In jacket and matching shorts, which exposed well-defined gams that kneesocks couldn't quite hide, Thom Browne was his own best advertisement at a Bergdorf Goodman showcase.

As two of his favorite indie bands alternated playing short sets while sporting tailored outfits from his new collection, Browne declared that the T-shirt-and-jean uniform is now so ubiquitous that its anti-establishment credentials are shot. For young rockers, bespoke is the new rebel yell. That means gorgeous fabrics, French-cuffed shirts, mother-of-pearl buttons, and jackets with surgeon's sleeves (the buttonholes work!).

But Browne's new clothes are about more than just tradition. He likes awkwardness (it undercuts the boringness of perfection), which is why his signature outfit is that shorts suit, proportioned like a boy's school uniform. There was awkwardness in his other proportions, too: the cropped jackets and trousers, the checked coat with high slash pockets (evoking the self-consciousness of a preteen Prince Charles), the button-down collar on a fitted shirt whose short sleeves also featured a tiny buttoned cuff.

The general air of subtle subversion was also evident in the rough-and-smooth contrast of a crumpled evening shirt under a raw-silk jacket or the twisted mod sharpness of a three-piece suit in palest lemon brocade. Odd—but so confident and luxurious that it became an object of desire.