How Thom Browne is reinventing outerwear

To enter the idiosyncratic world of designer Thom Browne is to learn that nothing is quite what it seems: apparent eccentricities dissolve into a foundation of impeccably tailored layers to reveal something strikingly bare. His designs, while visually arresting, are also ultra conscious of the pragmatic nature of clothing. To create something that is at once radical and practical is the genius of his work, revealed most prominently in his sportswear.

Since the launch of his eponymous line in 2001, Browne has been the antidote to redundancy, and in much the same way he’s reinvented men’s suiting, he again challenges us to rethink technical wear: a focal point of his fall/winter 2017 collection. “All the pieces are based on the tailoring that I’m known for but with a true utilitarian sensibility,” he explains. Each garment filled with pure white goose down has been transformed into yet another layer of the singular Thom Browne “uniform”. An iconic ball collar coat is reimagined in a premium wool, packed with a special down fill technique, trimmed with deerskin leather and lined with a special quick dry polyester. A vest, comprised of the same materials, is touched with a custom brush finish and hand enameling.

Browne has had a long history working with these materials, introducing down outerwear to his men’s collection in 2006 and helming the launch of Moncler Gamme Bleu in 2009. In 2013, he again included the feather-packed pieces in a striking collection of suiting. Although mesmerized by the performative qualities of his shows, it is the down pieces that hold unparalleled appeal—to both the Thom Browne loyalist and the complete individual.

This new collection razes the rules for dressing up and dressing for sport with transitional pieces that are smart, technical and touched with Thom Browne’s signature stripes. “The down filled collection is true utilitarian sportswear that lives in the city and outside the city,” he adds. To wear one of these pieces is to enter his world—but just enough so as not to get lost in it. For Browne, this is just the beginning of a new approach to dressing for winter.