This piece appears as part of “Not In Paris,” an online exhibition hosted and curated by Highsnobiety. Head here to see the full series.
In late January, Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter Koffee won Best Reggae Album at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards for her debut EP Rapture (2019). A few months prior, the record peaked at number one on the US Billboard Top Reggae Album Charts, staying on the list for 32 consecutive weeks. Now at 19-years old, she became the youngest reggae trophy recipient in history, and the first women to take home the prize since its 1985 inception.
Appearing on the red carpet after her win, Koffee showed off her gilded miniature gramophone wearing a classic black tux and matching overcoat by Thom Browne. A win for both.
“She’s a true individual with a huge talent, that’s what drew me to her. I knew she would bring an interesting sensibility to [the brand],” says Thom Browne, the New York-based designer best known for his shrunken mid century fits and his signature full look suiting available in 100 different shades of grey. “The strong tailoring, mixed with her youthful, original, and true-to-herself sensibility and talent came together to bring something really special; a true original take on what I do.”
That contrast plays to the core of Thom Browne, the brand. Where its couture-esque runway shows are characterized by their rich storytelling telling and avant garde execution, its stripped back ready-to-wear is rooted in uniformity, highly wearable for the masses. This dichotomy is what’s made the brand so successful since its inception in 2001. It has won numerous CFDA Awards, and has been worn by a wide range of celebrities including LeBron James, Michelle Obama and Solange. In August, 2018, Emenegildo Zegna acquired an 85 percent stake in the business, valuing the brand at approximately $500 million, and from 2019 it’s the official off-field outfitter of FC Barcelona.
For the everyday shopper, the allure of Thom Browne lies in its tribalism, as modeled by its team who are daily decked out in full looks by the brand. Whether a consumer is wearing one if the brand’s cropped cashmere cardigans, a cotton-jersey sweatshirt, or a full suit, Thom Browne’s recognizable hallmarks like its small grosgrain red, white and blue trim, and its four intarsia stripes, signify belonging to those in the know. All while subtle stylistic cues are applied by its wearers, who roll up their sleeves, choose what buttons to close and which not, and where their tie bars are placed, to add individuality. The brand’s audience knows it’s part of the deal. Thom Browne knows it’s an experiment in branding, community and ultimately individuality.
“Individuality is exactly how I look at uniformity, they go hand-in-hand,” Browne explains. “True individuality makes a Thom Browne character, it’s the confidence it takes in being true to oneself.”
And so, the relationship between Thom Browne and Koffee naturally continues. This time on Highsnobiety, for “Not In Paris,” for which the brand and the singer collaborate on an exclusive video clip, recorded in Koffee’s native land. A suitcase full of Thom Browne’s clothing was sent to Jamaica; creative direction, filming and post-production all happened within a week, and the result is phenomenal.
“I liked the idea of doing something interesting and individual, and new for me,” says Browne, explaining his thought-process behind the partnership. “I wanted it to be more of an image piece than a fashion piece, this was most important. I didn’t want it to fit into a season, I wanted to show how my collection evolved, not in the fashion world, but in the [real] world.”
Are you also “Not In Paris?” Not to worry, you too can join in on the non-gathering with our exclusive set of merch. Shop the collection here.
Director of Photography:
Fernando F Hevia (@fernandofhevia)
Tamo Ennis (@thetamoennis)
David Gangel (@davidgangel)