When Thom Browne was young, he didn’t know he was going to become a style icon for the 21th century. He studied economics at university and tried a stint as an actor. But it was when he moved to New York in the late 1990s and began working in luxury brand menswear that he found the right fit for him.
Now, 20 years after launching the world-famous brand that fits his name, Thom Browne is still proudly unconventional. Browne recently visited Seoul for a series of personal appearances at 10 Corso Como, the curated fashion and lifestyle store run by Samsung C&T Fashion Group in Seoul’s trendy Cheongdam neighborhood.
Finding ways to make clothing exciting again has been part of Thom Browne’s mission from the start. Choosing gray as his main color, he explained in an interview with The Korea Economic Daily, “I want to make the most progressive clothes with gray, which feels like the most conservative color.” Thom came to add playful touches to clothing items like his signature 4 horizontal bars, and the vertical red, white, and blue grosgrain ribbon.
Going a step further, Thom Browne in recent years introduced a line of skirts for men made of wool, linen, and seersucker. In The Guardian the designer was recently quoted as saying, “I think we live in a world where men should be able to wear anything.” Thom himself often wears shorts, even in cooler weather.
Not content to limit himself to menswear, Thom Browne also designs clothing for women and young children. Venturing beyond garments, he recently collaborated with Samsung Electronics, which released a Galaxy Z Fold5 Thome Browne Edition that quickly sold out. Commenting on this collaboration, he called it “an amazing experience.”
Celebrations in Seoul
Korea has 17 stores selling Thom Browne clothes, more than the 10 in the United States, so it seemed fitting that Thom Browne himself should visit Korea during his world tour to celebrate 20 years since launching his eponymous brand.
Entering the Korean market twelve years ago, Thom Browne has grown by double digits each year. In his interview, he emphasized the importance of the Korean market to him. He said, “The fashion of K-pop stars such as G-Dragon and BTS really is top notch, but I am also interested in the fashion of ordinary people you see when walking on the street.”
On Oct. 20, 10 Corso Como’s flagship store hosted an exclusive 20th birthday celebration for the Thom Browne brand. Attended by celebrities like SHINee’s Taemin, Shin Ye-eun, Jo Yi-hyun, and NCT’s Johnny, it was a who’s who of Korea’s fashion scene.
There Thom Browne held a book signing event for his most loyal customers, followed by an exhibition and party at which press, stylists, and influencers were welcomed. The next day, Thom took part in a special artist talk at the Leeum Art Center, attended by VIPs and press.
These celebratory events served to reinforce that, for Thom Browne, “Korea is a special market for me.” The designer added, “Not only do I have loyal customers, but I also get a lot of inspiration from Korea.”
Summing up his goal for the next 20 years, he said it is to “not compromise with the world, so that I don’t undermine my first 20 years.”