Thom Browne has been named as the new Chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), replacing Tom Ford, who ended his three-year term in the position back in May. The Council’s Board of Directors unanimously elected Browne for the position. His tenure will begin at the start of the new year, when he takes over for the interim chairman, CFDA CEO Steven Kolb.
“I am very excited about taking the chairmanship of the CFDA,” the designer said in a statement. “I feel a huge responsibility in working with Steven and the CFDA team to carry on the positive and important work of Tom, Diane [von Furstenberg] and Stan [Herman]. I also feel that it is important to give back to an industry that supported me so well over the last 20 years. I am so proud to be an American designer…there is so much happening in American design today that the world needs to really see and recognize and truly appreciate.” Notably, while Browne showed in Paris for the spring/summer 2023 season, he will return to New York for his fall/winter 2023 show in February.
Browne himself has a long history with the CFDA, becoming a member in 2005, and winning the Council’s Menswear Designer of the Year award just a year later. He has since won it again in 2013 and 2016. He has also served on the CFDA Board of Directors, was a past member of the organization’s Admissions Committee, and currently serves on the Selection Committee for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund.
The appointment comes on the heels of a successful showing at Paris Fashion Week, where Browne, per usual, presented just as much a theater piece as a collection, with models transforming into the characters from Cinderella. Browne’s label has also seen a rise in popularity as of late, with sales growing by 47 percent in 2021, according to Vogue, the largest jump in Zegna’s portfolio.
Browne has already spoken on his goals as the head of the CFDA, with an emphasis on balancing creativity and commerce. “My most important message is that everyone should have all the opportunities to thrive as designers, but the core of this success has to start from pure creativity,” he said. “It is our responsibility as designers to keep the story being told in an uncompromisingly creative way that reaches all in the most positive way.”
Much of the position of CFDA Chairman is supporting growing labels, and Browne has a lot of experience when it comes to building a global brand from scratch. The Pennsylvania-born designer opened his namesake label in 2003 with just a few gray suits in a West Village storefront. These days, Browne is synonymous with American tailoring, bringing his distinct, quirky style to the previously limited wardrobe of workwear.
“Thom understands the steps that are required to build an American fashion business that is both successful and highly respected by the global fashion community,” said Kolb “He started as an independent menswear collection in New York, and developed his brand into a fast growing, profitable business with a strong global presence.”