“White stripes on the arm of my Thom Browne suit.” Rappers like Lil Uzi Vert have been fans of Thom Browne long before he busted out a full look alongside Erykah Badu at the Met Gala in 2021. The revered New York City-based fashion designer is not a new name, to say the least. Thom Browne recently celebrated 20 years in business. And within that timespan, he has grown to become one of the most influential American fashion designers still working today. But why has everyone from Gucci Mane to Michelle Obama been attracted to his clothes? It’s because Thom Browne, like other great American fashion designers such as Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, has crafted a design language that is uniquely his own.
Although Browne has been nominated eight times for the menswear designer of the year award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, he’s not a formally trained fashion designer. Born in 1965 in the Rust Belt town Allentown, Pennsylvania, he grew up playing sports and going to school, raised by a family filled with doctors, businessmen, and lawyers.
“I never thought about [fashion],” he told Business of Fashion. “You almost didn’t even know it existed. You’d go to stores and you didn’t even think of how the clothing was designed and who made it. It was more of a commodity, in a way.”