Of the three main guys at the center of this New York menswear revival, Thom Browne, Michael Bastian, and Derrick Miller of Barker Black, one of the things I find most interesting is that none of them have formal design training. Thom was an actor, Michael worked at Sotheby’s, and Derrick worked for a photographer and at a magazine; all were in creative fields but they were not slaving away in the sequin mines of FIT or Parsons. The closest to fashion schooling was R.L.U. (Ralph Lauren University); both Derrick and Michael worked there, and Thom was at Club Monaco, a division of Ralph’s empire.
“Not seeing the forest for the trees” is a scenario that so many young, formally trained designers fall prey to when they begin their collections. They have grown up wanting so bad to be “the next big thing”, that they feel that they can only do it by creating the first three-armed jacket. I guess that by not growing up dreaming of being a “designer”, Thom, Michael, and Derrick were more easily able to see the opportunity and reward of reworking already established classics, and adding their own personal twists. Actually, I find what these young Americans are doing is every bit a artistic as a Raf Simons or Slimane because they are working more with color, pattern, texture, and silhouette. Raf’s collections, or designers of that ilk (Kris Van Assche), seem to make it more about overall shape and coming up with a new gimmick each season. Not that there is anything wrong with that; fashion needs that, but I don’t agree that the Raf Simons of the world are on a much higher creative plane than that of these young Americans.