Thom Browne fights a lawsuit while wearing a shorts suit

If the idea of “shorts as party wear” has had any sort of renaissance over the past few years, it’s thanks to American designer Thom Browne, whose signature shrunk short suits has turned Met Gala carpets, NBA tunnels and global fashion weeks into remarkably leggy venues. Tom Ford may have once banished shorts from the island of Manhattan, but Browne and his boisterous cadre of celebrity ambassadors brought them back to town and surfed a wave of boyish gray twill with various three-, four- and five-pin stripes.

And Browne, often his own brashest proponent of the formal shorts agenda, has found an even more interesting place to wear them: to court. When designer Thom Browne arrived at US District Court in Manhattan this morning, he wore the archetypal Thom Browne ensemble from head to toe: shrunken jacket and tie, knit cardigan, leather brogues and tailored suit shorts that hit just above the knee—all the better showing off his hike-up, four-bar-striped athletic socks.

For context: In 2021, German sportswear juggernaut Adidas filed a trademark infringement suit against the Thom Browne brand, citing what it calls a similarity between its famous three-stripe branding and the parallel stripes (in sets of two, three and most often four) are often seen around the calves, thighs and upper arms of Thom Browne clothing. The trial claims that “Thom Browne sports apparel and footwear features three and four stripes in ways that adidas claims are likely to mislead, confuse, and mislead actual and potential purchasers of adidas merchandise,” with particular focus on the brand’s ongoing athletic collaborations with the Spanish football giant FC Barcelona (and that club’s long-time Adidas associate star, Lionel Messi). The label disputes this claim, essentially saying that Adidas is rehashing already pressed beef: “What’s important to understand is that Adidas gave its consent to Thom Browne over 10 years ago and actually suggested that Thom add an extra stripe to reach four on the sleeves or the pants and that this would be OK by Adidas. From that point on for over a decade, Adidas never said a word to Thom Browne,” said a spokesperson for the brand. WWD in 2021. “It is only now that Thom has finally achieved some success that Adidas has behaved differently.”

Adidas and Thom Browne might both make multi-striped shorts, although you’d probably only get away with wearing the latter’s shorts to court – although only Thom Browne himself could get away with it. That said, it looks like the designer just followed his advice gave GQ on wearing shorts in non-shorts places: “…dudes…if you wanna…go for it…”

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