If you weren’t already aware that fashion designers are taking inspiration from literally anything and everything around them these days, it might be hard for you to fully understand what’s going through their head while they’re conceptualizing new collections.
For his spring 2017 menswear collection, Thom Browne made sure to be blatantly obvious about his references, (uniformity and repetitiveness just so happens to be his thing) in case the first hints he dropped weren’t clear enough. Though if were being honest, this assortment may just have you asking, “What the hell was he thinking?”
Men in oversized grey suits came out, one by one, to a set that looked like an island dystopia with a few desolated palm trees and dark sand; like an amateur pirated episode of LOST. The models heads were covered with swimmer caps and white sunglasses over what looked to be like lifeguard zinc covering their faces.
They too, even seemed like they were lost. But then the models unzipped and the real designs emerged from underneath. The saturations immediately went from the neutral grey to a great amount of white with sunset yellows, grass greens and pale yellows.
Ironically, Browne had never surfed a day in his life, but found his greatest inspiration from surfing culture: everything from the costal landscape, onesie wetsuits, surfboards and of course— every beach goers fear— the great white sharks.
The first reference had to be the most bizarre of them all; a shark mask that covered the models head, which in reality looked like a strange dinosaur face. But I guess sharks are dinosaur descendants, so I’ll let this one slide.
Browne also made a shark reference with a Jaws inspired bite to the clothing, which took a large chunk out of both legs of a mid-calf trouser. That piece fit particularly well with the matching blood-red classic oxford shoes and illusion layered PVC wetsuit jacket. It actually looked like one of the models had just faced a shark attack at the shoreline or something.
On the more commercial front, instead of making the suits out of sharkskin (like those of men’s luxury business suits) Browne placed the silhouette and outline of a shark’s body on many of the pieces. This was spotted on the designs in the form of screen print, embroidery and laser cut outs.
While the sharks began to be a circling theme, it wouldn’t be a real beach without the introduction of some tropical birds. That’s right, birds— seagulls and parrots and all— where a few models that had art deco made masks and feather adorned winged wet suits, imitated how birds soar near the shore.
I wondered if they could actually get wet, like a bird that dives headfirst into the
water to catch a fish. Not that anyone spends a large amount of time analyze the birds at a beach anyways, but these birds looked like an arts and craft project gone wrong. Maybe it was a last minute add on.
Finally, models undid those bright wet suits to expose these unformal onesie bathing suits, all which resembled vintage beachwear, the iconic styles made from heavy wool. When they left the stage, the models returned with matching surfboards ready to take the seas.
The show started with uniformity and stayed pretty consistent with it, even until the shows end. Wow, what a surprise for Browne. (Insert unimpressed emoji here.)
Browne tried so hard to make sure the surf lingo was well received and indeed, it was. (*flashes the hang-loose sign.) But the overused beach mentions made the entire show feel a bit overdone, a bit busy. Iit was less about the clothing’s appeal and more about the runway appeal.
I’m not entirely sure if Browne could be any more deliberate to make his case.
But speaking on intention, there was something very poetic about seeing garments made from PVC plastic, pieces that were inspired by a beach environment. But that connection wasn’t so surprising considering how the world’s oceans and beaches are plagued by tons of plastic waste each year. The overindulgence of this show, was equally as sad as that one fact.
But I guess the saying is true here, too: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Photos Courtesy of Getty Images
Tyler J. Drinnen, is the Founder and Editor in Chief of iTEM MAGAZINE,
a poet and freelance fashion writer, photographer and abstract visual content producer.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Media Studies from Sonoma State University, where he wrote a weekly Opinion Column For
The Star, dabbled with his own radio podcast format, titled Saturday Nite Scandal, and helped to create one of the first of 25 Professional Student Lead PR Firms in the USA.
From there on, he continued his work by interning with Sonoma Discoveries Magazine and then shortly after wrote and interned for Fashion School Daily, where he solidified his love for feature writing and working with emerging talents from around the world.
In December of 2016, he received an Honorary Master of Arts in Fashion Journalism from the Academy of Art University. And what an achievement that was, to be the first in his program to have graduated a full semester early. Bringing him to four degrees in a short five and a half years, nothing will stop him from bringing art to the eyes of many.
He has worked in the fashion industry for nearly a decade, from commercial retail management to corporate level ghost writing. Now - he the poet - T.J.D. takes his life public with the independent launch of the urban California lifestyle based fashion-art movement, iTEM MAGAZINE: A Platform For Rising Artists.