The Perception Gap
After all, though Mr. Browne is widely seen as one of the most influential men’s wear designers of the past 10 years, his shrunken midcentury modern silhouettes as popular as midcentury modern furniture; though he has been nominated eight times for the men’s wear designer of the year award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and won three times; and though his women’s wear collections are routinely lauded as among the best in New York (retailers like Sebastian Manes, the buying director of Selfridges, say, “He is one of the main reasons I come to New York Fashion Week”), he has never been nominated for a women’s wear designer of the year award.
He has never been approached by a big brand to take the reins of a heritage house. When rumors start about what brand might hire what buzzy, young New York name, his never comes up. No conglomerate like LVMH or Kering has ever tried to buy him.
And yet last year, his company (which was founded in 2001 and is profitable) brought in $100 million in revenue and is on track to increase that to $120 million to $125 million this year, of which 70 percent is men’s wear sales and 30 percent is women’s, even though women’s wear was just introduced in 2011. (It is currently growing at 30 percent a year.) Thirty percent of the sales occur in the United States, 40 percent in Europe and 30 percent in Asia. Mr. Browne is opening six new stores in the second half of 2017, following three openings so far this year.
That makes Thom Browne much bigger than the Row, bigger than Altuzarra and bigger even than Proenza Schouler, and nearly close to the size of Alexander Wang, whose former chief executive, Rodrigo Bazan, left in May 2016 to become the C.E.O. at Thom Browne, an acknowledgment of sorts that of all the third-generation American brands (those that came after the Ralph/Calvin/Donna and Marc Jacobs/Michael Kors eras), Mr. Browne’s may be the one to watch.
“It’s a rare brand…