The Collaboration: Thom Browne et Moncler
Taking things a step further, on Friday, Material Interest revealed a first look at Thom Browne’s collaboration with French outerwear company Moncler.
The name Moncler, short for Monastier de Clermont, a place near Grenoble, carries with it a considerable amount of weight in the world of outdoor exploration — considerable given the jackets are famously “weightless.”
The company was founded in 1933 by René Ramillon and André Vincent, metal merchants in Grenoble who originally produced tent frames, ski poles, and bindings. After providing the French Army with alpine gear during World War II, Ramillon and Vincent took to modifying the “blue boxes,” the doudoune — down-filled — jackets they’d seen their employees sporting around the factory floor.
In 1954, Moncler helped Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni to become the first to summit Karakorum, K2, the world’s second highest peak.
While Eddie Bauer is credited with patenting and inventing the down-filled jacket in 1940, many consider Moncler to be the first company to harness down’s lofting power and put it to use in the outdoor exploration and adventure markets. Loft is the feather’s ability to trap small pockets of air which provide a layer of thermal protection. Down feathers are rated by their fill power, or truly, fluffiness, compressibility, and weight. The more fluffy, the more compressible, and the lighter the down, the higher the rating, the easier and more quickly the feather will provide warmth. Without getting too technical, while most down comes from geese raised for food, the highest fill power comes from the older geese kept to breed. Their down feathers moult naturally, and with 700+ fill power, they are the largest and most lofty.
It’s important to recognize Mr. Browne’s appreciation for the classics. After speaking with Gabriel, a salesperson at Brooks Brothers’ Madison Ave. location, about the intense amount of research Mr. Browne did in collaborating with them, I’ve come to realize when he collaborates, as he has with Brooks Brothers, Tricker’s, and now Moncler, he does so with the standard-bearer. I can think of no better way of turning your brand into a classic than to ally with those already in existence.
As T.S. Eliot is famously misquoted, “good poets borrow, great poets steal.”
I think Mr. Browne would be more fond of what Eliot originally said:
One of the surest tests [of the superiority or inferiority of a poet] is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.
While Thom Browne’s collaboration with Moncler may not be the first to offer a down blazer (Junya Watanabe’s F/W ’07 collection offered one as well), his is the first to do so with such aplomb. The gold crest buttons and his signature snug cut will make for quite the statement next fall. Whether skating in Rockefeller Center on your lunch break, climbing — on belay or off — to your 4oth floor office in the John Hancock Center, or skiing the snow-covered cliffs of Chamonix, you’ll set the precedence, a classic in the making.