representative of the fashion in what I do.
On historical references in fashion:
I’m the furthest thing from being a historian of fashion, but I think the most important thing is that people approach their fashion in their way that keeps it true to them. And whether its referencing what’s been done in the past or doing something new, I think that’s what will keep it relevant today.
On knowing—and breaking—the rules:
I really didn’t know the rules [when I started out]. I instinctually just did something that was interesting to me and was referencing something definitely from the past. And in every collection there is a reference to something, but never too strong a reference that it becomes exactly what’s been done in the past. I think that’s what’s important to me.
On the pace of modern fashion:
Sometimes it’s easier than other times. It’s a lot, but you either do it or you don’t. You can approach it your own way, but I think it does become challenging in regards to true creativity, because, you know, it’s four times a year. It’s a good challenge for me.
On creating a personal uniform:
The idea of uniformity to me is interesting because I think it does show true individuality, and I think that it shows true confidence. I think it’s interesting when you see people that actually have more interesting things on their mind than what they’re putting on in the morning.