You know the “back to campus” theme Brooks Brothers has been using the past couple of seasons, with youthful models and even more youthful clothing? Perhaps it should be retitled “back to the drawing board.”
Old-school curmudgeons will quiver with schadenfreude at the latest news Ivy Style gleaned at 346 Madison Avenue.
According to a high-up Brooksian, the collegiate sportswear collection — specifically the logoed stuff — isn’t selling. The older customers either “don’t get it or it doesn’t fit,” said the source, and the merchandise is not attracting the younger consumer it was obviously targeting.
“There are others who do that better,” the employee admitted, adding that many in the design department lack the sensibility to appreciate the company’s unique place in the history of American apparel retailing.
On the brighter side, this week Brooks Brothers tapped into the made-in-America trend of the past few years by highlighting its domestic manufacturing in an email blast and on its home page. Smart move.
As for the overseas manufacturing, I mentioned recently that I’m currently romantically intertwined with a woman who represents the company that manufactures Brooks’ Chinese-made clothing. For those who consider China a dirty word, she recently pointed out to me during dinner (menswear, golf and jazz being our usual topics of mealtime chitchat), that although the factories are located in China, the equipment and management is Japanese.
That may be a worthwhile distinction for pragmatists, while idealists will surely counter that clothing from the most quintessential American brand shouldn’t be made anywhere but here. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD