Thom Browne has long had a love affair with heritage fabrics. On Tuesday, smack dab in the middle of New York Fashion Week, he dropped a collection devoted exclusively to tartan — specifically the gray and navy pattern he designed more than 15 years ago.
The designer said he opted not to show his full fall collection now in favor of showing off-calendar in New York on April 29. But he has a couple of good reasons.
Although his fall line has been designed completely, Browne said that due to the challenges presented by Omicron, he wasn’t able to produce his show this early. “As you know, with my shows, we don’t just walk in a room and have it happen,” he said of the extravagant productions he stages. “So we preempted the whole idea. There are too many challenges, but we’ll get everything done by April.”
In addition, in May, the second part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Lexicon of Fashion” show, curated by Browne’s longtime partner Andrew Bolton, will open. The designer brought his show back to New York in September when the Met show opened. “So with part two happening in May, I felt it was important to be in New York,” Browne said.
He still wanted to be involved in New York Fashion Week now, hence the release of the images devoted to his tartan collection.
Browne said he designed and registered his tartan in 2006 and has been using it “in smaller ways” in his collections since then. But he’s blowing it out now. “I wanted to conceptualize it and bring it into the whole world of Thom Browne,” he said.
The official Thom Browne tartan, listed on the Tartan Registry of Scotland, was created as a classic wool twill produced by Lochcarron of Scotland, a tartan house dating back to the 1800s. Since it was introduced, the Thom Browne tartan has also been used in cashmere, British wool tweeds, French ribbon tweeds, Japanese school uniform twills, heavy cottons, silk mogadors, nylons and other fabrics.
He said the pattern is just another example of how he “takes classic ideas and heritage fabrics and reintroduces them in different ways.” And this preview also serves as a “small preview for April,” where it will be part of a larger collection. “It’s a drop of an idea,” he said.
The look book presentation released Tuesday offers the tartan in constructed canvas tailoring, unconstructed soft tailoring, and skirts for men and women. It is also used in outerwear in pieces ranging from transitional shell weight jackets and heavyweight parkas to down. Cashmere and silk knits, footwear and bags, including the designer’s signature Mr. and Mrs. Thom and Hector styles, are also being given the tartan treatment in what Browne described as “all new interpretations.”
And for the first time, Browne used the tartan in children’s wear.
To tease the launch, Browne shot the upcoming collection on men, women and children in an 18th-century American-inspired set. The full expression of the line, along with other pieces “based on heritage fabrics” will be presented in what will be a fall men’s and women’s runway show on April 29.