LONDON — Thom Browne is certainly a creature of habit: When he comes to London (a few times each year) he always stays at Claridge’s, has dinner at The Ivy and visits the National Portrait Gallery. And he’ll never give up his tailored shorts, even in the chilly and damp London weather.
During an interview at Claridge’s earlier this week, he was dressed in a tailored suit — a jacket and shorts, despite the unseasonable weather — from his own line. Although he visits London often, this week marked the first time he spoke at Sarabande: The Lee Alexander McQueen Foundation, where he talked about his love of showmanship on the catwalk.
At Claridge’s, he talked about his upcoming Miami store, which will open later this year, “It will feel very true to Miami, but in the world of Thom Browne,” and his 1,500-square-foot shop on Albemarle Street in Mayfair. Browne called it a visually strong store: “I just love the way it looks,” he said of the store, which has been done in gray, black and white with marble walls.
Asked about fashion in London — and especially men’s fashion, which is all about streetwear — Browne said, “London is always innovative and embracing youthful designs. It has a good youthful fashion spirit.”
He recently launched a few new stores in China and plans to travel to Asia later this year to visit them all. “The business is so strong in Asia,” said Browne, whose previous majority investor was Japanese company Stripe International (now U.S. private equity firm Sandbridge Hill Capital holds a majority stake, while Stripe remains a shareholder). “People really appreciate the classic part of what I do and that’s what’s been selling strongly. It’s a good response across the board.”
His plans include shining a light on his tailored sportswear. “What people don’t realize is that we have a really strong tailored sportswear part of the collection,” said Browne. “And making sure people know we do it and made-to-measure business is important as that’s how we started.”
The designer also talked about the challenges of building his label.”Anyone that starts their own collection, building the business part is something to figure out,” he said. “I think it makes the collection and the business stronger. Everything is really good. So I’m glad I’m through those times. In 2009, everyone in the world was having to rethink things.”
He said the most important thing for him is to grow the brand in the right way and that “the conceptual part of what I do is still understood and embraced by people. It just means there is so much to do in terms of developing the collections, growing the stores and e-commerce.”
Earlier in the year, Browne spoke at a Q&A at 92Y with Fern Mallis where he recapped his career from a SAG card-holding actor to an international designer.
As reported, the designer is focusing on his namesake brand and aims to reach out to a bigger audience. The company has grown from a mainly men’s wear and wholesale business launched 15 years ago to a direct-to-consumer brand also encompassing women’s wear and accessories. Browne has 300 wholesale accounts for men’s wear and 100 for women’s wear. The designer is targeting more than 200 wholesale accounts for his women’s line for the end of 2018.