Thom Browne on Catalyzing Creativity

Thom Browne is a New York based men's fashion designer. After graduating Notre Dame, Browne moved to Los Angeles to try his hand at acting. Though he landed a few commercials, he wasn't terribly successful. He realized his true calling was in fashion, and in 1997 moved to New York. His first job was as a salesman in Giorgio Armani's showroom; he moved to Club Monaco's design and merchandising departments before launching his own label in 2001.

Browne's designs are something of a throwback to a pre-business casual era: New York Magazine has described his work as evoking "a fetishized, black-and-white-movie masculinity." The Council of Fashion Designers of America awarded Browne 2006 Menswear Designer of the Year. Browne designs with a very specific impression in mind: "It's a very nice, very Continental, very charming world," he says.

  • Transcript


Topic: Creative triggers

Thom Browne: You know there’s nothing more inspirational than an old man walking down the street that looks like he’s had the same suit for 50 years. And there's something so timelessly beautiful about that. And you know now with the age of everything being a little more casual – sometimes a little too casual – guys, you know, almost the establishment being jeans and t-shirts, as opposed to I really feel like with what I do is almost the anti-establishment, which has kind of, you know, turned everything upside down because a suit actually becoming the anti-establishment I think is . . . there’s something really cool about that. I mean you look at . . . you look at old pictures of guys in, you know . . . at Yankee Stadium. And you look at the . . . almost the beautiful uniformity of that – of all the guys in ties, and jackets and hats. Or you look at, you know, iconic images of JFK before he became president, more . . . more like in his senatorial days. So I have those literal pictures in my head. But you know really my collections are based in almost the sensibility of that time; not literally what was done, because my jackets are significantly shorter, and it’s . . . what I do is significantly different; but it’s more the mindset of that guy back then; you know kind of when you look at Sean Connery in his early films, his early James Bond films. You know that guy that looks like everything was effortless; everything was . . . he was the coolest and the chicest guy; but the last thing he really thought about was actually how he was going to be looking. It was just the way he was. And that for me is what is the inspiration from that time.


Recorded on: 10/29/07