Fall Forward: New Items From Brooks Brothers Red Fleece

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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.

This Shetland sweater is just $98 (though for that price, obviously not made in Scotland):

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I like the idea of these “Donegal Tweed Chinos” as casual fall pants, but few things are more awkward to wear than pants with a low rise. I’ve noted here before — and it’s discussed regularly on the Talk Ivy forum — that in general you can get a full rise or tapered leg but you can’t get both:

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 Among the more quirky items in the collection are this tie with a trompe l’oeil tie bar:

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This shirt combines Fair Isle with a ’70s surfer vibe:

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 As for jacket lengths, the rule of thumb continues to be “forget the thumb rule.” Jackets are merely supposed to reach your watch:

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And finally, we recently shared Brooks’ (and Squeeze’s, for that matter) hoodie-sportcoat hybrids. Here’s something similar, a peacoat made of cotton and “polyamide shell” that comes with both buttons and  a zipper for tradition and twist all in one. — CC

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34 Comments on "Fall Forward: New Items From Brooks Brothers Red Fleece"

  1. Those pants don’t look low rise. At least in comparison to the Milanos. The jacket is embarrassingly short. And the biker/peacoat is just embarrassing.

  2. Christian | July 15, 2014 at 1:10 pm |

    Hard to judge the pants from the photo, but they are from the Red Fleece collection and are described as slim fit, two reasons to believe the rise is lower than traditional. But I will be sure to try them on in the store.

  3. The robot tie is interesting….but I assume it’s under 3 inches wide, yes? I’ll take bland over most of this silliness….

  4. I’ve got motorcycle jackets longer than those coats.

  5. Actually that Shetland is the only thing I saw on the fall Red Fleece line that looked appealing precisely because of its blandness. With a saddle shoulder, no less! A bit curious about where they’re made, though…

  6. Christian | July 15, 2014 at 2:16 pm |

    I wouldn’t call the Shetland bland. There’s taste and tradition in the fabric and styling. It’s a classic.

    Bland is the black zippered sweater vest, plus hundreds of other shirts, sweaters, ties, etc. that have nothing “Brooksy” about them except the label, and look like they could be found at any generic men’s clothing retailer.

  7. The Shetlands are actually very good. Excellent fit, great colours and quality yarn. Made in China, obviously, but I’m not sure why that should matter. The rest shown here are cack.

  8. I saw the new suit styles yesterday on the website. Utterly ridiculous looking. The old B Squared 346 suit was the backbone of my business wardrobe in the 1980s & 1990s. Now I have to buy J. Press, often vintage J. Press!

  9. Ooo! Robots! Very detailed.

  10. Vern Trotter | July 15, 2014 at 6:11 pm |

    Everything is just dreadful, especially the shirts. Thankfully, we now have Mr. Mercer.

  11. I haven’t tried on those exact trousers but I was at the Brooks store today and tried on a different pair of Red Fleece pants. The rise felt more or less the same as my Clark chinos, as a point of reference (but a much more tapered leg). Not sure how consistent the fit is across the Red Fleece board.

    That peacoat makes me want to cry.

  12. The guy who buys this peacoat is the same guy who wears a belt with braces. The more going on the better? Zippers, buttons, double breasted, eight buttons…

  13. Bernard Faber | July 16, 2014 at 12:51 am |

    TRIVIA AGAIN TRVIA What is there to life when the focus is on tiny shit.
    I bet most of you are beyond college but not beyond mama and dad. Unbelievable- what a pedigre! The internet is the worst invention in the world allowing such total banality. Why don’t you guys have an annual convention and spare the net.

  14. J.I. Rodale | July 16, 2014 at 5:25 am |

    If this stuff is Ivy, I’m going to start using the term “Trad” to dissociate myself from it.

  15. Waldo Walters | July 16, 2014 at 9:06 am |

    I figure the short jackets will disappear soon when 1990s oversize makes a comeback in streetwear. And then we’ll see voluminous mid-thigh-length Harrington and varsity jackets.

  16. Bernard Faber – Thank you for your glorious insight.

  17. Christian constantly fails to mention the sensible (and stodgy old trad approved) basics that come with each new season of Red Fleece. I, as a college student, seriously struggle to find decent clothing outside of J.Crew and Bean with a reasonable price, fit, and durability. When Red Fleece came on to the scene, however, it made Brooks more affordable and less likely to make me look entirely out of place. There are OCBDs with decent collars, basic chinos/cords/flannels, and plenty of casual shirts for guys in college who want to dress sensibly. Yes…there are peacoats that look like the Ovadias dreamt them up. But all in all, for the frugal college man, there are some diamonds in the rough in every Red Fleece season. The same could not be said for York Street/Gant.

  18. BB’s are true masters of “when it ain’t broke, fix it anyway”.
    They have become a joke and should move their corporate headquarters to Milan, where their clothes will fit in with every new fashion trend.

  19. That last guy looks like he’s in a futuristic production of Les Miz

  20. That Shetland is appealing. I went to the BB site to check it out. What struck me is that both the grey and light blue Shetland have logos, but I can’t see a logo on the navy Shetland. Which leaves me wondering, “Does it not have a logo or can I just not see it?”

    Logos are what killed the mainline Shetlands for me last year.

  21. Tom Conroy | July 16, 2014 at 9:12 pm |

    I don’t understand why someplace in Michigan call sell Harley made in Scotland Shetland sweaters at an affordable price and no one else can.

  22. Luckily some of us are a little doughy in the midsection so buying Red Fleece is quite out of the question.

  23. Hmm…ghurka shorts on sale, what they call “Garment-Dyed Belted Shorts.” They look low rise and slim fit, though. =(

  24. Boston Bean | July 16, 2014 at 11:01 pm |

    @J.I. Rodale

    Quite a good suggestion, sir.
    If these items are ivy, the label “ivy” seems to encompass such a wide spectrum that it is nearly meaningless.
    “Trad” seems to exclude anything garish.

  25. Most of the time I don’t like to bother distinguishing between “Ivy” and “Trad” (and “Preppy” for that matter, though it’s the most easily distinguished of the three) because to 99% of the population, they all mean the same thing, if anything at all. #Menswear adherents refer to damn near everything as preppy: “These skinny fit jeans paired with a black varsity jacket are a preppy update on the blah blah blah…” But I digress.

    On the occasion I distinguish these terms for the sake of discussion, I consider Trad the most open-ended of the terms. My favorite way to separate the three terms is by age: when we are young, we dress in a preppy style; when we are at university, we dress (of course) in the Ivy style; and when we are adults making our way in the professional realm, we dress “Trad.” Many elements carry up to the next tier, but not the other way around. (I wouldn’t expect a fifteen year-old to be dressing in a tweed three-piece suit, for example.)

    By this logic, which I admit is not necessarily the same thought process as anyone else, using “Trad” as a way to distance oneself from “Ivy” is pointless. Many of these Red Fleece offerings are just poorly-conceived attempts at designing clothing for young men inspired by the clothing of older gentlemen, regardless of what word we use to describe it.

    For the record, it doesn’t seem that BB is even describing this collection as “Ivy” (not that they describe any of their products as Ivy) so the only comparison to Ivy Style is the one we are making ourselves (of course, our categorization is largely due to BB’s heritage). And I really don’t see any reason to call it even a failed attempt at Ivy. Peacoats aren’t inherently Ivy, and most of the rest of the items are vague and ubiquitous enough (like the polo shirt) to not have any Ivy connotations. In fact, the only truly “Ivy”-inspired items in this list seem to be the wool trousers and the Shetland sweater which- with the exception of their trim silhouettes- are the least offensive of the bunch by a long shot.

  26. @ CeeEm.

    If you’re not sure why that should matter, may I suggest it matters because you can still purchase comparably-priced Shetland wool sweaters straight from the sheep’s back in Shetland.

  27. @Ickenham
    Thanks! Link?

  28. J.I. Rodale | July 19, 2014 at 11:05 pm |

    @Joey

    I don’t find using the term “Trad” to be pointless at all.
    It helps me to distance myself from sartorial atrocities.

  29. @ CeeEm.

    Try shetlandknitwear.com and scotweb.co.uk for something similar to the sweater above.

  30. @Ickenham
    Appreciated, thank you.

  31. @CeeEm.

    My pleasure.

  32. @J.I. Rodale

    I understand the use of “Trad” as a means to distance oneself from the modern (feminine) fashions in men’s clothing today, but in the context of my response, I meant to convey I see little point in saying “Trad” to distance oneself from “Ivy.” I could pick a few nits to find the minute functional differences between Trad and Ivy but I think they are similar enough that anyone identifying with either will likely be considered with both.

    Garish offerings like most of the above selections are not Ivy, and as such I see no need to verbally distance oneself from them by calling oneself “Trad” rather than “Ivy.”

    But of course, as I mentioned, one’s mileage may vary. There aren’t specific definitions of these terms universally accepted enough to really allow arguments on their implementation. I’m merely sharing my point of view. And really, I do admit there are some keen differences between “Trad” and “Ivy” but I don’t think these fashion-forward items fit into either camp.

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