News Roundup: Brooks Bid, Gitman Shirts, Loafers And Lockdown

Remember how in the ’80s Brooks Brothers was bought by a department store company, beginning its decades of downfall? Well the new owners could be even more odious: a shopping mall company.

Reported yesterday and updated this morning, CNBC writes:

A company known as Sparc LLC, which is comprised of the U.S. mall owner Simon Property Group and the apparel-licensing firm Authentic Brands Group, is making a $305 million bid for bankrupt Brooks Brothers, a court filing said Thursday.

The offer, still subject to better and higher bids and court approval, is to keep at least 125 of Brooks Brothers’ stores open for business, the filing said.

A court hearing to approve the bid has been set for Aug. 3, while other competing offers are due by Aug. 5, according to the filing. A hearing to approve the final sale of Brooks Brothers’ assets is set to take place Aug. 11.

WHP Global, a rival to ABG, is also preparing a bid for Brooks Brothers, the company told CNBC.

“It’s early innings in the Brooks Brothers bankruptcy sale process,” WHP Chairman and CEO Yehuda Shmidman said in a statement. “We are big believers in the power of the Brooks Brothers brand, the global footprint and the management team.”

Moving on with our latest news update, and also in the category of gloomy tales of once-great American brands, occcasional Ivy Style contributor Eric Twardzik has done a requiem for Inside Hook on the closing of the Gitman shirt factory, writing:

As someone who’s greatly interested in menswear and occasionally writes about the subject, the existence of a storied menswear brand beloved by old-school trads and online hype beasts alike in my own backyard was a source of pride, a quasi-secret I relished in delivering. But the factory was more than a conversational ice-breaker: it featured an actual factory outlet store, where OCBDs made for The Andover Shop or the wildest of Gitman Vintage prints could be picked up for a song. It was the first place my brothers and I would visit when returning home for the holidays and proved a reliable draw for out-of-town friends.

But above all, it was a reminder of the hard-working spirit of Schuylkill County, a place built by largely Irish, Italian and Eastern European immigrants who arrived at the turn of the 20th century to work in the coal mines, and whose children went on to cut and sew at the scores of garment factories that once dotted the area.

Also at Inside Hook, though not by Twardzik (obviously), is a case for wearing athletic shorts with loafers:


There’s an old saying that goes “Don’t try this at home.” But in this case, if you’re going to try this it should probably be at home.

Speaking of home, you’re likely either still under semi-lockdown, or are thinking it might be time to move your home to somewhere remote in order to get away from all the chaos. The North and South Poles are looking rather attractive. My latest essay for San Francisco’s Nob Hill Gazette, entitled “The Eternal Return,” explores the concept of home as a state of mind more than a location, and what normal life might look like, assuming we ever get back to one. Here’s a snippet:

As we consider what life was like before all this happened, certain puzzle pieces don’t seem to fit the big picture anymore. Will we see our technological inventions with cold fresh eyes, as mere tools rather than ends in themselves, as we focus on mindfulness and genuine human connections? Or will the experience of solitary confinement and social distancing hasten our transformation into atomized, emotionless cyborgs who can’t experience a spontaneous life moment unless it’s mediated through a smartphone camera?

It certainly feels like we’ve stepped out of lockdown only to find ourselves at a fork in the road. And like every other crossroads, the right path for another may not be the right path for you. Some will be ready to “turn on, tune in and drop out,” as they said in the ’60s, while others will be even more eager for brain chip implants. It’ll be bot-people versus spiritualists in a showdown of San Francisco’s two great social experiment legacies from the past half-century: hippies and techies.

Enjoy madras and boat shoe season while you can. Tempus fugit. — CC

25 Comments on "News Roundup: Brooks Bid, Gitman Shirts, Loafers And Lockdown"

  1. elder prep | July 24, 2020 at 12:57 pm |

    Gym shorts and our beloved Weejun’s. Together. Really? Ludicrous!

  2. American-Preppy | July 24, 2020 at 1:53 pm |

    Well in defense of the athletic shorts/loafer combo, as a younger kid I need to admit I do it rather often. It just WORKS! It’s easy which is why it fits in great. We all need to remember that Ivy Style was a bit rebellious back in the heyday and the look probably happened on campus quite a bit as much as we do not want to admit it.

    I mean imagine lounging around at home and popping over to the pub for a drink with friends. Completing a strenuous workout routine, taking a dip in the pool, then grabbing your leather weekender bag, lazily throwing on your loafers, and leaving the locking room. I can imagine it because I do it!

    I mean it definitely helps making sure the athletic gear is traditional looking which SOME companies such as Tracksmith does a fine job of. There is such a thing as nice look athletic gear. Another thing I need to admit no offense is that it is not a look for gentleman in their late 30s and beyond.

  3. Brad Ewin | July 24, 2020 at 1:54 pm |

    @elder prep – I politely disagree! As is often the case, I think those who are young or in good shape (especially both) are going to be given more leeway by others to pull this look off. But I wouldn’t say it’s a no-go. It’s a fun and relevant refresh of a retro look.

    As an alternative to the navy sweater (and yes, that Harrison Ford getup is very cool) – if it’s, say, a little too warm – a plain white tee or polo would pair brilliantly. Leaning further into the athletic apparel (a la a college athletic tee) or trying to pile on a staple OCBD would bring down the look in my view.

    But hey, it’s all just clothes. If you like ’em, wear ’em. If not, no problema. ?

  4. Charlottesville | July 24, 2020 at 2:09 pm |

    It seems that the news is almost always sad these days (or in the case of athletic shorts with Weejuns, merely silly). Sorry that Gitman is gone, and it doesn’t look like Southwick and Garland are going to make it past the BB sale, but I suppose there is still a chance.

    Ah, well; let’s be thankful for what we have. I bought my first new suit in years from J. Press earlier today, and encourage others to do the same, or if not a suit, perhaps a sport coat or tie or shirt. Their summer sale has a lot of great items at good prices, and those of us who still care should support the handful of terrific traditional companies that remain, at least to the extent that we can afford to in these trying times. Stop by the shop if you are in NY, New Haven or DC, or go to the website if you are farther afield.

  5. “Tune in, turn on, and drop out” is a phrase coined by Timothy Leary. He advocated using hallucinogenic drugs (i.e. LSD) to reach higher states of consciousness.

  6. Robert Morris | July 24, 2020 at 2:29 pm |

    I have started to shop at J Press and have very pleased with my purchases, all done on the web. I live in Pittsburgh

  7. john carlos | July 24, 2020 at 2:36 pm |

    I am wearing a Gitman madras, khakis, and boat shoes for casual Friday. Trying to support the cause.

  8. Great article, Eric.

  9. Hardbopper | July 24, 2020 at 3:40 pm |

    Years ago, an “I’m too hung over to find my pants, and the dining hall closes in five minutes” episode became a defining moment. Life’s funny that way.

  10. Eric Twardzik’s article is great; I really appreciate it being shared here, and I relate to his feelings evoked through his writing. It was nice to learn he was a fellow native son of Pennsylvania as well.

    The article by Ms. Cutlip is awful. In addition to being poorly written, the advice is just plain bad. What I find particularly grating is that it’s an article written by a 23-year-old woman aimed at giving fashion advice to grown men. Women (correctly) eschew fashion advice aimed at them by men, who have no business telling women what to wear. And yet, our society at-large doesn’t think twice about women giving men fashion advice, even when it’s so painfully obvious (as it is in this article) that the author in question has absolutely no idea about how men should be dressed in the first place. I hope we’re spared from receiving any further *advice* from Ms. Cutlip; however, judging by the quality of her writing, I don’t think we’re going to see too much more published by this callow author.

  11. Charlottesville | July 24, 2020 at 4:48 pm |

    Also, as noted by RWK and Rake, great article Eric. Thanks, Christian, for posting the link.

  12. Too Much Johnson | July 24, 2020 at 5:24 pm |

    @ American-Preppy & @ Brad Ewin – Just because the worst outfit I ever wore in public (to my final “final” 30-ish years ago) was a navy blazer (it was a cold morning and I was – ahem – fatigued) paired with a white OCBD over woodland BDU utilities and boat shoes doesn’t mean that anyone else should – are you listening Uncle Ralph?

    @ RWK – “Women (correctly) eschew fashion advice aimed at them by men, who have no business telling women what to wear.”

    Why not? If female designers and fashion consultants can seek to feminize menswear why can’t men seek to feminize female fashion and style? Turnabout is fair-play, what is good for the goose is good for the gander, and all that jive.

    In fact, it worked out very nicely for the likes of Yves Saint Laurent, Thierry Mugler, Karl Lagerfeld, etc., etc., and – by extension – a lot of us as well…

  13. Christian, I really appreciate your thoughts on whether the lifestyle changes being thrust upon us will stick or whether we will shed them. I suspect that Americans will be more resistant to basic behavioral changes than many think. Crowding in a pub, yelling at a college football game, and shopping elbow-to-elbow at a brick-and-mortar retailer are fast becoming bittersweet memories for many, many people. So, instead of feeling like stubborn curmudgeons when they yearn for the halcyon days back in February 2020, they may insist that they want all of those things back. Chop Chop. In which case, the next catch phrase might not be “The New Normal” but “We’re ALL trads now.”

  14. Every lawyer, doctor and Protestant clergyman in my community who’s back in action…is back to wearing jacket and tie, frequently a suit. The professions will always demand proper dress. Out on the golf course, which is packed, lots of collared polo shirts and shorts and saddle oxford, just like before.

    Not much has changed in my (admittedly small) world.

    The preppy look, complete with striped ties and button downs and loafers, will survive and thrive — in all of the expected places.

  15. some shirt factories fade; others thrive.

  16. At the moment, I’m wearing maroon Patagonia baggies shorts and a light blue BB OCBD with my brown Ferragamo penny loafers – a combination that works exceedingly well. A great look for around the house. I wouldn’t leave the house with this outfit.

    As far as change in dress is concerned – the world will continue to become increasingly casual driven by a younger generation that dresses differently from us.

    I’m currently experimenting with sneakers in the context of casual business – I recently purchased a pair of dark brown suede sneakers from Allen Edmonds.

  17. Old School Tie | July 25, 2020 at 6:46 am |

    Just bought a nice Gitman a few weeks ago. Gone, you say…? Oh dear…

  18. Too Much Johnson | July 25, 2020 at 8:22 am |

    @ Bill – Of course it will (that ship sailed long ago) and that they will is almost a given. However, the fact remains that there is a real difference between change/evolution/transformation on the one hand and change/decay/entropy on the other. The great, post-modern running-down has now fully arrived with modern art having led the way for over a century now.

    Fundamentally, if all aesthetics are equally valid, equally good, and equally beautiful what is the point of holding onto any one discrete notion of civilization or culture?

    I would argue that there isn’t any…

  19. Michael Skrzypiec | July 25, 2020 at 10:00 am |

    For those of you who have the CNNgo app, I just caught a 4 part series called ‘American Style’. A pretty interesting look at both men’s and women’s fashion from the ’40s to early 2000s. Lisa Birnbach extolled her preppy inclinations while Alan Flusser talked about dressing Michael Douglas for “Wall Street”, basically a copy of what Flusser wore on a daily basis.

  20. PocketSquare | July 25, 2020 at 11:25 am |

    Gitman won’t be sacrificing their quality by closing the Ashland factory. Ashland will be losing their factory in what is a run down factory town. It’s not an unfamiliar story anymore. Which doesn’t make it any less sad. If you live in Ashland and this is your chance to move, Please Do SO! Find better opportunity and move on from the past. Been to Ashland many times. I own hundreds of Gitman shirts. IAG (pitmans parent company) knows what’s smart for their business. I really doubt they ever cared much for Ashland.

  21. PocketSquare | July 25, 2020 at 2:29 pm |

    *IAG(Gitmans’ parent company)

  22. Robert Staehling | July 25, 2020 at 3:10 pm |

    While I wouldn’t wear weejuns+gym shorts personally, the same reaction was probably given to folks wearing sweatshirts and OCBDs, and yet it’s quite established now

  23. While disappointed that Brooks Brothers may be in for another poorly developed post-integration strategy, I am more disheartened to hear of Gitman’s PA factory closure – and that other east coast factories are likely to close as well.

    I lament the loss of jobs though I recognize has challenging it must be for those businesses to maintain profitability while producing domestically. I strive to buy American made whenever possible and I accept the (generally) higher prices trading volume for quality; since fully committing to Made in the USA off-the-rack or made-to-measure a decade ago, I have greatly reduced the number of purchases made each year. While that helps me, it doesn’t help the manufacturers or retailers who need constant cashflow to stay open.

    I also wonder what this means for some retailers whose products are made by Gitman or their counterparts. J. Press, O’Connell’s, Ben Silver, et al use the smaller factories for their Made in the USA products. Closings threaten those retailers whose brands depend on adhering to certain style elements to maintain their unique appeal. Though I recognize Gitman’s production isn’t going away, the move reminds us that domestic production – and what I/we value – is in serious peril.

  24. PocketSquare | July 28, 2020 at 10:38 am |

    Gitman will continue to manufacture in the USA. The Ashland factory was only used to produce their shrinking IN STOCk program. I believe all special orders and probably small retailers upfront orders were already being produce at their sister factory. Sad for Ashland but shouldn’t stop the brands quality or production. It might help lower prices? Less driving product to and from Ashland on back roads to Interstate 80 might be a good thing overall. Not sure, but maybe?

  25. Gitman’s production is moving to Lafayette, Tennessee.
    The new shirts will be made at Measure Up.
    I’ve actually been in this factory & have worn their shirts for 2 decades.
    These shirts are going to be amazing & Gitman fans will appreciate the quality!

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