Today Brooks Brothers is running an online campaign for its buttondown “polo” collar shirts. The tagline is “the shirt that changed history” (it’s also running as “a shirt that changed history”). Introduced in 1896, within a couple of decades it was already the default shirt for style-setting college men in the Northeast, and on places such as Wall Street, where such men went on to work.
But now history itself — namely the future history that is being made right now, if you follow me — is changing the shirt.
Last week a reader informed us that he spoke with Brooks Brothers’ customer service department as was told that traditional-fit shirts would no longer be offered in stores, and could only be purchased through the website. We reached out to a contact at the company to verify. A spokesperson reiterated that Brooks makes four cuts of shirt — traditional, regular, slim and extra-slim — but that traditional needs to be ordered online or in-store, as it’s not stocked on store shelves.
There is simply less demand for the traditional-fit model, whereas sales for the other three fits continue to grow each year. We recognize that that the traditional-fit shirt is important to some customers, therefore we continue to make it available in all the same fabrics.
The key phrase is “less demand.” Don’t blame the retailer, blame your fellow men. — CC
Recently J. Press sent out an email plugging its fall items, so if you haven’t visited the “new looks” page, take a look.
And while you’re there, tell me if things look a bit different compared to seasons past. The mannequin forms, shirt collars, tie choices — something feels like a piano slightly out of tune. (Continue)
We’re long overdue for an update on Kamakura Shirts. A couple months ago I had coffee with the NYC store manager and a a member of the founder’s family visiting from Japan, and they said the New York store is doing just great. In fact, they’re currently scouting for a second NY location, likely in the Financial District.
They were eager to point out that they’re not just about shirts. Their necktie range is expansive, and includes ties in fabrics from England and Italy as well as Japan. You can read about the fabrics and manufacturing here. They’ve also got a wide selection of pocket squares with plenty of trad appeal.
The brand was also recently featured in a Smithsonian Magazine article entitled “How Japan Copied American Culture And Made It Better,” from which the above photo of Kamakura founder Yoshio Sadassue is taken.
Finally, last December the brand held an Ivy party in Tokyo (multiple representatives from Ivy-Style.com, alas, were unable to attend). Head over here for party pix and see how it all went down. — CC
Amid the hoopla of National Underwear Day (yes, there is such a thing), one boxer stands out among the crowd: that of Mercer & Sons.
You can get them in pima oxford cloth by special request, but David Mercer says pinpoint oxford is better, telling us, “As a longtime fan of two-ply pima oxford shirts and boxers, I have decided that pinpoint, which I feel is a poor cousin to oxford and broadcloth for shirts, actually makes a superior boxer. Less bulky and the cloth really gets smooth over time.”
And with undergarments this fine, who’d want to take them off? — CC
In a previous article, I mentioned that native prints are not common among Ivy retailers today. This possibly overreaching assessment prompted me to make a more thoughly investigation of current offerings.
I approached O’Connell’s, the purveyor of all things traditional and known for its expansive collection of old stock. I struck out in finding any vintage heyday batik, but manager Ethan Huber shared with me the news that he was successful selling native prints last year and is offering again this year. The supplier of O’Connell’s native fabric items is Bills Khakis.
Readers who have followed the brand over the years have watche it go from one product to many. I asked founder Bill Thomas about native prints, and he said he’s offering the Parker model short in a kalamkari fabric. Kalamkari is an Indian fabric similar to batik. “The patterns were discovered in the archives of an old mill,” says Thomas. “It went back 50 years and took two days to look at all the samples of madras and kalamkari.” The fabric was introduced on a whim and is one of the more playful items in the collection. Thomas admits that Kalamkari is “off the register” both in wildness and in production. The hand-screening technique used creates imperfections in the print design. The shorts offered by Bill’s are in a 4.5-ounce cotton and 9.75 inseam. The Bills website offer two colors of Kalamkari shorts, golden sand and beach grass. Thomas suggests pairing them with solid polos, washed oxfords and chambray.
When we change the clocks twice a year, we remember the direction with the mnemonic device “spring forward, fall back.” But these days retailers bring out next season’s clothes earlier and earlier, and as soon as July 4th was over there were already signs of fall.
Yesterday Brooks Brothers sent out an email blast plugging its new fall items, so I went to the company’s website to check them out.
As always there’s an endless number of bland products. Most of the creativity, for better or worse, is in the Red Fleece collection, such as the robot tie above, which I kind of like, except that whenever I have a whimsical tie hanging in my closet I never feel like actually putting it on. (Continue)