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Why Thom Browne’s $500 Million Deal Is a Big Win for Independent Designers

Thom Browne Spring 2019.

Thom Browne Spring 2019.

Celebrations must be kicking off at Thom Browne HQ this week. Ermenegildo Zegna, the Italian fashion and textile company, has purchased an 85% stake in the Thom Browne business through an agreement with Sandbridge Capital. The estimated value? Half a billion American dollars. Following the investment, the Thom Browne brand will remain independently operated, with Thom Browne (the man) retaining the remaining 15% stake and Rodrigo Bazan staying on as CEO.

But more than just good news for Browne, this is great news for fashion on the whole. In a time when luxury retail is struggling to maintain its footing alongside direct-to-consumer models, buzzy streetwear drops, and the ever-expanding athleisure market, Zegna’s investment is a testament to the durability—and bankability—of a worthy creative vision.


Thom Browne at his Fall 2018 show.

Think of it this way: Since starting his label in 2001, Browne has done everything traditional wisdom would say you shouldn’t: He’s designed wacky clothes in cartoon proportions, dressed his male models in bulbous onesies or bridal skirts, put his women in zip-away sequin scuba dresses, and made a bag in the shape—and texture—of his dog Hector. He hasn’t advertised in magazines, nor has he licensed the brand name for cosmetics or fragrances, and he’s ditched any celebrities for deals (some official, some not) with the biggest athletes around the world. In a sea of fashion conglomerates, Thom Browne is a unicorn.

Team Zegna seems to know the value of this: “My conceptual approach to design and the long-term vision of growing a true luxury design-led collection for men and women is something we both feel strongly about as the future strength of Thom Browne,” said the designer. Expect only bigger, bolder, and wilder creations from Browne in the future.

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