LeBron James and the Cavs were just the start.
When LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers first stepped out in in head-to-toe Thom Browne during the NBA Playoffs, it was a menswear moment for the books, akin to Donald Glover’s purple Emmy’s tuxedo or Chadwick Boseman turning up in full papal regalia at this year’s Met Gala. It was also…unexpected. Browne is the architect of the shrunken suit jacket and above-the-ankle trouser—a silhouette more at home on capital “F” fashion types than on one of the world’s most-watched (and, uh, most physically imposing) athletes.
The partnership that saw the Cavs wear T.B. for the remainder of their away games during the playoffs put Browne’s aesthetic in front of more eyeballs than any fashion show ever could, and made a compelling case that a team uniform off the court could be just as powerful as one on it. It also seems to have laid the groundwork for Browne to dress another crew of professional athletes: FC Barcelona.
The Spanish soccer club announced today that it had recruited Thom Browne and the squad of gray wool-wearing talents in his atelier to be the “official provider of the team’s off-field tailored fits and formalwear uniforms,” according to a press release. The three-year agreement will kick off (sorry) with the 2018-2019 season later this summer. “I’m excited to be associated and work with the best athletes in the world, especially athletes that share similar values to Thom Browne,” the designer said in a statement. “I have always felt that world class athletes are the best role models and truly inspiring. The image of the players in the uniforms show true confidence and individuality that will inspire the youth of today.” It’s a move that puts the designer and his luxury brand among a small group of labels, all based in Europe, who’ve outfitted soccer clubs in recent years. The DSquared2 brothers put Manchester City in bomber jackets and trim trousers, while Giorgio Armani has dressed Bayern Munich’s players for the last few years in slim navy suits. We have to wait and see just how Browne dresses FC Barcelona’s players for off-the-pitch activities, but if LeBron & Co. were any indication, it will definitely be worth the wait.