Though Thom Browne has won a ton of awards and helped change the look of modern tailoring, he was nothing but humble on stage at the final Fashion Talk hosted by French Institute Alliance Française in New York this week. When The Washington Post's famed fashion critic Robin Givhan tried to give him credit for starting a revolution in menswear with the shrunken proportions of his gray suits, he simply shrugged it off.
"It is a team effort," he said, pointing to a line of gray-clad members of his design staff. "For the small team that we are, we think we do a lot."
So what else did we learn about Browne? Read on.
He tries not to pay attention to other designers.
"I'm not really schooled in the history of fashion, and I don't really pay attention to a lot of what's going on," he said when a member of the audience asked him about his favorite designers, past or present. "I specifically don't because I think it makes it easier. I think if I knew of all the good work that people were doing, I'd be incredibly intimidated and feel like, 'How could I do anything better than that'? I feel like ignorance is bliss sometimes."
He'd rather watch a movie than read a book.
"I love to sit in front of a film and take a piece from it and use it as a reference, or take a couple films and mix references together," he said when asked about his inspiration, naming Stanley Kubrick's films among his favorites. "Sometimes you sit and watch his films and you—or at least I do—get bored. But you can't stop watching because visually, it just really sucks you in. I've seen 2001 a thousand times and it's visually very stimulating.
He doesn't want everyone to like his work.
I don't think commercially [when I] design the collections," he said of some of the more theatrical pieces he sends down the runway. "For me the show truly is for provocation, for making that great gray suit really interesting again…If you do anything that's somewhat provocative, you're kidding yourself if you think half of the people won't react that way. I feel like I'm not doing something right if too many people like it."
He thinks those trophies he's won are "bizarre."
"It's an honor," he said when asked about his CFDA awards. "It's nice to be recognized by your peers, but I really feel like sometimes, winning awards in creative fields is a bizarre concept. All of us that just actually sustain a business should win awards. But it's an honor."
He started his line because young guys weren't wearing suits.
"I used to see the guys on Wall Street going to work, and I thought…all the guys looked really bad," he said. "I didn't want to just do clothing specifically for guys to go to work in, I wanted to reintroduce the idea of tailored clothing that was actually interesting to people again. Specifically, at the beginning, it was for younger people, because a lot of young people didn't even have suits."
—Details associate online style editor Justin Fenner.
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