If you know Thom Browne, you know his gray suits. Sharply tailored and a little shrunken, they’re one of the most recognizable things the New York-based designer makes, and the foundation of his own personal wardrobe. You might think, then, that when Browne teamed up with Nordstrom to create a capsule collection for the retailer’s New Concepts program, those suits would find themselves at the center of the action. In a refreshing twist, you’d be wrong.
Instead, the new collection, which launched this week, is rooted in Thom Browne’s equally compelling sportswear—specifically, one standout bomber with deerskin sleeves and a wool body in a bold repp stripe, a pattern usually reserved for ties of the Ivy Style varietal. “The collection really started from the repp stripe fabric jacket. I think that’s the one piece that people should look at first,” Browne says. “It’s a good introduction to the strength in the tailored point of view of what I do.”
You’ll note the use of the "T" word in Browne’s description of his bomber; it’s something that applies to everything he does. From two-button jackets to pullover sweatshirts, if it’s by Browne, you can bet it’s going to pass through that essential filter. “I want to make sure that people see the core of what I do,” he says of the new Nordstrom collection, “which is tailoring and tailored sportswear.”
That’s exactly what drew Sam Lobban—who heads up the New Concepts program at Nordstrom—to Browne for this particular partnership. “He doesn’t just make suits that maybe fit slimmer than someone else’s suits, he really does have a broad offering of American sportswear,” Lobban says of Browne, noting that the Thom Browne and Nordstrom teams “leaned into that even further” with their product offering, as well as a campaign with an old-school sporting vibe.
“We were taking that inspiration of the stripe and applying it to other product, because it makes the whole thing feel really sporty, but without being, like, a nylon windbreaker,” Lobban says. “I’m super pleased how it came out, and I think the campaign shoot really brings it to life in a fun, quirky, and slightly subversive, in its own way, sort of way. It’s a little bit Monty Python.”
Giant feet stomping down from the sky? No. But you will find a tongue-in-cheek, absurdist streak in the campaign, which features models dressed in the new collection perched on vintage exercise bikes or shoved into lockers. You’ll also find that same “a locker room, but make it Thom Browne” idea executed IRL, with the in-store displays at select Nordstroms across the country referencing the concept.
Bolstering the Thom Browne-ified gym feel is an array of pieces within the collection. While the repp stripe jacket is more “sporty” than “actual sport,” accessories like a sweatband set, yoga mat, and water bottle might just find their way into your actual workout routine. “My wife already thinks it’s ridiculous that I go to yoga like three times a year and have my own yoga mat anyways, so maybe I can push that and get a Thom Browne one,” Lobban jokes, “just because of the annoyance.”
And if you’re looking for something that could hold its own on the Stairmaster but might be better reserved for après-gym activities, there’s a full assortment of Thom Browne’s perennially popular sweatshirts and tees, which feature either the designer’s signature red, white, and blue grosgrain detailing, his four-bar graphic motif, or both. These aesthetic calling cards are another element that drew Lobban to Browne for a partnership. “I think there’s a guy who really responds to that four-bar sweatshirt or that red, white, and blue grosgrain on a shirt—or even a red, white, and blue stripe across the whole of a shirt,” he says. “Because it feels quite American preppy, but the proportions are neat and slick enough that it feels quite designer.”
Plus, in an increasingly post-streetwear world, those markers offer the sort of branding that’ll feel familiar to guys who like to rock a logo, but one done in a more subtle way. And it doesn’t hurt that they’re already a status symbol for in-the-know fans of Browne’s offerings. “I always like when people connect with what I do,” Browne says, “so I appreciate it.”
But whatever perspective you bring to the collection personally, Browne’s real hope is that you approach it with a willingness to open yourself up to what he’s bringing to the table, design-wise. “It’s very individual,” he says. “I think it is true to the idea of sportswear, in that they’re really good items to incorporate in your own wardrobe, but there’s also a whole new introduction: to maybe something brand new, and a whole new way of looking at fashion and clothing.”
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