Paul Stuart is not competing with Brooks Brothers.

This, folks, is the collar of Paul Stuart’s new offering, the Oxford Non Iron Sports Shirt.  That is what they call it.  That is not what I call it.  Tom Turner of our site emailed me this yesterday and we had a great talk about it (that man knows the business of ocbd’s better than those who are actually in the business, as an aside).   The original thesis was the Paul Stuart is competing with Brooks Brothers now, and I will get to that for sure, but first.  Let’s take a look at the shirt before we do the market analysis.

The roll on the collar = pretty good!  Of course, they all do in the photos, but at least they acknowledge the roll, and that matters, right?  The spread looks alright – too far and you walk into that dangerous oxford-one-might-wear-to-a-dance-club-if-in-fact-one-went-to-a-dance-club.  It’s right on the edge.  Like they went, but the bouncer wouldn’t let them in.  Button placement on the collar is one of those things.  Get it wrong and you are a $20 retail shirt.  Get it right and you move up.  Paul Stuart knows quality, so the buttons and stitching appear up to snuff.  I have never seen one in real life, but since this is new, neither have you, so we can both surmise from the photos.   I cannot speak to fit (yet) but I can speak to the logo- – which, if you HAVE TO DO THAT (and you don’t), is as tasteful as a logo can be done.  Dear Paul Stuart folks, I love your logo, on letterhead, on those great print pieces you do – not on the clothing.

 

And now we head into the other questions.  Is Paul Stuart competing with Brooks Brothers?  Nope.  There is no reason to.  Art of War.  Don’t interrupt your enemy while they are making a mistake.  There’s no need to create a product or a campaign competing with a brand that is not, at present, surging.  Although there is hope.  More on that later.   What does this tell us then?  That Paul Stuart knows what we have been saying, that classic clothing, and its various iterations, are going to make a comeback.  So let’s get a shirt out there.

Yes, it is non iron.  I don’t like it either.  But I am not who they are marketing to.  Who they are marketing to = absolutely zero-point-zero inclination to iron anything.  And willing to make the compromises that one has to make to forego ironing.  You can bemoan the demise of the must-iron shirt, and there will always be some around (thank god) – BUT.  You must also accept that when given the choice between ironing and everything else – well, you can do the math there.

Is this a sports shirt?  THIS. IS. A. PROBLEM.  It isn’t a sports shirt.  The ocbd is not a sports shirt.  I understand the thinking.  Call it a sports shirt and somebody will think: hey, this is better looking athleisure and I can wear this and look one step up from, well, athleisure.   That’s like classifying an inflatable raft a boat and calling your inlaws from said raft and announcing  you are on a cruise.   To sell this shirt, you have to sell the lifestyle.  You all met Ralph, right?

What are we left with here?  This.  Paul Stuart is a well-resourced, well thought out brand that has survived where others have not.  They have seen the first few bleeps on the EKG of the OCBD, and have invested in full resuscitation.  Their iteration of it.  I welcome it.  You should too – a rising tide lifts all boats.  – JB

 

 

 

26 Comments on "Paul Stuart is not competing with Brooks Brothers."

  1. Roy R. Platt | August 5, 2021 at 11:11 am |

    Just looked at the Paul Stuart website.

    The shirts are $105.00 and are alpha sized.

    https://www.paulstuart.com/mens/sportswear/sport-shirts/210S9999-N400.html

  2. No.
    Three fails:
    1. Non-iron
    2. Logo
    3. No placket
    Oh, make that four.
    4. Alpha sizing
    I guess that I’ll stick with RL & suffer with the horsie.

  3. Double spacing after a period (and you use far too many periods, this seems to be a tic of yours) is very amateurish. In fact, your entire “style” of writing broadcasts your avocational background.

    Hi Ed. (1). How on earth do you even notice such a thing? (2). What’s an avocational background? (3). https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/05/two-spaces-after-a-period/559304/ – they say it doesn’t make a difference either way, half are right, half are wrong. (4). I think I know what an avocational background is. You mean, like, I surf? (5). I use periods at the end of sentences. I am not sure that is using too many, unless I double up. Like this: .. – but I don’t. But one period at the end of a sentence is a tic of mine. And it should be of yours, too. Right? Right. (6) Why “style” in “quotes”? Even if you don’t like my style, it is still a style. Here. Try this. You “aren’t” trying to come up with something “negative” to say just because “you” don’t “have” anything to “add” to the real subject. – JB

  4. Another guy | August 5, 2021 at 12:23 pm |

    As others have said it’s very much not for me. It did inspire me to check out their dress shirt offerings. They have something called an Oxford traveler shirt with a button down collar in a color that I wouldn’t wear. But what I did like (albeit not at the price offered) is the graph check shirt with the button down collar. However, it is described as coming with removable collar stays. I can’t even begin to imagine how that works.

    Any way, for a truly good laugh please click the following

    https://www.paulstuart.com/catalog/spring-2021-sportswear-lookbook/hooded-blazer.html

  5. While I’ll never buy this shirt, (I don’t do non-iron anything or logos, however small, as I’m sure is the case for most of us,) I am also glad that it exists. Anything that can serve as a gateway drug that leads men to dress better is fine by me. Gotta start somewhere.
    *I don’t take issue with the placket. There were some great ivy-mod cross-pollinated shirts in the 60s that had similar quirks. At least there’s no polyester.

  6. Charlottesville | August 5, 2021 at 12:33 pm |

    Good analysis, JB (that sounds like a line from David Hyde Pierce in Down With Love). I have less interest in acquiring one of these than the target audience has in ironing it. PhilipM is correct in his analysis as well. Nevertheless, it indicates that somebody with a large, expensive men’s store on Madison Avenue thinks the OCBD has some life left in it. A welcome change from so many menswear writers who continually proclaim the death of traditional clothing and advise grownups to dress like children (see, e.g., the nearly always clueless Wall Street Journal menswear columns). That bodes well for Mercer and J. Press and other places that still do things right, and I don’t want to let the perfect be the enemy of the … well if not good, at least the not so bad.

    For what it’s worth, apropos of a recent lament on this site, according to an e-mail I just received, BB has reintroduced a version of its broadcloth button-front boxers: https://www.brooksbrothers.com/Luxury-Boxers/MB00034,default,pd.html?bc_pid=TUIwMDAzNA%3D%3D&CMP=EMC_BackinStock_TRIG&obem=RyxVdkgr7E-XgGZCIidsMCelnsAxmFjPmkKo4S7eah8%3D&bc_lcid=t5015781334925312lw4742766344880128 . Not the same, of course, and probably made in China like their reintroduced OCBs (oxford cloth boxers), but at least its something other than the athleisure, soft and fuzzy footie-jammy world in which so many otherwise adult men seem to be living these days. At least one cheer seems in order.

    Well that’s enough optimism for one day. Now back to my curmudgeonly whining about the shoulders on those Canadian suits, ties wider than 3.25 inches, the price of cordovan, etc., etc.

  7. Some clarifications:

    1. The logo on the shirt is supposedly Dink Stover, the hero of the famous novel “Stover at Yale.” He is showing wearing an ivy cap and sitting on the famous fence at Yale.

    2. John is absolutely right that the shirt is not a sport shirt. The French placket is cleaner but at the same time makes the shirt more formal. I believe it is called a sport shirt because it comes in alpha sizing. This is a great thing for guys like me who have a little bit of a gut from drinking too much beer.

    3. Here is where I disagree with John: I actually believe that Paul Stewart is competing with Ralph Lauren Polo and also Brooks Brothers with this new offering. The price point ($105) is peanuts for a PS shirt and also falls in the price range of shirt prices sold by Brooks Brothers and Polo Ralph Lauren.

    4. Paul Stuart must be doing something right. While other retailers are going bankrupt, they actually opened a new store ,in the Hamptons I believe, recently.

    5. Ralph Auriemma, the creative director, is a creative genius.

  8. I honestly cannot imagine why anybody would buy that shirt.

    @Another guy, Thank you, I needed a good laugh.

    Will

  9. Excellent analysis, JB. I agree with Cville. And great to see Roy Platt commenting. Not sure if he was here previously? but either way, if others who migrate from the facebook site have his style and keyboard maturity, bravo. As for Paul Stuart, well, some people will make anything that other people will buy. They likely sell few must-iron shirts these days.

  10. If you can live with non-iron (I can, and do), want a sized, traditional full-fit OCBD with a placket and a GREAT collar roll, go with LLBean.
    Been wearing them daily for years. I am a bit sensitive and the material doesn’t bother me in the least. They look great right out of the dryer, and even if you don’t hang them immediately, any wrinkles work out in minutes. Longevity is excellent, and the price is 1/2 of Stuart’s.
    No logo.

  11. Tom Turner | August 5, 2021 at 3:07 pm |

    Most PS shirts retail at 225+. The price point is very surprising. Looks like they are going for volume.

  12. Roger Sack | August 5, 2021 at 3:24 pm |

    I do not wear OCBDs but I used to and have always obsessed over
    collar roll. At first glance the points are too short and the roll seem
    scrunched. Also, the adjustable buttons on the cuffs usually denotes
    a cheap shirt. Look to Mercer for the standard.

  13. The endemic issue of too short of collars for OCBDs. I’m currently still in my Brooks’ OCBDs, but once these need to be rotated out definitely looking at Mercer.

  14. Too Much Johnson | August 5, 2021 at 4:40 pm |

    OCBD shirts are intrinsically non-iron. Wash, tumble cool, shake, snap the wrinkles out, hang in the bathroom overnight and – presto! – you have a perfect OCBD ready for anywhere and anything that you’d wear an and OCBD to/with.

    Non-iron anything is common at best, an utter travesty at worst.

    Don’t like Uncle Ralph’s horsey-poo?

    Do like we did in the 1980s and perform an equine-ectomy. A razor blade, a flat piece of glass, and some laundry soap for lube and off you go – working from behind with a bit of plucking at the front to arrive at a decent finish.

  15. JB – Another great piece. I like your style: clear, direct, easy to read. More Hemingway than Helprin. And I live for your replies to snarky comments – keep ‘em coming!

  16. Hi Ed. (1). How on earth do you even notice such a thing?

    I write as part of my profession

    No, you don’t. I mean, one of my favorite jobs was being a deli clerk, and I wrote the price on sandwiches. Maybe writing is in your job description. Tell you what. Email me, and send me a sample of your writing, and we’ll post it, and have a look.

    (2). What’s an avocational background?

    This ain’t your dayjob

    Dayjob ain’t one word, Strunk and White.

    (3). https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/05/two-spaces-after-a-period/559304/ – they say it doesn’t make a difference either way, half are right, half are wrong.

    Ask any professional writer

    Dear Mr. Ed – the paid writer of the aforementioned column is, by definition, a professional writer.

    (4). I think I know what an avocational background is. You mean, like, I surf?

    I mean, like, your writing indicates you’re not a professional writer.

    You should see my surfing.

    (5). I use periods at the end of sentences. I am not sure that is using too many, unless I double up. Like this: .. – but I don’t. But one period at the end of a sentence is a tic of mine. And it should be of yours, too. Right? Right.

    I’ll offer my own edited version of the above to illustrate what I mean:

    I use periods at the end of sentences and I’m not sure that’s using too many (unless I double up like this “..”, but I don’t.)

    One period at the end of a sentence is a tic of mine, and it should be yours too, right? Right.

    (6) Why “style” in “quotes”? Even if you don’t like my style, it is still a style. Here. Try this. You “aren’t” trying to come up with something “negative” to say just because “you” don’t “have” anything to “add” to the real subject. – JB

    Style is in quotes because I don’t think you’ve really thought this whole thing through enough to have a true writing style. What you seem to have are habits, and not very good ones. For instance, you break up your thoughts into microsentences that make for very tiresome reading. You also have a habit of attempting witty riposte but forgoing brevity or clarity in your wording, and the combination of these habits force the reader to do the work of making sense of your words for you.

    Microsentences. Is. Not. A. Word.

    And if you don’t mind my asking, in what universe is a non-review of what appears to be another shitty overpriced oxford shirt adding something to the subject? Also, what exactly is the subject here, that Paul Stuart should be applauded for this?

    Grow up. (I did. You should have seen my surfing before.)

  17. Another guy | August 5, 2021 at 4:50 pm |

    @EdS, have a lie down or maybe get some exercise.

  18. +1 to the LL Bean OCBD. The fabric doesn’t breathe well but it looks great.

  19. Charlottesville | August 5, 2021 at 5:00 pm |

    I agree with Another guy. Calm down. John is doing just fine.

  20. @Michael
    Paul Stuart opened in the vacated Brooks Brothers location on Main Street, Southampton

    BB Southampton location which was a mainstay for many yeats downsized from a double storefront retailing both men’s and women’s clothing, to a single storefront to…nothing in less than 30 months. I think the pandemic was the locations death knell. Sad ?
    Bill

  21. @Michael
    Paul Stuart opened in the vacated Brooks Brothers location on Main Street, Southampton

    The BB Southampton location, which was a mainstay for many years, downsized from a double storefront retailing both men’s and women’s clothing, to a single storefront to…nothing in less than 30 months. I think the pandemic was the location’s death knell. Sad ?
    Bill

  22. AndrewK247 | August 5, 2021 at 7:44 pm |

    Good news! The Hemp Multi-Colored Fedora is on sale!
    https://www.paulstuart.com/mens/accessories/hats/63067134-9010.html

    On a serious note, most of us will not buy much PS clothing.
    But unlike most people these days, the guys who do buy it care about their appearance. So the survival of PS should be applauded.

  23. @EdS

    What is your impression of FE Castleberry?

    Cheers

    Will

  24. FE does a kind of hipster prep – I’ve definitely picked up some ideas from FE. He has a niche client base that loves what he is doing – kudos to him for building a successful fashion business.

  25. I agree with the commenter, who noticed the strange habits of the new author of these articles. I noticed the excessive use of periods too, and I’m not a writer or an English language teacher. This doesn’t mean we don’t wish the new author the best of luck! We all can (and should) improve in various ways.
    Paul Stuart is an overpriced brand with an inconsistent and vague style.
    Brooks Brothers need a new flagship store! I heard they will open a new flagship before Christmas, but that information came a long time ago, so, who knows how their plans have changed since then.
    Currently, the only somewhat decent location (at least in New York), is on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. At least the salespeople seem to know what they’re doing.

  26. I humble myself and admit that I have gone all non-iron. When I take things down from the clothes line I fold them and put them in a drawer. The result is a wonderful rumpled look.

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