Thom Browne — winner of two CFDA men’s wear awards, barer of many a well-appointed ankle (or knee), proponent of cinematic fashion shows, bespoke suiting and Italian tailors — fully endorses Mark Zuckerberg’s gray T-shirt uniform.
“I am all for it,” Browne said. “I love people being who they want to be, as long as they are true to themselves, I think that’s great.”
What about when Zuck refers to fashion as “frivolous?”
“I don’t think he means it in a derogatory way,” said Town & Country editor in chief Jay Fielden, who was in Palo Alto to interview Browne for Stanford University’s “Fashion at Stanford” interview series, speaking backstage before the talk. “I think he means it becomes frivolous if it consumes your life to the point that you’re not, you know, inventing Facebook.”
The editor and the designer have known each other for 10 years, since Fielden was at Men’s Vogue — “two guys who came from places that one would not have thought to be the places we are,” Fielden said (he’s from San Antonio, Texas, while Browne is from Allentown, Pa.).
During their talk, the two covered the influence of Brown’s upbringing in a large, Catholic family; the early-on bliss of being ignorant to the hardships of the fashion world; the balance between continuity and originality; and the joy and challenge of branching out into women’s wear.
Fielden asked about the inspiration behind his conceptual, often slightly macabre, fashion shows. Browne revealed that he is most inspired by film and a story, and often, the elements of his shows come together by chance and don’t have a single, unifying message — in fact, he said, he prefers to hear how the viewers interpret his vision.
Speaking of viewers, Browne praised Silicon Valley inventions like Twitter and Instagram, which allow so many more to view his shows, or even the behind-the-scenes, which often, he said, can be more interesting. “It is pretentious,” he said of adopting and adapting to technology, “to not embrace what’s happening today.”
Which brings us back to Zuckerberg.
“I think what he’s done is incredible, and he’s true to himself and you have to applaud that,” Browne said. “For me, there is nothing more inspirational than someone who is so true to themselves.”
“I think he will eventually get bored of that T-shirt,” Fielden countered. “He’ll start to see things that educate his eye, and start to see how interesting something like what Thom does, is.
“Guys like him grow into their destiny — and a T-shirt is not a great destiny.”