Makers’ Mark: Brooks Brothers Fall 2009 Catalog

The new “Makers and Merchants” Brooks Brothers catalog hitting mailboxes this week is like a mini magazine that combines dressing advice with company history and brand positioning. Much seems to stem from a desire for Brooks to annouce its new domestic manufacturing program in the wake of the Southwick acquisition.

The catalog features two undarted, 3/2-roll suits and one sport coat. In one instance, the suit is paired with a spread-collar, French-cuffed, lavender-striped shirt and purple striped tie. Now these are probably not the typical furnishings that the small percentage of current Brooks customers seeking a 3/2 roll would likely wear with such a suit.

However, if looked at another way, from the point of view of the spread-collar, French-cuffed, lavender and purple customer, suggesting he consider an undarted 3/2 is a step towards making more of them available for those who prefer to compliment their sack suits with oxford-cloth buttondowns and traditional reps.

At several points the catalog mentions natural shoulders, calling them the distinguishing mark of a Brooks Brothers jacket. Yet most of the images seem to contradict this, most grotesquely in this image of Barack Obama from a section on Brooks’ long history of dressing presidents:

The most classic jacket in the catalog is the tweed sport coat in the top image, where Brooks really hits the mark with the shoulder line and patch pockets. It’s also one of the few outfits in the catalog that features a buttondown collar.

Finally, there’s one passage worth quoting for its debating points:

It’s as impossible to imagine Brooks Brothers without New York as it is to imagine New York without Brooks Brothers. This great center of business, hub of finance, and headquarters of some of the world’s most powerful and prominent publishing and media institutions is the birthplace, through Brooks Brothers, of countless style trends such as the “Ivy League Look” of the 1950s, and is the center of the life of a social aristoocracy for whom Brooks Brothers was, and is, the source of both the cutting edge and the classic.

The “Makers and Merchants” catalog is available online here. — CC

11 Comments on "Makers’ Mark: Brooks Brothers Fall 2009 Catalog"

  1. The Black Tie Guide has a special section on Obama in its “Red Carpet Black Tie” section for his attempts at black and white tie:

    On the whole, they were not impressed.

  2. Is that Obama picture from the inaugural? Looks like white tie to me; I thought that HSM had the dubious distinction of constructing that multi-button, notch lapel train wreck that stood an inch off of his neck…

  3. Thanks for posting this. I have seen the catalog, and its very nice. It’s mostly a marketing ploy as its heavy on claims and very light on details. Still, its lovely to look at and shows BB cares about its image as a purveyor of traditional, quality garments.

  4. Brooks certainly included the Obama photo in the catalog. Perhaps they didn’t make that particular outfit, but one would think they made sure to include a photo of him in which they know he’s wearing the brand.

  5. Laguna Beach Trad | September 3, 2009 at 1:57 pm |

    Great post, Christian. I like the BB catalog.

    I see nothing wrong, in formal business situations, with wearing a spread or forward point collar with a 3/2 roll suit. In the Fall/Winter Collection 2006 and Spring/Summer Collection 2007 catalogs, J.Press features several such combinations. Button-down shirts with a business suit? Not my cup o’ tea.

  6. Didn’t know they acquired Southwick. Exciting

  7. Andy,

    Obama is most definitely not wearing white tie in the photo here. White tie means not just a white bow tie, but also a white vest and black tailcoat, among other things. Here, he’s wearing a black jacket with notch lapels and flap pockets (so it’s not an actual dinner jacket), has no waist covering, and is committing a black tie faux pas: wearing a white tie. There are kids going to proms who look better than this.

    How sad that neither the POTUS nor anyone in his entourage knows what “black tie” means.

  8. The pics with four-in-hand ties on “tuxedos” are just awful.

  9. We may disagree elsewhere, Richard, but here we are singing the same tune: black tie means a black bow tie (except, of course, for that most rakish of black tie looks, the maroon tie & cummerbund, worn in the summer with a white dinner jacket).

  10. Henry: One thing has nothing to do with the other, my friend, and this IS a blog about IVY STYLE, n’est-ce pas? Bow ties or nothing!! No offense about the other stuff-we can agree to disagree-it’s a democracy. Have a good Labor Day Holiday.

  11. grammar is all over the place in the M&M though… the very first sentence, “that’s long been native turf… a welcome’s turn..” etc wtf???

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