“When people have too many choices, they make bad choices”
It was an exciting day in Japan’s fashion industry 2 months ago when Thom Browne and his characteristically unique American style arrived, officially, in Japan in the form of a flagship store in Aoyama. Located on the posh Miyuki-dori and surrounded by luminaries like Acne Studios and Mackintosh, the grey, windowless, marble-clad fortress is Browne’s first foray overseas. The only window, in fact, is a narrow, intimidating entrance.
The 3-story structure is a full-service boutique offering menswear (1st floor) womenswear (2nd floor) and a made-to-order room in the basement where you can sip a 1996 vintage Dom Pérignon from a tumbler while your measurements are taken. And the style of the building is consistent with the overall theme of his original shop: a late 1950s – early 1960s office where Don Draper types were running around with tie clips and briefcases making business deals. Browne’s vision came to life thanks to Masamichi Katayama from Wonderwall.
A cantilevered staircase takes you into different offices.
Browne attributes his dapper look to his father and his chic, effortless, “midcentury cool” design philosophy may very well be best summed up by this simple quote: “When people have too many choices, they make bad choices.”
To complete the continental mid-century look are a series of furniture hand-picked from shops like Jacques Adnet, Dunbar, Maison Jansen and Gio Ponti.
It’s no surprise that Browne chose Tokyo for his first overseas flagship store. While going from near-obscurity to appearing in Wes Anderson films, runways in Milan and being selected by Michelle Obama to design her dress to be worn to her husband’s inauguration, Browne was quickly gaining momentum in Japan.
In 2001 Browne left Club Monaco to launch his own label. But by 2010, when Browne was still working out of a tiny, appointment-only shop, his sales in Japan were rivaling his biggest success story – Bergdorf Goodman. In 2011 Browne also collaborated with Rei Kawakubo at Comme des Garcons.
Celebrities and models like Kiko Mizuhara, Kankuro Nakamura, Verbal and Takumi Saito turned out for the opening where Browne noted that he hopes to create an actual experience, rather than just a retail experience. He also spoke of the importance of this Tokyo flagship as a hub for Thom Browne New York style in Asia and the rest of the world.
Attendees had the chance to pick up a limited design button-down (50,400 yen) inscribed with the opening line of one of Browne’s favorite poems: The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.