Brooks’ New Golden Fleece Collection With Activewear Shoulders

Ah, the search for the happy medium. This tie’s too wide, this one too narrow. This trouser has a full rise but the leg’s too baggy; this one has a slim leg but a low rise. You get the picture. It’s something every man who’s exacting about his clothes goes through.

Enter the new Golden Fleece collection, which has been updated once again by Brooks Brothers. I overheard a salesman the other day saying it was a new capsule collection they were testing out, and it’s on the Brooks site as one of the few things not on sale.

So what does this have to do with happy mediums? Well, the shoulders on the new Golden Fleece jackets do not take the middle ground. They are instead at the opposite end of the spectrum from, say, J. Press’ Canadian-made shoulders of recent vintage. Whereas the Press shoulders were squared-off and overly padded, the new Golden Fleece shoulders have nothing in them at all. Like a slack jacket. Or a cardigan. Or, perhaps most appropriate, a track suit.

Check out the description from Brooks’ website:

It is lightweight and minimally constructed at the shoulders for a supersoft comfort that’s similar to your favorite activewear.

Yes, the jackets are two-button, double-vented and made from Italian fabrics, so not exactly trad in any way. But the non-existent shoulder is somewhat interesting. Is it a negative, in the sense of being too extreme? Or is it somehow a positive sign of the overall direction of menswear moving towards “natural shoulders”? I say menswear because for years now Brooks has given the impression of reacting to outside trends rather than setting its own.

On the models the jackets seem to be shown at a more normal length, a welcome improvement from the short trend that lasted far too long. But there are other curiosities, such as the high gorge.

And then there are the prices. Sportcoats are $1,498 and suits $2,498. But at least you finally get horn buttons. The collection also includes some cotton trousers priced at $398, and plenty of pricey zippered sweaters. But remember, this is Brooks’ top-shelf collection.

In the meantime, we in Tradsville continue to hold out for the reintroduction of the old pattern. In fashion nothing’s quite as fresh as something long gone, and here’s a perfect example of a garment with natural shoulders and an easy cut. Couldn’t it be just the thing for today’s activewear-obsessed consumer? — CC

24 Comments on "Brooks’ New Golden Fleece Collection With Activewear Shoulders"

  1. Where does one find higher rise slimmer legged pants?

  2. Charlottesville | January 5, 2017 at 2:30 pm |

    Christian — Speaking of natural shoulders, I hope that your sport coat venture is a resounding success. However, put me down as a “no” on the new BB sweatshirt shoulder, although it is better than the broad, square version, I suppose. And while the jackets’ length may not be in Thom Browne territory, they still look like bum-freezers to me. I almost feel sorry for them, i.e., the models, Brooks, its sales force and their customers. The guy in the blue plaid is a doppelganger for one of the young fashion victims I see at work from time to time. I know they are really trying, but the call of trendy haberdashers seems to have captured their imaginations, from their Tintin haircuts right down to the soles of their double monks. I wish Carmelo could stop by and teach them about classic Italian style and craftsmanship, rather than the Pitti Uomo silliness they seem to have adopted. Ah, well, the 70s produced some truly awful fashions, and I rarely see men wearing leisure suits or bell bottoms these days, so hopefully this too will fade soon. On a positive note, please put me down as an enthusiastic yes for jacket D in the last picture if your dream of Brooks’ return to the classics should come true. I am crossing my fingers, but not holding my breath.

  3. This concept could be entree’ for a 21st century traditionalism in “tailored” clothing. It doesn’t say “thin young men only need apply”. My favorite jacket is one from Polo that is very much in that vein: semi-constucted (in Italy), minimal lining, very soft tweed, open patch pockets. Lighter sweater will fit underneath it. I might be too mature to pull off the cargo pants look, but jeans work and cords do nicely. I do hope makers will look at this as an opportunity to get American men to dress tastefully again.

  4. Thanks, Christian.

  5. roger e. sack | January 5, 2017 at 3:24 pm |

    Looks like the latest example of Brooks’ flailing which has been going on for decades.
    Any one remember ” Brooks English” from the 90s… a paler version of Savile Row?
    I still have two of their ” English'” type shirts. So here we have a pseudo Neapolitan cut
    semi unstructured. The fabric choices shown look like the patterns Italy makes for the
    US market, which are all over the web or at a brick and mortar store near you. The downward
    spiral continues.

  6. Unfortunately, Christian, I think you are wrong. I tried out those Madison flannels and the rise was not appreciably higher than the Regent fit.

  7. I double-checked the measurement and mine are 12 inches from the crotch seam to the top of the waistband. I suppose it depends on what the definition of “full rise” is, and the size of your waist.

  8. Vern Trotter | January 5, 2017 at 6:18 pm |

    Re the old exhibit D, of which I have many, the head tailor at BB 346 Madson told me several years ago that there was no company that will make them anymore. But I agree we can dream.

    Woebegone is how I would describe this new Golden Fleece collection!

  9. These look like knock-off Drake’s

  10. I’ll guess they’re using Southwick for this incarnation of Golden Fleece. Looks a lot like the Dartmouth model:

    http://epauletnewyork.com/products/dartmouth-unstructured-sportcoat-navy-hopsack

  11. rene.lebenthal@gmail.com | January 6, 2017 at 3:31 am |

    Christian,

    All the stuff shown by BB reminds me very much a copy of the italian brand “Boggi Milano”, which has no store in the US as far as I know. But the is much mor affordable……
    Just check out:
    http://www.boggi.com/en_US/search

  12. “high gorge”?

  13. Jonathan Sanders | January 6, 2017 at 9:48 am |

    whenever I see those old BB catalog shots, I want those suits and jackets.

  14. @Paul

    ” The gorge is the point on a jacket where the collar is attached to lapel, but in common parlance, it’s the lapel’s notch. A slightly higher gorge can make a suit look more rakish and modern. Italians in general, and Neapolitans in particular, tend to make suits with a higher gorge than their American and British counterparts”

  15. Charlottesville | January 6, 2017 at 10:29 am |

    Jonathan and Vern — You and I are on the same page. I still have a couple of wearable Brooks suits and a tweed sport coat that I bought in the 80s, and have managed to add a few more items of old Brooks and Press stock from thrift shops. It took me some time to get over my reluctance to buy what is in fact used clothing, but I have found thrift shops to be a good source if one knows what one wants and is careful. It takes some patience, and a bit of luck, but it has surprised me that I can still occasionally find either new or virtually unworn suits and coats from the Golden (Fleece) Age for $50 or less and the price of dry cleaning. The blogger Heavy Tweed Jacket also seems to have discovered a supply of new-old-stock Brooks OCBDs from the 60s and 70s, back when the collar roll did not cost $140. So all is not lost, although admittedly it is not quite the same as walking into the store at Madison and 44th.

  16. Thanks Etymologue!

  17. I agree with DCG. High gorge, side vents, french facing, all are characteristics of the Belvest jackets made for Drake’s.

  18. Are beards Ivy League now? Seems more like a millennial brat look.

  19. I’ve noticed a lot of beards the past 10 years on men who were neither millennial nor brats.

  20. heh heh

  21. whiskeydent | January 13, 2017 at 3:25 pm |

    But Christian, were any of them not in your mirror?

  22. My literary agent showed up for my photo exhibit tonight looking dashing in a new one. Beards seem to flatter most men.

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