Brooks Cancels Own Make, Says Will Keep Styles

CONTENT_Slice_OwnMake2

Brooks Brothers’ media relations department has confirmed a rumor posted by a commenter here that the company plans to discontinue the Own Make collection. A spokesperson issued the following statement to Ivy Style:

Own Make was a small range and an even smaller part of the business sold in a handful of retail stores. We no longer felt the need to move forward with the Own Make as a stand-alone label as we felt it created confusion for our customers. However we will still be keeping the styles and will be integrating them into our mainline collection label.

As of this morning, a follow-up question on whether the Southwick factory will continue to be used, or whether the styles will be kept but outsourced overseas has not been answered yet; we will keep you updated. — CC

54 Comments on "Brooks Cancels Own Make, Says Will Keep Styles"

  1. That rumor on here might have been started by me.

    When I dropped by to lament the dissolution of Black Fleece, I told the sales rep that the only things I bought at Brooks Brothers anymore were Black Fleece and Own Make trousers, and “at least I still have Own Make.” Then he went on to break my heart.

    The plan would be to integrate some of that stuff into Red Fleece, I guess.

  2. William Richardson | October 20, 2015 at 11:30 am |

    I hate to quote Hillary but “what difference, at this point, does it make?”

    Will

  3. Richard Meyer | October 20, 2015 at 11:58 am |

    look for more Malaysian mediocrity.

  4. Brooks has gone to hell. Just look at their instagram account. You could not tell the difference between them or J.Crew. I had the displeasure of meeting the man ruining the brand-Claudio Del Vecchio-he was disheveled and looked like he had just walked out of a mens warehouse mid 2000s. Shame that a brand for leaders is now just following.

  5. Bags' Groove | October 20, 2015 at 3:37 pm |

    @ Chewco
    Yeah, but no one likes being fleeced! Listen, it’s only Tuesday. Takes till Saturday for my humour to build to its customary crescendo.

  6. William Richardson | October 20, 2015 at 4:15 pm |

    @Bags

    Is your humor deficiency a product of your Own Making?………………Crickets.

    One more hour until G and T time and my humor improves, or not.

    Success to crime!

    Will

  7. I’m transitioning to old-fashioned season myself.

  8. William Richardson | October 20, 2015 at 4:26 pm |

    @Christian

    Have you ever posted about toasting?

    Will

  9. William Richardson,

    I heard crickets alright… J.P. Crickets to be exact… *a-hem* tough crowd.

    @Bags, I know people like to bash Thom Browne, and you can say what you want about Black Fleece, the patterns of the jackets were superb and perfect for going out. The trousers were of superlative quality. The hems were unfinished so the fit wasn’t an issue.

    Own Make tartan trousers (all of them) were an head-turner.

    I dunno… I always got compliments wearing black fleece/own make. I am afraid I am showing my age a little. You guys seem to be saying: “good riddance!”

  10. Bags' Groove | October 20, 2015 at 4:40 pm |

    William, feel for me, baby. I don’t drink during the week. Health fiercely dictates. But it was great fun when I was toasting the Queen every night…erm, what I can remember of it.

  11. William Richardson | October 20, 2015 at 6:17 pm |

    @Bags

    The Queen? That would explain the spelling of humor with a u. Pip pip and cheerio old bean. I’ll have another for you.

    Will

  12. I’ve concluded that BB enjoys ruining its own things. Alas for them, there’s very little left to do.

  13. Own Make was a trial balloon of sorts to see if there were any legs to the trad/ivy predilections of their client base. It’s obvious that their discontinuation of this line only reaffirms our sub conscious understanding that we’re all, alas, a dying breed, destined to dance on the fringe. They’ll take whatever units sold well, assimilate them into their flagship line, and continue to push us further into irrelevance. We are a marginalized breed, no?

  14. William Richardson | October 21, 2015 at 10:34 am |

    @WFBjr

    A special breed with discriminating taste.

    Will

  15. @WFBjr,

    What I liked most about Own Make was that, as you’ve said, it had a very traditional style (straight from their archives, they exclaimed), but with a very (very) modern fit. Its the slimmest fit they had – they even preemptively advised I sized up (I didn’t need to). Own Make was great since I’d like to dress like my granddad, but not look like a grandpa (if that makes sense). So this, as I myself make it sound, was a very niche customer base.

    So buying Own Make meant I needed to size up? What about buying something totally different, like Brioni? Well, trying on one of those jackets I was told I needed to size down. The guy literally said the “older crowd is usually rounder in the mid-section.”

    If you can follow my syllogistic reasoning here, I should conjecture that Own Make was discontinued because most of the people who loved Own Make and wanted to buy it purely couldn’t fit in the jackets. Not that the “trad”-species is becoming extinct.

    Another dead-and-gone but absolutely exquisite line was their Natural Craftsmanship line. They should bring that back as a stand alone like Black Fleece.

  16. Steven in Buckhead | October 22, 2015 at 4:08 pm |

    Brooks is still one of the few places to get key pieces, but the quality is lacking.
    They also do not stock Aldens like they used to. Had to wait about 2 months to get my size in the LHS

  17. Why can’t Brooks Brothers return to its pre-eminent position when it made the best clothing, the most classic and the most traditional? What exactly are they searching for? I can’t understand if there is any philosophy or leadership at that brand.

  18. Brooks Brothers never made the best clothing. They made good clothes at a good price. You can also still buy most of what made BB good as well. Southwick MTM in the store or elsewhere. Mercer Shirts, Alden shoes. It’s not like it has disappeared. You have to know where to look and expect to pay for it. It’s tiring reading about so many folks who whine about nothing.

  19. @Steven in Buckhead:

    Brooks no longer carries sack blazers in-store (online only) and when I went in to one of the D.C. stores recently to grab a white non-non-iron OCBD the clerk had to go digging around in the back to find one. I don’t know if they still really carry the “key pieces” the way they used to. At the very least they make it difficult to run in and grab them when you need them.

  20. I agree with EwS.

    I’d add that Brooks Brothers has not been a very good store for more than twenty years now for much beyond ties and socks.

  21. I shop at the BB in Pittsburgh. It has been at least three years since they even had a necktie that I liked. I wonder how much longer the Compny will survive with Claudio at the helm. I walk through the store and do not see anything I like. Big change from when I was in college twenty years ago, when the stuff was the coolest and preppiest stuff around.

  22. Charlottesville | October 27, 2015 at 3:34 pm |

    JR and RWS – 20 years is about right. The early 1990s or thereabout seemed to mark the end for finding a decent selection of good quality traditional clothing at BB, although a few items may have remained for a while thereafter. I paid $650 for the gray chalk stripe BB Golden Fleece 3/2 sack suit that I wore to work yesterday, and I received two complements on it after nearly 30 years. Today that would be around $1,300 I suppose, but still good value for money. While EwS is correct that similar items are still available, one-stop shopping is certainly not (with the possible exception of O’Connell’s and a few others which are a bit off the beaten path). J. Press has a couple of Southwick suits showing on their website that look like they may be up to the old standard, and I may need to buy a couple before that source too disappears.

  23. Charlottesville – I don’t know the exact suit you were looking at, but I can attest that the Southwick stuff for Press is a lot better in the shoulders than the S. Cohen stuff right now, having tried on a bunch a couple weeks ago.

  24. Charlottesville | October 28, 2015 at 11:06 am |

    Mr. McDermott – Thanks for the confirmation. The “Pressidential” navy chalk stripe and grey glen plaid, at $1,350 each are the two that caught my eye. I need to go visit Chris in the DC store and try one on. Interesting that the price is virtually identical to that of my BB favorites from 30 years ago, adjusted for inflation. They are very tempting, although I am not certain the personal exchequer can bear the strain at the moment.

  25. Charlottesville – Chris is a friend of mine! I live in D.C. and drop in there often. All great guys. I tried on a lot of jackets when I was there a few weeks ago and ended up picking up a co-labeled Southwick/Press blazer and the shoulder is pretty good. Not totally there, but pretty good.

  26. Just saw this: https://instagram.com/p/9Yo5IQHfop/?taken-by=brooksbrothers

    So many things wrong with that one photo 🙁

  27. William Richardson | October 28, 2015 at 2:40 pm |

    @Chewco

    It has reached the point that I actually feel sorry for BB. What on earth are they thinking?

    Will

  28. @Here in Van Nuys
    You asked, “Why can’t Brooks Brothers return to its pre-eminent position when it made the best clothing, the most classic and the most traditional?”

    I suggest the answer might be fairly simple–the target market for classic and traditional clothing is much smaller than what can support their stores. According to their website (I just looked), BB has more than 250 retail and factory stores in the U.S. alone. A far cry from the number of stores 30, 40, 50 years ago. The beast must be fed. And when you actually MAKE things for your outlet stores…well, you’ve gone too far.

    You may ask why can’t they do both–traditional and more contemporary? A fair question for which I have no answer, other than the market still may not be big enough. If enough people demanded must-iron oxford shirts in the stores, there would be plenty on hand–no store clerk would have go digging in back to find one.

  29. Charlottesville | October 28, 2015 at 3:22 pm |

    Mr. McDermott – Thanks for the recommendation on the Southwicks at J. Press. My wife and I lived in Washington for a number of years before relocating to the country some time ago. Please tell Chris that his occasional customer from UVA-Land sends his greetings.

    Chewco and Will — As you both indicate, that picture sums up just about all that is wrong with BB. It looks like a United Colors of Benetton ad. Just another Italian mass retailer trying to be trendy in a hundred American shopping malls. If you want good Italian style, fine. Ask frequent and knowledgeable commenter Carmelo for advice, but give up on today’s Brooks. Today I’m wearing a BB camel hair sack from 25 years ago, and with luck perhaps it will last another 25.

  30. Charlottesville – I love that town!

    Well, that picture sucks. And he buttoned the bottom button too. Ugh. Here is a quote from Ralph Lauren about Brooks Brothers that he made 30 years ago(!) almost to this day, which I believe summarizes most people’s sentiments on here:

    “Brooks Brothers was the foundation, and I revived it. I worked for them and wore all their clothes; I also left them as a consumer when they started making Dacron and polyester. They no longer had a style, and I was a traditional guy. So I saw the opening in the whole market and said, “Well, I want to look like this, and I don’t want to shop here anymore. They’re not moving.” They did change, but they became more ordinary, more mundane. I was not going to be high fashion, but I did believe in individual sophistication, a more customized look – what Brooks Brothers used to be when they were great. That was what I went after, what I love, which is a life-style. Men who had a lot of money would go into Brooks Brothers to buy shirts, and say, “Give me three white, three blue, and three pink,” and they’d walk out. They’d do it every year, year in and out. They weren’t interested in what was the latest this or the latest that. I recognized a certain mentality and security about them. Working there was like going to an Ivy League school; there was an “in-ness,” a quiet “in-ness” about that kind of place.”

    – Ralph Lauren, New York Magazine – 10/21/1985

    You heard it from RL himself, BB stopped being “trad” 30 years ago.

  31. Here is the source of that quote (on page 43): https://books.google.com/books?id=HccBAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA43&lpg=PA43&dq#v=onepage&q&f=false

    But look at those Polo RL jackets on page 42!

  32. When thinking of the current BB, I feel like I lost a dear friend. In fact earlier today I wore a 3/2 grey BB Brooksease Sack and thought about how much I missed the Brooksease line. To me it was the best balance of cost, fit and value in a ready made suit. After so many changes over the past few year, there is very little in the store that I like, or would purchase. A recent experience is telling. I needed a new 3/2 sack blazer after years of faithful service. I went into my local BB and spoke to a salesman- they did not have my size in stock, but one was ordered into the store for me. The jacket arrived about a week later. I went in for a fitting and it was obvious that it was at least 1 size too small. Armholes were much higher and cut to be trimmer than what I was used to and the jacket length was about 2 inches shorter. Shoulders were narrower as well. The salesman immediately offered to have another jacket sent to the store. He actually ordered 2 more to be sure that he would have a correct size. Unfortunately when the new jackets arrived, it became obvious that the traditional 3/2 BB sack has been recut in a trim “hipster” pattern. I then went to another mens shop in town, one that is an official Southwick store, and I brought my original BB sack blazer with me. The salesman understood my dilemma as I was not the first person to complain about changes at BB. He called his Southwick rep at the factory who asked the salesman to look inside the pocket of my blazer for a series of manufacturing codes. It transpired that my original blazer was made by Southwick for BB, and was still available as a standard Southwick cut. My measurements were recorded and a few weeks later I received a message from the store regarding my jacket. I stopped in and was presented with what was essentially a new example of my old blazer. Perfect fit and a happy customer. ! The irony is that I had to go to another store to purchase from Southwick (owned by BB !!) what BB would not directly sell to me ! And don’t get me started about the resizing of their shirts……

  33. Joseph Mitchell | November 1, 2015 at 3:55 am |

    If BB was still as good as it used to be, it seems to me that there’d be no need whatsoever for a blog like this.

  34. originalhenry | November 1, 2015 at 10:37 pm |

    Henry here.

    A couple years ago, I got some BB shirts; one of them had a manufacturing defect that required immediate replacement. Customer service took care of it right away, but I was unimpressed. As it turns out, the shirts are good enough, but one of them already needs replacing. My Lands End shirts are more durable.

    BB is carrying detachable collar dress shirts (for white and black tie) again, but the website misidentifies the cufflink-requiring single cuff as a French cuff! BB is populated by ignoramuses. Next thing you know, they’ll be selling “shirtings,” “suitings,” and “tuxedo blazer tails.”

  35. Señor Yuca | November 2, 2015 at 5:24 am |

    ‘Brooks Brothers never made the best clothing. They made good clothes at a good price. You can also still buy most of what made BB good as well. Southwick MTM in the store or elsewhere. Mercer Shirts, Alden shoes. It’s not like it has disappeared.’

    So who made better button down collar shirts than Brooks? Imo: no one. Ever.

    And Mercers are certainly very good, but they are not as good as the old Brooks Makers shirts. (I have some of the former and plenty of the latter.) That’s not even taking into account the fact that Mercers take at least 3 weeks plus shipping, whereas Brooks were there on the shelf in a number of cities and via mail order. Also I believe Makers shirts were cheaper at the time than Mercers are now.

    In fact I believe that Brooks were the best all around within the field that they created i.e. natural shoulder clothing. Even if someone back then had visited a tailor to get materials and construction that were superior to Brooks’ finest lines, there was still the fact that Brooks styling was the best. Look at the old Brooks catalogues and somehow they got the cut perfect on sports coats and suits. Plus the quality of materials and cut was generally outstanding. (I’m referring to Brooks in the 50s and 60s and, perhaps to a lesser extent, in the 70s and 80s.)

  36. Señor Yuca | November 2, 2015 at 5:25 am |

    Should read: Plus the quality of materials and construction was generally outstanding.

  37. Wright Hall | November 2, 2015 at 1:22 pm |

    I never even consider buying new Brooks Brothers. Never visit the shop. Nothing more to say about it. But on the bright side, it could be the case that J. Press is listening to its customers and is trying to turn things around shoulder-wise. Here’s hoping that the positive direction at Press continues and that the company does reopen in NYC and that the new store pleases us.

  38. Yuca,

    http://magazine.brooksbrothers.com/visit-southwick/

    “In 2008, Brooks Brothers purchased legendary American clothing manufacturer, Southwick, plucking it from obsolescence and restoring it to its former glory.”

    “… obsolescence…”

    “restoring… former glory.”

  39. That’s great but are Brooks made in the US suits of 2015 really comparable to their suits of the past? Personally I doubt it. I’m absolutely certain that their present made in the US shirts are not fit to be mentioned in the same sentence as the old Makers shirts. (Although I just have of course.)

    Or have I missed your point?

  40. Well, my comments were half-sarcastic. You were of the opinion that Brooks ruined Southwick and I was meerly pointing out that Brooks ironically had an antithetical opinion. Re: “made in USA” 2015 garments by Brooks Brothers, I can speak only for their Own Make line. Jackets, pants and shirts were comparable to Golden Fleece (except being only half-canvassed). They were all sack, 3/2 roll, hooked-vented, soft-shoulder jackets. They were priced competitively with J. Press, and whilst on sale, an absolute steal. The patterns were truly vintage. The only complaint, and I agree with you here, was the sizes all ran a bit small, and it caught people off-guard.

    I think commentators on ivy-style are being a little nit-picky about Brooks styling. After all they are a business, and they are trying to remain relevant. Which explains their progressive styling.

    On that point: I admire RL’s business model; it’s quite interesting. RL has multiple lines, that are extremely different; quite schizophrenic. The buyers of one line would never ever buy another. RL copied Brooks. I think its time for Brooks to take a cue from RL. Don’t get rid of Own Make, create more lines, and target different demographics. I’m sure in that venture, the 60s styling would be revived. They have a pretty impressive vault – oldest existing clothes maker in the USA.

  41. I can personally attest to this fact: Southwick clothing is as well made as it was 30 years ago. Period. I’ve bought and worn a lot of Southwick MTM pieces throughout the past few years, and it is, to borrow a phrase, “great stuff.” Do I wish the box (stock) cloth was better (i.e. hard-wearing British tweeds and worsteds)? Sure. But the craftsmanship is still there. What would have happened to Southwick had Brooks not intervened? Death, likely.

    Regarding the Brooks OCBD: this is potentially controversial territory, so I’ll tread lightly. The problem isn’t the lining. In fact, I think the thinnest bit of collar lining (we’re talking tissue paper) is desirable if a fellow is after that true liberty bell roll.* The presiding issue is the length of the collar. A lightly lined 4″ OCBD collar renders a better roll than a 3 3/8″ unlined collar. Especially as time goes on.

    *Not everybody likes or wants a collar that’s so lacking in structure that it’s roll-less.

  42. Señor Yuca | November 3, 2015 at 1:20 pm |

    @Chewco: I haven’t mentioned Southwick (of whom I have no experience, vintage or new) so you may be confusing me with another poster.

    @S.E. A thin collar lining is necessary with certain cloths that are lighter than Oxford, which is what Brooks did then and Mercer do now. Unlined collars on the old Brooks Oxfords certainly did not mean roll-less collars – it meant the opposite i.e. collar perfection. I disagree that ‘The presiding issue is the length of the collar’ – certain details made the old Makers shirts perfect (which is why they achieved iconic status) and the length of the collar is one of those details. However collar length changed minutely over the decades prior to the late 80s without any damage to the collar roll. Indeed I believe in the 50s and 60s Brooks collars were only around 3″ and the Oxfords were unlined – and they had the finest roll of all time.

    The method of creating those shirts has probably been lost now.

  43. S.E.,

    Great points about collar point and lining. I will tread lightly as well, but will admit that I like a little lining for the exact reason that you mentioned.

  44. A.E.W. Mason | November 3, 2015 at 2:23 pm |

    Fully agree on Southwick. And, take care of a Southwick garment and it will last forever. I have several from the mid-1990s and they look even better with age. And I have no problem paying to have my tailor replace a lining. I’d add, by the way, H. Freeman as making great natural shoulder suit.

    Brooks’s Garland made oxford is a good shirt. It would be even better if the collar were just a quarter inch longer. But it has a nice roll nevertheless. The J. Press oxfords I own, which are somewhat old, have fused collars but the roll is still nice. But, as I’ve said before, the recent J. Press butcher stripes I’ve purchased seem to have no roll. I just purchased some oxfords (not the unlined/un-fused) from O’Connell’s and like the fit and the roll.

    I’ve been tempted to try a button-down from Ben Silver, but something in me backs away from paying, what, $195.00 for a single OCBD. Anyone acquired any? And if so, how are they?

  45. I also agree on Southwick. I have Southwick sack blazer made for Cable Car that’s probably about 35 years old (I’m not the original owner) and a brand new Southwick sack blazer made for J. Press. Two of the best made jackets I own and the older one doesn’t look too far off from the new one save for an extra quarter inch of lapel.

  46. A 3″ collar with a good roll? I don’t buy it. As is the case in other arenas of life, length matters.

  47. Speaking of tailoring, I hear J. Press has been using a manufacturer called “Empire.” Anybody know anything worth sharing?

  48. Señor Yuca | November 3, 2015 at 5:12 pm |

    No need to be bawdy S.E.

  49. S.E.,

    Commenter L-Feld was the first to make me aware of Empire as he had a jacket made from them made up at Eddie Jacobs in Baltimore. It was a good looking sport coat.

    I believe that this jacket at O’Connell’s (http://www.oconnellsclothing.com/O-Connell-s-Soft-Shouldered-Wool-Travel-Blazer-Blue.html) is made Empire as well. I am sure that Ethan would verify. Empire is listed as one of their manufacturers. Not sure if they offer MTM there or not.

  50. I can attest to Empire, another Canadian company, making coats for Press. I just got a blue/green herringbone tweed sack at the D.C. store. The shoulder is WAY better than the recent past and the cut is just right, in my opinion. I have been wanting a Press tweed for a while, but just wouldn’t pull the trigger on the Cohen stuff because of the shoulder. I hope Press sticks with Empire, but for right now it’s just a run of herringbones as far as a I know (blue/green, brown, tan and black/white).

  51. Good stuff, L-Feld. I’ll throw one in there too to show off the fit of the stuff Empire is doing for Press. Please excuse the wrinkled chinos.

    http://i577.photobucket.com/albums/ss212/rmpmcdermott/presswithsweater_zpsldpqpgme.jpg

  52. Señor Yuca | November 5, 2015 at 2:45 pm |

    FAO S.E.: firstly I trust you realised that my ‘bawdy’ comment above was in jest. (Be as bawdy as you want as far as I’m concerned.)

    I have measured some of my Brooks Makers BD shirts (all I think 70s or 80s) and collars are all 3 1/8″ or 3 2/8″. However I have it from 3 sources that in the 50s – when Brooks shirts were at their peak, with an unbeatable collar roll – their collars were 3″
    http://forums.filmnoirbuff.com/viewtopic.php?id=18059&p=3

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