Thakoon ads started popping up on subway entrances around New York City and on Instagram in September. Thakoon Panichgul, who put his brand on hold back in 2017, has reemerged post-hiatus with a new direct-to-consumer business model, offering everyday essentials at easy-on-the-wallet prices. The collection shares an aesthetic with Panichgul’s other new project, a self-funded magazine for women who like to wear menswear that he dubbed HommeGirls. The best-sellers from the first collection are cotton pleat-front trousers with an elasticized waistband that ring up at $135. He reports that customers are buying two pairs: one to wear with heels, and another to hem and wear with sneakers. It’s a long way from the printed party frocks he was previously known for.
Which is exactly as Panichgul intends it. He spent his “fashion sabbatical” rethinking how he wanted to approach his business. Since he launched, circa 2004, the industry has undergone massive shifts: Street wear and athleisure altered the way women dress, and social media changed the way we shop. At the end of his time away Panichgul was sure of three things: one, that the days of designing 200 styles per season were over. “It’s a quieter conversation that we’re having, but one that has a lot of meat on the bones. It’s exciting to take all the energy I used to put into the runway into 15 styles.” Two, that a designer price point no longer made sense. “I shop Uniqlo, APC, really inexpensive stuff, and the quality is good. Now the customer expectation is different.” And three, that he believes in real clothes for real people. “I’m not a designer that’s about making an artistic statement,” he says, “it’s about practicality, functionality—clothes you want to keep in your closet for a long time.”
Today, Panichgul will begin testing that theory IRL in his new shop on Bleecker Street, two doors down from Magnolia Bakery. Other direct-to-consumer brands like LoveShackFancy, Huckberry, and Naadam (the cashmere brand and Thakoon share a CEO, Matt Scanlan), have set up bricks-and-mortar locations in the neighborhood, so he’s in good company. And Panichgul is planning to spend some time in the small, cozy shop. “I want to hang out, I want to learn; I like that idea of the designer being in the shop, to feel the climate and take the temperature of what people are gravitating towards,” he says. “It’s about being behind the counter sometimes.” Younger customers don’t just want different kinds of pieces, they’re shopping differently, too. “They have a virtual cart, and they come in and want to touch, but then they go and purchase online.” Nonetheless, we expect he’ll sell a whole lot more of those pleat-front cotton pants.