Thom Browne makes progress on all fronts, forecasts 25-30% revenue growth in 2017
In 2001, Thom Browne opened his atelier in New York, offering a choice of classic men's suits inspired by a 1950s aesthetic updated with new proportions. One thing led to another, as the US designer added shirts, shoes, accessories and knitwear. From 2004, the label offered a genuine menswear total look alongside its bespoke service, to which in 2011 it added women's ready-to-wear, a segment which is currently booming and accounts for nearly one third of overall sales.
Two years ago, the company had 80 employees, a number which has now risen to 130. Revenue has reached $100 million (nearly €84 million), of which 30% is generated in the USA and Canada, 40% in Asia and 30% in Europe. For 2017, the label is forecasting a revenue growth between 25% and 30%. "Thom Browne's success rests on three elements: the very high quality of its products, their design consistency and the clarity of the label's message," CEO Rodrigo Bazan told FashionNetwork.com.
"Four years ago, the collections were mostly sourced from Japan. But as the label grew, manufacturing has chiefly shifted to Italy for output capacity reasons, while we continue to work with the world's best suppliers."
Cashmere items are still produced in Scotland, woollen sweaters in Ireland, shoes in the English footwear hub of Northampton. The label's bespoke service is also outsourced in Italy, to Caruso, a tailoring company specialised in high-end menswear.
In the last year and a half, Thom Browne worked to grow its men's clientèle, featuring slightly comfier fits and volumes and putting a greater emphasis on sportswear, something the designer has always been keen about. The label plans to broaden its range by growing the sports and outerwear segments. The latter was introduced two seasons ago, featuring an array of high-tech items. Accessories are also becoming more important, and they now account for 30% of the men's collection's sales.
The women's collection is also destined to expand. With this in mind, Thom Browne terminated the collaboration with Moncler, for which it designed the Gamme Blue range, so it could focus on its own women's ready-to-wear collection. The latter showed for the first time in October in Paris, where Thom Browne was already showing with menswear since 2010. Next February, Thom Browne will open a permanent showroom in the French capital.
"Our presence at the men's fashion weeks in Paris has undoubtedly driven the growth of our menswear sales, by giving us more visibility with buyers. As for our first Paris womenswear show, its knock-on effect was very positive, producing a 30% rise in sales," said Rodrigo Bazan.
The other strategic focus for the label, owned since 2016 by US investment fund Sandbridge Capital, is distribution. In the course of 18 months, Thom Browne has opened no less than 15 stores, bringing the total to 29 with the inauguration on 1st December of a store in Chengdu, China. For 2018, the label plans to open two licensed stores in Japan, in Tokyo and Osaka, one in Miami and a second store in Beijing, inside the Sanlitun hotel.
The wholesale channel still plays a significant part though, with 300 multibrand clients for menswear and 150 for womenswear, which are set to reach 200 with the Spring/Summer 2018. "Added to this, we are working on an omni-channel project together with Farfetch, via a special website which for the time being hosts London retailer Browns and our own label. We take care of the product, [Farfetch] provides the technology. It's the future of retail, one in which online and physical-store sales are fully integrated," concluded Bazan, emphasising how one third of Thom Browne's current sales are generated by monobrand stores and e-tail.
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