Sporting his iconic shrunken suit and shorts combo, over the last twenty years Thom Browne has become one of the most influential menswear designers out there. Yet being associated with such a distinctive look has meant his other ventures have gone largely under the radar. So yes, we’ll forgive you if you’re not already familiar with Thom Browne eyewear, but trust me, it’s well worth getting acquainted with.
The eagle-eyed amongst you might sense a slight sense of familiarity in the bolder frames of the collection, and with good reason; his first foray into eyewear back in 2011 was actually a collaboration with Dita, another of our favourite brands here at Seen. Thom along with Dita co-founders Jeff Solorio and John Junipers have a mutual appreciation of high quality and craftsmanship, and their partnership continues to this day.
But while Thom Browne pieces certainly have an element of that Dita flair, especially the TB-108-A SUN design featuring a top bar that just so very Dita, Thom's influence of his own style has resulted in a truly unique collection. His clothes are marked by an adherence to classic design, and that is clearly reflected in his eyewear collections.
Whilst budding designers will attempt to start from a place outside the everyday, Thom Browne takes on the glasses industry like Andy Warhol took on screen printing in the 60's, like a sneaky style saboteur, subverting the status quo from the inside. The result is frames that are at once bold and understated, classic and modern, rare but exhilarating combinations.
His complete commitment to his vision is notorious in the industry – all his staff are required to follow a strict dress code for example. But look a little closer and you can see other influences too. In a 2015 interview with Vanity Fair he opined that Cary Grant’s suit and sunglasses combo in the 1959 Hitchcock film North by Northwest is “perfection personified”, and there’s definitely a nod to those timeless sunnies in the design of the TB-412-02 - a frame so bold that any wearer would feel ready to outrun a crop-duster. You may have also clocked that the thinner, rounder tortoiseshell frame of the TB-906-02 evokes the whimsical charm of silent movie star Harold Lloyd. With a simple design that is so classic, it could stop the very hands of time from turning.
By now you will have noticed that the company deliberately eschews any kind of descriptive name for their eyewear, instead opting for alphanumeric, production line-esque tags. Perhaps it’s another comment on today’s corporate culture, maybe a homage to C-3PO (unlikely), or perhaps, as we like to think, it’s because they prefer to let the designs speak for themselves. Free from any preconceived connotations or corruptions that words might have in the mind of the reader, the interpretation of these pieces is truly in the eye of the beholder, leaving the wearer to fit them to their own personal style.
And what an addition they make. A symphonic union of metal and high-quality acetate, crafted (like so many of the best brands) in Japan, each frame is beautifully finished with those signature Thom Browne tricolour tips. We’ve talked about the influence of classic elements in their styling, but at the same time these designs aren’t afraid to embrace striking, modern elements too – the perforated gold side-shields of the TB-808-A SUN a good case in point. No wonder then that Thom Browne eyewear has quickly become a favourite of the discerning and sophisticated, adorning the features of many a famous face (Pharrell Williams and Joseph Gordon-Levitt being particular fans).
But it isn’t about following trends – when it comes to fashion, Thom Browne’s philosophy is based on the fact that we are all individuals, that we all have our own story to tell. So use this eyewear to craft your own personal look, taking inspiration from others but forging your own path. As the man himself says — “be true to yourself”.
With his new collection promising to be like nothing we've ever seen before, this season all eyes are on Mr Browne.
We’re delighted to be able to offer you our selection of the very best Thom Browne frames here at Seen, available both in-store and online.