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.
Question: Do you have a creative process?
Thom Browne: And it’s not the type of thing that I ever sit down and go, like, “Okay I’m gonna design now.” I watch a lot of movies. I read a lot of books. I see people out on the street, which is a huge inspiration for me. And also I . . . You know sometimes I just lie on my bed and close my eyes and just think of crazy ideas that could become something interesting. Or . . . or even looking at old women’s couture designers and seeing how you can twist that in a way to make it interesting and look masculine for a guy. You know so there’s so many different ways, but I’m not typical in a way of, like, tearing things out of magazines and, like, putting things on boards and the . . . And I do challenge all my designers that work for me too like . . . I never want them to look in magazines. I don’t wanna see inspiration boards, because in a way I never like people to get too locked into seeing something right in front of them. If you . . . I always find like if you see something that’s inspiring, you should look at it and then almost immediately look away. Because the one thing that is the most important to you, you will remember. And then the rest of it will become yours because . . . because you won’t remember the whole thing. And I think too many . . . especially these days, I think too much of what designers do in a lot of fashion is literal translations of what has been done in the past. And in a way it’s great. I mean people can wear it, but it’s not that interesting. And I . . . I . . . I would never wanna fall into that kind of trap.
Recorded on: 10/29/07