Thom Browne made headlines recently by dressing the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers all in his signature shrunken-proportioned, cropped grey suits and accessories. It was a historic fashion moment in the NBA, being only the second time that all the players in a team have worn identical outfits on the photographed walk from the team bus to the locker rooms. That day we caught up with the cult American designer in Hong Kong (where he was celebrating a Joyce Boutique Atelier project) and he opened up about his love of uniform and how LeBron James helped it all happen.
Thom Browne at his FW17 menswear show in Paris. Photo by Regis Colin Berthelier for NOWFASHION.
Tell us about how you got a whole NBA team to dress in identical Thom Browne suits today.
T.B: One of the most inspiring things for me is something who is the best at what they do. LeBron has been my customer for quite a while along with his teammate at the time Dwayne Wade. I was speaking with Dwayne at an event in New York and I had this idea of creating the look of a strong unit. Especially since they're so inspiring for young kids, I wanted that image to be of a strong unity walking out. And all representing the team, as opposed to representing themselves when they walked in. I proposed the idea to Dwayne and he asked LeBron, and they asked the Cavaliers team, and they agreed.
And it was the whole outfits including accessories, correct?
T.B: So at the playoff today, we made custom grey suits, cardigans and shirts, and boots and Mr. Thom bags for all of them when they walked in. For me, it wasn't a fashion story, it was more of a cultural story. I wanted people to see the power. They are the best in the world, superstars; they can wear anything they want and people look to them. Them having the confidence to represent the unified team was something that I wanted to do.
The uniform is the centre of your label, whether it's suits and tailoring or sports uniforms ranging from swim to tennis. Why?
T.B: The idea of uniformity for me is very important. There is such a confidence in wearing the same thing every day. What's inspiring for me is seeing that people have a true sense of their own style, and it's almost testament to understanding what's best for you. A lot of people think that when I talk about uniforms that I’m only talking about tailoring, but its anything...if you wear jeans and t-shirts every day, then that's your uniform, that’s who you are. There’s a strength in that.
Thom Browne FW17 menswear show in Paris. Photo by Anna Parlermo for NOWFASHION.
But you also went to Catholic school and wore a uniform, and saw your attorney parents in suits and formalwear. Did this inform your direction?
T.B: It does come from my upbringing. Not sure if it was all schooling. I was inspired by my parents and the simplicity with which they lived their life. I’m also influenced by the idea of dressing in a way that is simple but makes it seem like you have more interesting things to think about, as opposed to thinking about what you have to wear each morning.
For years, you worked on Moncler Gamme Bleu and Brooks Brothers as well as your own label. Now that those collaborations have ended, you can focus 100% on own brand. What’s that like? What's next, and has it changed the way you work?
T.B: I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve achieved at other brands. For me now to focus on my collection and growing the business and developing takes a lot of time. For men's, we want to develop the collections more so it can mean more for a lot more people. For the women's, I feel like it's still a startup but a really good startup. The most important thing now is that people see the whole world of what I do.