Think Thom Browne suits couldn’t get any more shrunken? Think again.
On Sunday, during the brand’s slot on the Paris Men’s Fashion Week calendar, the designer surprised viewers expecting to see his fall men’s collection with a film featuring an ethnically diverse group of children sporting miniaturized versions of his signature tailored suits, knitwear and accessories.
The film, by Cass Bird, is intended to introduce a category of business for the designer brand — the aptly named Thom Browne Childrenswear.
“We’re showing men’s and women’s together in February, so we thought it would be interesting to show something lighthearted and funny now,” Browne said. And in this winter of the pandemic, the film, which he characterized as “charming,” is also seen as “something to put a smile on everyone’s faces.”
The just over two-minute film begins with the camera shooting the children from above, sitting at desks in front of typewriters with apples and milk containers by their sides. Briefcases with Browne’s signature stripe pattern down the center sit next to the desks. A bell rings and the kids jump up from their desks and exit the room. When they return, their personalities emerge, with one girl kneeling on the desk striking the keys on the typewriter, another tossing a balled-up piece of paper across the room, and yet another upchucking the milk that he’d drunk too quickly. The film ends with the kids — now slightly disheveled — giggling, whispering and just being kids.
The set, which Browne created in a studio, is intended to be a replica of his stores or office, complete with white blinds, squeaky-clean furniture and minimal decoration. “It’s really important people felt it was the same world,” he said.
It’s obvious the designer enjoyed this latest artistic endeavor. “What do they say about never working with kids and animals,” he said with a laugh. “I love kids.” And even though they didn’t know what a typewriter was, let alone how to use one, they quickly got the idea. “It was a really fun shoot,” Browne said.
But turning more serious, he said the children’s collection is something he’s been developing for a year and he expects it to be “important to the growth of the business.” The design of the line offers the same “sensibility and mood” as the rest of the Thom Browne collection and actually “harkens back” to the line’s launch in 2001. “It’s children’s wear approached from a fashion point of view,” he said. “And it’s true to the collection.”
Browne said he has actually been “dabbling” in children’s wear in his retail stores for a while — offering mainly knitwear such as cardigans, crewneck sweaters, sweat bottoms and onesies. But this marks the first full collection for the category, which offers signature styles in the same make and quality of the adult line, including medium-gray super 120s wool twill suits; Chesterfield overcoats with velvet top collars; cardigans with the brand’s four-bar detail, and classic white oxford shirts.
In addition, the collection includes “Friday uniform” pieces such as a navy super 120s twill sport coat with gold buttons and a university stripe grosgrain armband shirt with round collar. Additional styles include classic sweats in loopback jersey, and down ripstop vests and puffer jackets with four-bar details.
He credited Bird with allowing the six kids in the film to shine individually. “You really see all of their personalities — and they’re wearing the same thing,” he said. There are separate boys and girls pieces — skirts for girls and shorts for boys — but many are interchangeable. “There’s definitely cross over,” he said. “Kids are much more enlightened than we are.”
The Thom Browne Childrenswear launches today and will be sold in the designer’s stores, online and at select wholesale accounts around the world. Prices include short- and long-sleeved T-shirts for $300 to $315; shirts from $265 to $428; knits from $640 to $905; skirts and pants from $591 to $785; tailoring starts at $1,074, and outerwear is $1,074 to $1,550.
The designer expects that parents will be the primary decision-makers in the purchases of the line, but added: “It’ll be interesting to see kids interacting with the collection.”
Browne launched his line with five men’s suits in a small appointment-only shop in Greenwich Village in New York. A full men’s collection was created in 2003 and women’s was added in 2011. Ermenegildo Zegna purchased a majority stake in the brand in 2018 and the collection is now carried in more than 300 department and specialty stores in 40 countries and there are 68 retail stores and shops-in-shop around the world.