Brooks Brothers showed its Spring 2020 collection recently. Exactly when or where I don’t know, since they no longer invite Ivy Style. I could blame that on the commentariat cranks, but no, it’s firmly on me.
WWD reported about it on Tuesday, writing:
The 201-year-old brand updated many of its staple pieces — dress shirts, polos, suits and pants — with performance attributes for spring, answering the call of men for comfort and flexibility in their business and casual wardrobes.
“Customers are looking for performance clothing — lighter weights, stretch, breathability — but they don’t necessarily want to trade comfort for style,” said chief merchandising officer Lou Amendola. “We are contrasting traditional Brooks Brothers styling with innovative materials and finishes.” That includes an update of the brand’s signature button-down collar shirt, invented in 1900, with a fabric that blends Coolmax and Supima for moisture-wicking and breathability, as well as five-pocket tech trousers.
There are only eight slides that accompany the report. The outfit below features the only 3/2 roll jacket, but button stance doesn’t mean much in an outfit of such questionable taste. He looks like he lives in a gender-neutral society of the near future and is on his way to work at IBM to build robots to replace humans, and if humans are going to dress like that, then I don’t blame him.
Japan Today, meanwhile, posted a lengthy article today on Kamakura Shirts, whose founder, Yoshio Saddasue, is pictured at top.
Customers liked the elegance of Ivy League design, and they wanted shirts that fit well and were made of high quality fabric. But they also wanted good value for their money. Yoshio’s basic philosophy was that a person may choose to wear the same suit for several days running, but in that case needs to be sure that their shirt (and tie or other neckwear) changes daily and always forms a positive impression.
Finally, Luxury London recently ran piece called “The Enduring Appeal of Gant & Ivy League University Fashion.” It opens with:
From the withered tree, a flower blooms; a saying that aptly sums up America’s situation following the Second World War. Eisenhower was presiding over economic growth, Presley’s gyrating hips made women swoon and Rosa Parks would ignore orders to relinquish her bus seat. As the Second World War ended and American soldiers returned home, the country went through a period of rapid change. New tastes and influences in sport and fashion spread across the nation. Radio, TV and magazines introduced people to an active lifestyle they had never dreamed existed.
Since sports activities influenced many creative tailoring features, the demand for a comfortable look continued to spread. The rigid hierarchical looks of the past were now being playfully reworked through youth culture. Ivy League universities became hot-beds of academia, exploration and fashion. The term Ivy League was first used in the 1930s to refer to a group of northeastern American colleges that were sporting rivals. It soon became synonymous with more than just sports, denoting academic excellence, prestige, tradition, while creating a new and relaxed style of fashion that rippled across the country.
Included in the article is this fine piece of collegiate eye candy from Gant. It’s been viewed nearly 6 million times, a sign of Ivy’s enduring appeal indeed. — CC
Christian, consider yourself blessed that you are no longer invited to BB’s corporate propaganda events. It’s wise of you to eschew the putrid claptrap that they espouse.
Androgynous, slouchy, cheap-looking polyester blend clothing so boring and undignified that homeless guys would pass on it at the Goodwill.
Brooks: what were you thinking? You abandoned your core customers and now you’re targeting Millenials with athleisure-inspired dowdy getups that are just laughable.
Choose one: comfort or style. You can’t have your cake, and eat it too. Business suits aren’t Adidas track suits, and vice-versa.
Mitchell, you right on target. How much tradition is BB willing to dispose of to attract new business and lose their soul in the bargain. At this rate will they make it to the mid-century mark.
BB ain’t what it used to be and, after 40 years, I’m no longer a customer.
Low rise, check!
Short jackets, check!
Flash that ass and junk, check!
Doesn’t BB know that’s what 501s are for? 😉
“He looks like he lives in a gender-neutral society of the near future” – how so? This is a confusing comment.
The Ashe and Kamakura posts must not have gotten as many clicks – a rehash of the death of Brooks Brothers in the comment section should give you an uptick in ad revenue…
AOC would love that outfit, although it could possibly be rescued by a MAGA cap. The navy variant, obviously. The first picture just reminds me of a child size outfit for some reason. Proportions maybe…
Well that was fun 5 min spent…Unfortunately I tried to click on the Brooks slides and the link took me to a low rent Italian fashion store (like a really shit Boggi ) All the fits are off., not one jacket or suit fits the way it should and now apparently BB are selling hoodies?? I will not comment on the so called demise of BB and the ever present wailing from the Ivy community about how they let their core customer down…Please , for the last time…Brooks has not been the same since the Marks & Spencer era and will NEVER be that again.They will not go back to start making the mythical number one sack suit, their shirts are now made in Malaysia and the Italian owners could not give a flying fuck about the heritage.Okay, okay?!
It does seem that some commenters here are a bit (a bit?) too harsh on BB. While I agree that a lot of their stuff looks cheap, the fits are off, the synthetic fabrics blends are horrible, etc… they still DO carry some great stuff. The affordable, made in USA “Red fleece” ties are fantastic (slim, self-tipped, with a very thin lining), their Peal shoes are excellent, and their dress shirts are very well made and offered in various fits. Their USA-made ocbd’s ARE some of the best on the market — great fabric, unlined collar, mop buttons, no pocket. Finally, BB are (probably) the only American company that still sells white tie accessories. All that being said, yes, they are going in the wrong direction (according to our aesthetic principles that they clearly don’t care about). They’re a huge business and have no goal to become a niche company like J. Press.
The photo of Saddasue-san reminds me of what BB once was.
Striped shirt, diagonally striped tie, and a not-so-muted plaid suit? Gak! Short length with a 3/2 roll? Stupid!
They lost me at “five pocket tech trousers”.
Although I do have some sympathy for BB in the way I would for any other clothing retailer: they’ve got to sell things that people want to buy, and what people want to buy changes & that’s difficult to navigate. Our little group bemoans when an oldie like BB tries to follow some of those changes (in order to keep the doors open). But let’s also be honest: if they suddenly went to carrying exclusively the good, old stuff that we like, and every single one of us bought exclusively from them, they’d still fold the tent by year-end; there simply aren’t enough of us. *We* look at that as a shame, of course (the death of the style we enjoy; probably not the closing of the doors!). But ultimately it’s not a good or a bad thing; it simply is.
It’s easy to bash BB. They still offer solid essentials (USA oxford) and good service. But the mkt is changing and Claudio D. is not a traditional BB guy. He’s a business guy trying to improve company value through ‘consultants’ ‘research’ etc. It’s a shame in many respects b/c they are private and don’t answer to Wall St. However, that leaves the door open for companies like Mercer (OCBDs), Kamukara, Sid Mashburn to fill the void. btw, I still think Polo generally succeeds with RL’s influence, — great style sense at the top is what BB is missing.
Do “they” intentionally market men’s clothing by using models wearing undersized garments? I think they do. Why? In order to make them look taller, more muscular, and so the potential buyer thinks, “hey, that can be me.” We know that this is the purpose of the ‘high and tight’ jackets.
Well you can get their ocbd @ 50% off (4 or more. Go halvsies with a friend) + discounted online gift card = approx $55
The general consensus on this site over RL seems to be that everything shownin the ads and runway is ridiculous, but walk into a flagship to look at the “real clothes” and you’ll still find some gold.
I’m surprised the same attitude isn’t taken on Brooks. There’s always going to be classic things you can buy there regardless of whether they’re featured in a fashion show or not. On the flip side, if they’re going to “update” anything, they should really re-adopt the soft-shoulder which not only appeals to our group, but happens to be in vogue right now everywhere else, re: RL, Cucinelli, Suit Supply, etc etc
PW Herman Collection.
@Paul I completely agree with your sentiment, they are trying to stay afloat in this supersaturated sea of online menswear retailers. Some of their bigger shops are tastefully outfitted but they are on it’s last leg I’m afraid especially as the quality of some of their clothes does not match the relative high price.
Mr. Saddasue looks great and the Kamakura OCBD looks like a very good product at a fair price, but they do not offer the right combination of collar size and sleeve length for me. I note that Ratio provides an excellent OCBD with an unlined collar for $98, and the fit is almost infinitely customizable.
I was pleased to see a Virginia Cavaliers pennant in the first photo accompanying the Luxury London story, but wonder about the color combination. Blue and orange have been the official colors since 1888, and before that they were red and silver. Not sure where burgundy and gold came from.
elder prep – “How much tradition is BB willing to dispose of to attract new business … ?” All of it, apparently. However, Paul is right, and I’m obviously not their target customer. Nevertheless, pandering to flash-in-the-pan contemporary fashion trends at hundreds of shops has made Brooks just another mall brand, like Gap, Banana Republic or a more expensive Jos. A. Bank. It may succeed as a business model, or it may not, but they have a lot of bricks and mortar to pay for and a lot of mouths to feed.
Fortunately there are alternatives for the rest of us, like J. Press, O’Connell’s, Ben Silver, the recently revitalized Andover Shop and various other local spots such as Eljo’s here in my town. Or for some of us, our own closets. I’m wearing a blue and white cotton pin-cord 3/2 sack sport coat, white tab collar shirt, repp tie and argyle socks today, all from Brooks. Their old stuff holds up remarkably well.
IT – You raise a good point about white tie accessories and few other items. I recently bought some socks at Brooks. However, did I read correctly that the new OCBDs will be a cotton-blend stretch fabric? Good grief.
Gant is a Swedish-owned brand that makes nearly all its merchandise in China. Like Polo Ralph Lauren, it’s now an over-priced cosplay con. They target insecure wannabes who think that the phony pony or shield somehow gives them class or credibility.
BB–What a bunch of hideous crap. Seriously. Ditto for Gant.
Buy great American clothes made by Americans. The good stuff. Wear and repair–as it wrinkles, creases, and/or frays.
Let your Fogey flag fly, gents. Remember the Langrock ad.
Speaking of … what’s become of the Millennial Fogey? Haven’t seen any musings from him in awhile…
I strongly agree with Benjamin. To quote the great Paul McCartney: “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Instead of nit-picking the outfits they show on their website, stop into a store. Sometimes the commentators make it seem like walking into a Brooks Brothers these days feels like walking into an Express store when it could not be further from the truth.
Also, that “gender-neutral” bit was some really nice virtue signaling 😉
You can get the real-deal BB OCBD for $70 right now (dress shirts 50% off if you buy four), and free shipping till June 9th on any order. The 50% off is till mid-June.
People forget that BB has been an innovator for a long time and as such, will sometimes strike out (such as the pictured outfit). Still lots of good stuff, shirts are great, jackets are great, excellent USA-made ties, lots of other traditional stuff if you peruse their website.
BB still a primary go-to for me for the foreseeable future. If they want to make a little extra money on the side with some silly Euro-cut clothing, doesn’t bother me.
The “Italian occupation” of Brooks continues-