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Thom Browne: a New Direction for Men?

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Photo used with the permission of: Kikuko Usuyama

KCRW radio’s Elvis Mitchell interviewed men’s designer Thom Browne today.

Browne has introduced a silhouette of finely tailored, floodwater high trouser bottoms and too small suit jacket that are custom made in his NYC studio for up to $3,000.00

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Browne talked about how “guys are dressing up again” and “how great people looked in the 50’s and 60’s” and “this is for young men who want to look like gentlemen but are tired of jeans and t-shirts”. His influences are, of course, the old movies, the Cary Grant and Steve McQueen icons, and the musicians who came from London in the 1960’s (like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones).

Men’s clothing has been old and tired for a long time. The last time anyone shook up suits was in 1980 when Armani-made elegance and slouchy sexiness turned Richard Gere into an “American Gigolo”. Since that time, we’ve gotten fatter, older and sloppier. The suits that sit forever on Bloomingdale’s racks are generic and mass produced. The people who sell them are clueless. Browne’s rebellion is to put individual taste over mass marketing. He professes to not even think about sales, only artistry.

But what good is a good design if nobody buys it? Apple computers, Nokia phones, Puma shoes…all are well made and mass-produced and are sold worldwide.

Thom Browne, flying around lower Manhattan with his wispy-waisted fashions, may hope to remake men’s wear, but fly into Memphis, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Boston or Paris boardrooms with his suits, and you might just might get laughed out of the office.