MILAN — “It was time to bring it all home,” said Thom Browne of his focus on and the development of his namesake brand.
During a walk-through of his men’s pre-collection in Milan, which clearly showed how extensive his line has become, with every category expanding significantly, the designer explained how he is looking forward to the future as the company is expected to close 2017 with sales gain of 20 to 25 percent.
“I made a conscious decision a year ago to spend all of my time on my own brand, which is really coming together,” said Browne, adding that he had been “really happy” with his past collaborations. These include the Moncler Gamme Bleu line, whose last season was presented for spring 2018. As reported earlier this month, Remo Ruffini, chairman and chief executive officer of Moncler, said the company was also closing the Gamme Rouge collection, designed by Giambattista Valli, in line with a new strategy that is expected to be presented in February.
“I am evolving my brand, but making sure it’s my own way, so that you can see the Thom Browne sensibility. I am staying true to the label but reaching out to a bigger audience,” the designer explained. Browne said there are many potential customers who don’t know they could carry off wearing the brand, which is known for its tailored and shrunken suits. For example, he cited Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, who both fit into his looks.
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.
Last year, revenues totaled 100 million euros and the company. Women’s wear now accounts for 30 percent of the total and is growing faster than men’s wear, Browne said.
Asked about the revolutions in fashion since he first launched his brand, Browne said his own sensibility hasn’t changed and that “it doesn’t need to change; I would be doing a disservice to the customer otherwise. The brand is strong in a timeless way. There is a reason why customers are buying [Thom Browne].”
He spoke of a classic and timeless idea behind his products, although he has been adding a lot of sportswear and pieces inspired by ath-leisure. “I like clothing that is worn, that gets better with age. I look at it in a utilitarian way,” he remarked. “Clothing should be real and authentic.”
Given the breadth of the collection, Browne is also looking at selling online, joining Farfetch last August, for example.
The designer has been expanding his retail footprint in the wake of Sandbridge Capital’s acquisition of a majority stake in the company in May 2016 from Japan’s Stripe International. Stripe retains a minority stake. In 2018, the company plans to open a store in Beijing Sanlitun in the first half; in Miami in the second half, and two women’s concessions in Japan.
In 2017, the company opened its first store in Europe, located in Milan’s Via Gesù, in April, followed by London in July. The company has also doubled the size of its New York boutique and opened in Beijing; in Shanghai Reel; in Shanghai IFC, and four stores in South Korea, in Seoul and Busan.
There are a total of 28 stores today and a unit in Chengdu will open in November. “We went from 16 to 29 stores in 18 months,” Browne said.
There are 300 wholesale accounts for men’s wear and 100 for women’s wear, a number that is expected to increase to 150 for spring 2018. Browne is targeting more than 200 wholesale accounts for his women’s line for the end of 2018.