News Roundup: Brooks Buyers, Gitman Factory Shutters, And Guys In Suits Playing Rock And Roll

Greetings to all, and I hope that your corner of Tradsville has emerged from lockdown and you’ve been able to don some madras and get outside. My first summer here in Newport is already magical. I’ve been surfing at dusk, swimming out to rocks perched in the ocean, and even had my first sail in one of those tiny little boats that barely fits two. Next up is jumping from the cliffs, and learning how to captain one of those little boats myself.

And then there’s stepping outside and seeing sunsets like this:

My canvas Sperry’s are perpetually wet and sandy, though not yet as soiled as Edward Gorey’s. ZG Burnett, who wrote our recent piece on the artist, visited Gorey’s museum house on Cape Cod right after the piece posted, and sent over the following photos, which include his signature sneakers, raccoon coat, and color version of that photo in the madras jacket:

And now getting you up to speed on the news. WWD/Yahoo! report that Brooks Brothers has brand management firms interested in acquiring it. Enjoy the delicious irony that the way to save the company is not by getting back to its roots, but by modernizing it further:

The prevailing wisdom, according to sources, is that Brooks Brothers will file for bankruptcy sometime next month. This would allow it to cut its debt, which is believed to be around $300 million, and shutter a large number of its 250 or so retail stores in the U.S.

“There’s a fircer battle going on,” said one source close to the negotiations who requested anonymity. “It’s a really active auction right now.” 

The leading contender to buy the business is Authentic Brands Group headed by Jamie Salter. But the aggressive licensing company has some major competition from Marquee Brands, WHP Global and even Sequential Brands. It is expected Brooks Brothers’ owner Claudio Del Vecchio would negotiate with one of these companies to be the stalking horse bidder in advance of a Chapter 11 filing.

“The Brooks Brothers brand is amazing,” a source close to the matter said. “It has more than 200 years of iconic heritage. Sure, it has to be shifted and adapted to modern times, but it’s an A-plus brand.” 

Read the story here.

And speaking of adapting to modern times, a reader tells me that customer service informed him that Brooks is phasing out its full-cut dress shirts, which used to be called Traditional and is now called Relaxed.

But it’s a modern world, according to this tune sent in by another reader under the subject heading “guys in suits playing rock and roll.” The suited guys are a Mod band from Portland called RAF:

Next up, Gitman is closing its Pennsylvania factory and moving production to Tennessee.

Another American factory is about to bite the dust.

The Gitman Bros. shirt manufacturing plant in Ashland, Pa., will close by the end of the summer as a result of the economic fallout from the coronavirus. However, production will remain in America and move to the company-owned Measure Up shirt facility in Lafayette, Tenn., according to Chris Olberding, president of Gitman and Gitman Vintage.

The company is offering the 90 workers in the Ashland factory the option to relocate to the Tennessee factory or one of its other two U.S. plants. Gitman is owned by the Tom James Company, which manufactures tailored clothing for English American in Westminster, Md., and Individualized Shirts in Perth Amboy, N.J.

And a longstanding and much-admired member of Tradsville, the man known as Heavy Tweed Jacket, has recently closed his Tumblr page, reportedly because he was unable to keep porn spam off the page, or something to that effect.

Wish there was better news, but these are tumultuous times. On the plus side, here’s a reminder check out Richard Press’ regular column for J. Press. The grandson of founder Jacobi has also been making videos for J. Press’ Instagram page. We must all balance preserving tradition with adaptation. — CC

17 Comments on "News Roundup: Brooks Buyers, Gitman Factory Shutters, And Guys In Suits Playing Rock And Roll"

  1. Not “Brooks Brothers”, but “the Brooks Brothers brand”. Pretty much says it all: just get the name to get the traffic in.

  2. Charlottesville | June 18, 2020 at 4:28 pm |

    Sad update on Brooks, but not surprising. I wish I could buy the “brand” and the 44th St. flagship, but frankly I can barely afford to buy their shirts any more. I hope someone will find value in keeping Southwick and Garland alive.

    On a happier note, I really like Mr. Gorey’s madras sport coat. The subdued blues and grays are very appealing.

  3. Agree with Charlottesville, that is a beautiful madras jacket.

  4. whiskeydent | June 18, 2020 at 4:50 pm |

    I wonder if RL is considering picking up the BB factories for cheap.

  5. Anonymous | June 18, 2020 at 5:52 pm |

    I have commented previously on how disappointed I am to see these factories close, and I don’t feel any better about it today. It is hard, however, to describe how sad I am that HTJ has gone dark. He got it better than any other blogger or poster. But he never looked put on, or like he was trying too hard. I sought him out every day. Just a fun thing to do. To whomever is responsible for causing him to shut down: You ruined something good. I hope you are proud. HTJ will be missed. I hope he finds a way to return. If any readers come across him, please let the rest of us know.

  6. Brooks Brothers could’ve become an amazing niche brand with only a few physical stores, selling all the old school American classics, plus some new stuff in a more adventurous Italian style that’s become so popular among those in the “menswear community”. But unfortunately, whatever BB sells and presents these days looks cheap and uninspiring. I still buy their Red Fleece ties, which, indeed, are amazing (narrower, shorter, with a thinner interlining, and really inexpensive, while still made in USA). Their “original” (made in USA) OCBD’s are fantastic, when offered at a discount for around $80. That being said, Spier and Mackay offers shirts of quite comparable style and quality for under $50. However, those are made somewhere in Asia, I believe, which in no way suggests that the quality is, somehow, negatively affected by the Asian production location. Peal and company shoes are also very beautiful. And that is, pretty much, it. Can’t think of much else that I’d be tempted to buy at BB these days.

  7. Brooks an similar stores need to update their fare, offering “dress” T shirts, and ripped up blue jeans.

    I’m afraid, dressing nice IS the above.

    The quarantine, work at home, pajamas all day, etc. dealt the death blow to what started in 1967.

  8. I’ve never posted a comment before, but have been surprised that there has been no mention of this almost literally unbelievable story which involves Alden. As if American heritage brands needed any more problems. Thank you, Christian.

    https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/06/15/business/alden-shoe-company-sues-bianca-de-la-garza-15-million/?p1=HP_Feed_ContentQuery

  9. Lucky Gal indeed.

  10. Men’s tailored clothing sales have declined every year since 1985.
    Brooks does 20% of sales in tailored clothing.
    Tailored Brands may be closing the Joseph Abboud factory in Mass.

  11. A big scoop in tradsville vis a vis Hickey Freeman.

    I rest in the assurance CC will stumble upon it soon.

  12. john carlos | June 19, 2020 at 7:37 pm |

    Charlie- Wow! That’s a lot of shell cordovans.

  13. NaturalShoulder | June 19, 2020 at 10:04 pm |

    I am saddened to hear the news about HTJ. His old blog was a fantastic mix of old BB and Press catalogues, thoughtful posts, and pictures. After blog shut down he still posted pictures on Tumblr but that has now come to an end.

  14. john carlos | June 19, 2020 at 10:52 pm |

    NaturalShoulder- fill me in about HTJ.

  15. Andrew K. | June 20, 2020 at 3:44 am |

    I’m guessing Spier & McKay is manufactured in India, as the owners have close connections there. I bought a couple of polos from them that were nice.

  16. I had thought that Heavy Tweed Jacket closed his Tumblr account years ago. He certainly stopped posting on Tumblr for a long time. I gave up on anti-social media many years ago. There are too many poseurs, phoneys, frauds, scammers and spammers. I would not want to deal with Farcebook and Tw*tter’s trolls and those site’s Orwellian thought police. My life is simpler, my privacy is protected and I feel liberated.

  17. NaturalShoulder | June 20, 2020 at 9:20 pm |

    John Carlos – I had been following HTJ on Tumlr where he mostly posts pictures of what he is wearing. Apparently his comments section became filled with spam posts featuring pornography. He commented on it more than once and I guess he had enough and shut down his account.

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