Daniel C. Greenwood’s debut Millenial Fogey column on Brooks Brothers certainly stirred up discussion. It especially stirred up Chris Sharp, Ivy Style’s normally circumspect and disinterested assistant editor, known for his well researched historical pieces. He found himself inspired to lay his heart bare to the brand so dear to him that he recalls shopping excursions more vividly than otherwise more important days in his life.
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Daniel C. Greenwood’s recent piece, “Why do we get so worked up Over Brooks Brothers?” is well timed coming after New Year’s, as I am still in throws of a lingering Auld Lang Syne-style emotional hangover. His piece is certainly a reminder that I hold Brooks Brothers partially responsible for my condition.
Like a Dickensian ghost, an image of a lost Brooks Brothers executive haunts my subconscious. He asks me, “How can Brooks Brothers be relevant in 2015?”
“I’m afraid I don’t know how to be relevant myself,” I reply. Then I offer the phantasm this: “But I can tell you how to be Brooks Brothers, in case you’ve forgotten.”
It seems that Mr. Greenwood pounding on his keypad is answering the same ghost. He is among the millions of fingers on keyboards expressing frustration on websites and Internet forums. A legion of middle-aged men and young fogeys who are telling Brooks Brothers how to be Brooks Brothers. The problem for us is that Brooks Brothers does not seem to be answering that question.
In that case, a more to-the-point query might be, “Why does it sometimes feel like we care more about Brooks Brothers than Brooks Brothers itself?” But answering that might take a team of mental health professionals. It is certainly about us, how we feel about the past, and how we view the future. I am reminded of the Annie Tempest cartoon in which an airchaired old curmudgeon says to his pal over a glass of scotch, “The future’s is not what it used to be, Dickie.” (Continue)
Daniel C. Greenwood (“DCG” in the comments section, and the singer in our Christmas recital video) herein debuts the first in a series of musings on the current retail landscape for trad clothing. He brings a fresh and young voice to Ivy Style, being under 30 yet with a great interest in this style’s long history. Having had the face of a 35-year-old since before he started shaving, Greenwood’s column will go by the name The Millennial Fogey.
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Sitting on the train recently something stole my attention from my better half. As I furiously hammered away at my smart phone, she asked me if everything was OK, and was suprised I said of course. Apparently she thought I was dealing with some terrible emergency.
In fact I was commenting on a Brooks Brothers social media post describing dressing up sweatpants with a navy blazer.
In my increasingly excited state, I rattled off a whole list of changes I wanted to see: taking the lining out of the oxford collars, fixing the fit of Own Make and bringing the price down, improving the design of its paisley ties, the rise and finish of its khakis — I could have gone on all day. My ever-patient girlfriend rolled her eyes and watched me chew out a billion-dollar apparel company on the Internet.
Strange how I don’t have the kind of arguments with my girlfriend that I do with Brooks Brothers.
What is it about Brooks Brothers that inspires such passion in us? More to the point, why has the relationship between traditional menswear consumers and Brooks Brothers gotten so dysfunctional? Naturally there are men who were Brooks Brothers customers in the good ol’ days of the Ivy heyday through the late ’80s, and can quickly list everything they miss about the Brooks of yore. There are also younger menswear enthusiasts who comb through Internet archives, photographs, illustrated catalogues, and other evidence of this once beyond-reproach institution of American style and can’t help but agonize that we were born too late. (Continue)
It’s time for a check-in with Brooks as there are several pieces of news:
• Above is CEO Claudio del Vecchio speaking to Bloomberg News.
• Shirt fits now use the same names as in other categories.
• The company’s foray into the Australian market has had some bumps.
• Last Friday Brooks tweeted an in-house interview with its director of men’s design.
• Finally, according to the Chicago Tribune at least, a politician in a buttondown is news.
Tomorrow we’ll bring a new voice to Ivy Style with an essay on this greatest of American clothing institutions. — CC
Last week I tweeted a one-liner about wearing a polo shirt under my oxford on a day when I wanted an extra layer. I thought it would make for an interesting post, particularly with a vote. I mean, how many of you actually do that? Then sure enough yesterday a member of our Facebook group posted the photo above, and the matter is officially up for debate.
Your other traditional preppy option, as this 1982 photo shows, is a jersey turtleneck under an oxford:
The exposed white tee is another matter entirely.
So cast your ballot and let’s see how the numbers fall. — CC
Last week New York Magazine ran a piece on its website called “The Weird, Lovely World Of LL Bean Commenters.” The slideshow sampling of comments left on the company’s website (of which #14, my favorite, provided us with our headline), demonstrates a perfect storm of heritage brand with knowledgeable clientele, Internet-enabled peer reviews, and neurotic, finicky people with too much time on their hands. — CC
Last weekend was the Pop-Up Flea show, which has grown considerably. While mostly populated (yes, still) with a kind of hipster/workwear/urban lumberjack vibe, there were a few tradly items worth sharing. (Continue)