Overcoat, suit, shorts, and long johns with ski cap and mittens, 2006

Thom Browne

Location: New York, New York
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Thom Browne believes the suit makes the man—only not just any suit and not just any man. The menswear he designs is inspired by a cool, early 1960s vision of suave sophistication. The uniforms of airline pilots, photographs of his father, J. C. Penney catalogs, and debonair movie icons like Sean Connery’s James Bond and Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair all make an appearance in a visual repertoire rooted in a truly American sensibility.

“Men should dress like bureaucrats or airline pilots. I love uniforms! They make everything so effortless and easy,” he says. Thom Browne has taken the uniform of the late 1950s and early 1960s—the suit—and made it sexy again, updating it in a way that is at once quirky and refined.

When Browne could not find suits to wear, he designed his own and had them made by a tailor. He opened his own business in 2001, offering custom-made clothes only. In 2004, he entered the ready-towear market while maintaining his bespoke, or made-to-order, business. What sets Browne’s suits, sweaters, shirts, and coats apart from the rest of men’s fashion is their concern with quality, fit, and detail rather than the latest trend. His suits have unexpected proportions. Jackets are chopped. The fit is lean. Trousers have high waistbands and the leg is cropped.

Browne wears his own pants cropped just above the ankle, revealing a stretch of bare leg above his sturdy shoes. However, rather than dictating the same style to all his clients, he believes in an individual look personalized by the wearer. He likes to play with fabrics both high and low, especially in the unexpected details that wait to be discovered: a dinner jacket of white cotton canvas lined with white football- jersey mesh; a sportcoat made of terrycloth. And that most traditional of men’s suiting fabrics, pinstripe, is paired with red, white, and blue grosgrain ribbon trim.