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