Tom Thom Club
It's been about 3 years since the incredible Tom Ford resigned from his post as creative director of the Gucci and YSL brands. During his tenure Ford established a DNA for contemporary menswear laying the groundwork for the lifestyle driven and style conscious culture that exists now. Companies have now found it all too easy to market everything from exfoliates to socks to bespoke shoes to a man with deep pockets and enough care. When he left it was the end of an era best exemplified by a revealing opened shirt spread to the farthest degree of good taste, the scandalous Terry Richardson ads, and the pure sexual (but always covetable and classic) Tom Ford aesthetic. And now the man is back with an entourage of products for the contemporary male. His new store on 845 Madison Ave offers up made-to-measure suits and a full auxiliary line of ties, shirts, shoes, knitwear, etc notably absent of overt branding, instead, full of what Ford believes to be classic and timeless appeal.
But there is another T(h)om, Thom Browne. He wears his waists high, his hems short, and his jackets boxy. You won't see him sending models down the catwalk with a cocktail in hand, rather they'd be holding the train of an extremely long tailcoat for a fellow model in the show finale. It's safe to say that Browne instills a great amount of quirk in his presentations but does it with reverence to a tried and true past and a look towards the future. Browne, who started his label in 2001 and reached significant notoriety in the vacuum left when Ford took a rest from fashion, has his own ideas on menswear and the culture that can ensue. He recently won the prestigious CFDA menswear of the year award and opened his own modest shop on 100 Hudson Street, but that's just the beginning.
These two designers have taken on the challenge to dress the modern man in every aspect of his life. They each bring their own identifiable and developed language whether it's the typeface on the sewn in labels or the way a jacket skims the waist, they have their own unique voice. Browne plans to expand his business into categories such as fragrance and gym wear, it's an aspiration not of business diversification but of a genuine desire to realize a vision. And yet, there is no other man on earth who knows better on how to tie the isolated facets of a man's life into one succinct message than Tom Ford.
The two clothiers are quite different. Ford's developed sense of cool sets a stark contrast to Browne's high-water pants and oddball sensibilities. Browne is on the edge of things, his proposition is one I haven't seen before and that makes it very enticing. His suits bring nostalgia of the early 60's but the overall effect is just as contemporary as Ford's. And both designers have their fair of sex riddled in the clothes although Browne's is much more subversive with a touch of humor. In the next year or so as Browne expands his company and grows his name with a Brooks Brothers collaboration Ford will be testing his own concept for mens' fashion in a new store and retail ventures . The dominion of menswear is vast but constantly shrinking and how these two minds enter and affect the mix will be fun to watch. Of course, the men who are willing to engage these two designers and take note of their message won't look half bad either.
photos from top to bottom: Thome Browne, Tom Ford, a look from ford's exit collection at Gucci, a look from Browne's recent collection