News & Runway

Designer Dossier: Thom Browne

Designer Thom BrowneTo mark her husband President Barack Obama's inauguration to a second term, Michelle Obama wore a superbly cut A-line coat designed by Thom Browne. While many devotees have had Browne on their radar for some time (after all he did have an award-winning CFDA-darling stint in 2005 and 2006), he's far from a household name — even after The Coat. So who is this guy? Turns out, one of the more interesting designers to come up in the last decade, a true artist and a newbie cult favorite. 

Browne stands apart from the typical throng of designers in a variety of ways. You won't find a degree from Central Saint Martins or The New School on his office shelf. You'll never see him sewing, draping or constructing a garment himself — he doesn't know how. Never formally taught, Browne began his career with an economics degree from Notre Dame and then moved to Los Angeles to be an actor. When he decided to move on from there, he sold his car to fund a move out east.

In New York, he took work in a tailor's shop. From there he worked in the showrooms of Armani and Ralph Lauren before beginning his own bespoke tailoring business. He continued to learn about design and eventually began his own label. The rest, as they say, is history. Browne's clothes bring something new to the design table, especially for menswear, which he did exclusively until only recently. He enjoys playing with fit and proportion, and has a knack for creating a look that is quirky and "off" but still works. Think shrunken, tight tops and suit pants whose length calls to mind the term "high waters" and extreme emphasis where the body naturally angles and curves.

His first women's collection was in 2011. His shows tend to be dramatic, bordering on comical, but that's the way Browne likes it. He doesn't want to take himself too seriously, perhaps that's his Allentown, PA upbringing. He told the New York Times, "I want to put concepts in front of people that make them laugh or smile or even hate what I do…I’m not interested in just putting clothes in stores.” Regardless, we're certainly interested in seeing his clothes in stores and will definitely be watching the evolution of his foray into womenswear. Check out some of our favorite Thom Browne looks below.