Rolled Back And Forth: The Strange Trajectory Of The Brooks Brothers Oxford

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Throughout the 20th century the Brooks Brothers oxford-cloth buttondown was a classic of American menswear, so iconic it was immortalized in a piece of literature, namely Mary McCarthy’s short story “The Man In The Brooks Brothers Shirt.” Like all of Brooks’ clothing throughout those decades, the shirt offered superb taste and good quality at a fair price. But the new-old oxford the company unveiled to the media today — the kind the character in the story would have worn — brings up all sorts of strange contradictions that have myself and colleagues scratching our heads more than ever over Brooks and its legacy.

Late this afternoon Brooks Brothers confirmed to Ivy Style that this new oxford is now THE oxford, and that the previous one, most recently priced at $95, has been phased out. This means that the iconic shirt the company introduced in 1896, and which epitomized good quality at a fair price, will now set you back a hefty $140.

Let’s examine more closely the strange trajectory of this signature item, one of the half-dozen or so, along with tweed sack jackets, khakis and flannels, Weejuns, and knit and rep ties, that came to define the Ivy League Look.

The Brooks oxford rose to its iconic status manufactured a very specific way resulting in a very specific appearance. Most notably, the collar was unlined and unfused, creating a signature roll when worn. At some point in the late ’80s Brooks Brothers suddenly changed the collar to one that was lined and fused, eliminating the distinctive shape.

Diehard customers felt, shall we say, con-fused by this.

Over the past 25 years or so, without any kind of direct explanation, Brooks Brothers gradually accustomed its customers to the new lined and fused oxford, which it still called the Original Polo. This was the iconic Brooks Brothers oxford as a new generation came to know it. But now the company has done a 180-degree about-face, eliminated the lined and fused version it sold for so long, and will begin the process of re-accustomizing its customers to an unlined and unfused version. This is now the iconic Brooks Brothers oxford, not the one that was in stores just a short time ago.

My guess is that, from the point of view of the company’s bottom line, there were so few customers for the classic must-iron oxford that Brooks figured it might as well just give the purists what they never stopped clamoring about — and it surely noticed the small but devoted market for non-fused oxfords, which Bruce Boyer pointed out — and that it had no need to worry about making new converts or having to explain to whatever lined-and-fused devotees might be out there just what exactly happened to the shirt they were used to.

But from our point of view, it is yet another development in the tremendous change of this formerly small, distinguished American institution and paragon of upper-middle-class taste into a billion-dollar global trend-chasing apparel business. Which is why the new shirt feels like yet another thing for us to criticize. The primary reason this return to the original stings rather than soothes is the $45 jump in price. Does it really cost $45 more in the manufacturing plant to remove the collar and cuff lining, remove the pocket, and upgrade the buttons? It’s the same fabric made in the same place.

This is why Brooks Brothers devotees feel like jilted lovers. The company messed with a classic years ago, kept it messed up through two ownership changes, then finally decided to fix it, the cost of which is now being passed on in the form of a surcharge. Brooks Brothers is asking you to pay a premium for its own mistake.

Or, to put it metaphorically, to just roll with it. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

80 Comments on "Rolled Back And Forth: The Strange Trajectory Of The Brooks Brothers Oxford"

  1. There’s certainly no humility in the decision to charge $140 for this shirt, that’s for sure.

  2. The ocbds of the last few years are lined, but not fused. Compare the collar feel to J Press (lined and fused, very stiff). I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a Brooks ocbd that was fused.

    For price comparison, Polo has some New England Shirt Company-made ocbds that they sold for $185.

    Things are just getting expensive, no denying that paying more money sucks. As has been mentioned before, Del Vecchio said himself that he lost money on Garland-made shirts, and I’m guessing he got tired of it. Can we blame him?

    The late 80s is bandied about as the demise of the classic Brooks shirt, but Dave Mercer started making his in 1982. I recall some famous person from the late 1950s being quoted as saying the Brooks collar had changed for the worse then.

    The price is high, but comparable to similar offerings, and since people are clearly willing to pay those prices, why would Brooks charge less? As for this being a bone thrown to trads, that doesn’t strike me as a good use of the company’s time or resources, especially given the number of colors they are offering.

    To Bruce’s point about Brooks being a follower rather than an innovator, that’s just fine by me if they follow good trends! So they’re hopping on the unlined bandwagon a little late. That doesn’t bug me, and maybe they’ll hop on the natural shoulder bandwagon, or the undarted bandwagon, or the chalky ancient madder tie bandwagon.

    That…sounds pretty good to me…

  3. In the 1980s, I (or sometimes my predecessor if the shirt was a hand-me-down) used to wear Brooks oxford shirts until the collars were so frayed that they split right open and you could see what was inside (Nothing! Except for the Brooksgate shirts in the young men’s department, which did have a lining). I don’t recall the collars changing until the mid or late 90s, however, not the late 80s as stated above.

  4. I’m not sure when as I was a mere lad. But a source at the company said the change happened almost immediately after the M&S acquisition.

  5. DCG,

    You make some good points in both this post and your comment on the Boyer post.

    I will say that I don’t think that most people are upset that Brooks is offering this new shirt. In fact, I think that it would be receiving a much warmer response if customers weren’t losing a product in the process. The loss makes it feel less like a new addition and more like a replacement. It is disruptive. Trads like stability. This is driving the mixed emotions.

    The price jump doesn’t help either 😉

  6. John Carlos | January 13, 2016 at 8:16 pm |

    DCG, I’m with you. Price seems to be in line with Mercer and O’Connell’s. I’m just glad BB finally came to their senses……for whatever reason.

  7. 20 years of customer complaints? The invention of the Internet?

  8. I’m too young to know about anything other than what’s been around lately (32 years old), but I’m all for going back… I watch firing line on Amazon from time to time for some laughs and notice Buckley’s shirt collars look far better than mine (which are the Brooks must-iron USA shirts)

    Also glad I just picked up 4 over the holiday sale for around $200 for the set! Although I’m sure they’ll still get a bulk discount after a while, if not immediately…

  9. OCBD: Some liked the lined shirts fine, including me, but the majority of people on the internet bashed them for the collar roll, while the majority of customers buy non-iron. Add to that the fact that they lost money, and it’s a miracle they lasted as long as they did.

    I’m excited to see these in person, and I’m glad that Brooks bucked their own non-iron trend to move into a higher end direction, even if prices reflect that. Next step is pink striped, and green!

  10. Maybe we’ll have to go back to shirt repair shops that “turn the collar:” i.e. unpick the collar from a garment, turn it over and restitch it in place. From the time of Herbert Hoover J.Press sales staffs directed many value oriented customers to neighborhood dry cleaning establishment that specialized in the art.

  11. “…begin the process of re-accustomizing its customers to an unlined and unfused version.”

    But does this new (you know, as in old) Brooks OCBD feature a collar sans all (even a thin layer of) lining? The description speaks of a “softened” collar. If the geniuses at Brooks wanted to hammer home the fact of the unlined matter, they’d have used the phrase “unlined,” right? Isn’t there reason to suspect they’ve reduced the amount of lining, but not eliminated it altogether?

    If the collar and cuffs are unlined, I’ll wait for the sale and stock up on a few.

  12. From the press release posted here ealier today:

    “Most notably, the trademarked collar was adjusted by removing the interlining for a softer, natural shape and a rolled collar effect returning to the original design of the shirt.”

  13. Why no pocket?!?

  14. Ward Wickers | January 13, 2016 at 9:45 pm |

    I just ordered a shirt from Michael-Spencer–my first. If it is as good as I expect it will be, I’ll order a bunch more. I have no problem with my shirts coming from M-S and Mercer. I like that they are hand made, and M-S offers a fair amount of custom options (e.g., lined/unlined collars, neck and sleeve sizes in quarter-inches, different length sleeves, locker loops, split yokes). I already know that Mercer shirts are outstanding with the right collar roll. For about the same price (M-S: $135, Mercer $125) they seem like the better deal.

    Brooks Brothers has outlet shops where prices are substantially reduced. I go to the one in North Conway, NH regularly. Brooks will frequently have sales around the holidays (Memorial Day, 4th of July, etc.) when prices are even better. If you live near an outlet or travel to one, you will likely see these new old OCBD shirts discounted there.

  15. In a 1966 issue of Esquire George Frazier complained about both pockets on dress shirts and lamented what the hell was going on with the “flair” of the Brooks buttondown.

    Was planning to post the piece next.

  16. I’m really surprised about the lack of enthusiasm here for these new shirts. Price aside, it’s most of what the trad community has been asking for: unlined collar & wider collection of candy stripes. And who here has ever paid full price for one of the lined BB OCBDs? Forty percent off $140 is $84. That’s probably the best price one can get these days on a made in the USA shirt.

    If trad style was the height of mainstream fashion, there would be a wealth of inexpensive, faithful options. But it’s not, so we all accept that Alden shoes cost $500+ and that thick, Scottish Shetlands go for at least $150. That’s way more than a pair of Johnston & Murphys or a merino sweater from the mall. Any niche style is bound to cost more. It’s not Brook’s fault that our fashion preferences are no longer mainstream. That battle was lost over 30 years ago. We should be applauding them for providing us with the new cheapest faithful OCBD, unless Michael Spencer starts offering 40% off a few times a year…

    Can’t wait to grab the violet and yellow stripes versions!

  17. A few weeks ago I was in the elevator at Brooks and overheard a guy late fifties or so saying he was having a hard time finding things to spend money on there. I had to interject, introduce myself, and query him about it. We spoke for a while and one of the points he made was that BB, like department stores, had conditioned customers to buy only when things were on sale, which further conditioned them that the goods are not worth the asking price.

    It’s very interesting to note that in the discussion here, on FB and at Andy’s Trad Forum all the talk is about getting the new shirts on sale. Hardly anyone seems to think the new asking price is worth it, yet for so many decades the asking price was fair, people considered the shirt a basic staple, and bought it like you’d buy any other basic staple (accounting for the target demographic, of course; it was not a poor man’s shirt but nor was it a rich man’s). Not sure if that change is Brooks’ business model, declining demand, or the fact that apparently the destiny of rich, advanced capitalistic societies is that you have to be a rich advanced capitalist to afford quality.

  18. Dim bulb that I am, I need some help here.

    From the label:
    1) “Made in USA of *Imported* Fabric”,
    2) “100% American Supima Cotton”.

    Please help this simpleton reconcile “imported” and “American”.

    Many thanks in advance.

  19. Another sharp eye.

    So the American cotton is sent overseas for weaving into fabric, then sent back here to North Carolina where the shirt is made?

  20. Well, C, that’s the only way I can see it, too. Embarrassed that I didn’t figure it out, but thanks.

  21. My memory might be at fault on exactly when after the Marks & Spencer acquisition of Brooks that I bought a striped oxford shirt and was stunned to find when I got it home and took it out of the package that the collar was thick and lined. I do remember that it had been several years since I last bought an oxford shirt from Brooks, and so it’s entirely possible that the change happened years before I found out about it.

  22. We’ll always find some reason to launch into an apoplectic fever, regardless of what BB gives us. I agree that the absence of a pocket is indeed casus belli. At this point BB fouling up is axiomatic and should be handled with a grain of salt.

    Pricing is often based upon the concept of diminishing utility. Stores know we’ll all buy at least 1 at full price and then make subsequent purchases at a discounted price. We’ll justify the first purchase as a must have and rationalize that we really don’t NEED more unless offered a discount. This is what drives “BOGO 50% off” or “Buy 3 for $300.” Plus at the end of the day BB buyers are savvy enough to know a SE Asian shirt better damn well be discounted.

    Additionally, anyone ever notice that Fred Rogers is one Ivy mofo?

  23. @George

    Don’t apologize for being dim; you’re the one who spied it. I only speculated. It’s certainly as odd as referring to the university stripes as bengal, which is almost like the way other major retailers call sportcoats “blazers,” either out of ignorance or believing it sounds cooler to the consumer.

  24. MattyLongLegs | January 13, 2016 at 10:58 pm |

    Alas, I’m one of the many customers that have to wait until sale time.

  25. @WFB

    Took a fresh look at Rogers. I remembered the zippered cardigans, and there they were in all their unforgivable glory.

    But his ties and pinned collars are right up my alley. In fact, with those old white canvas sneakers he would change into, he sorta looks like me at the Brooks golf simulator. You know, save for the Viking beard and Delacroix hairstyle.

    We should do a post. Given his generation, curious where he was raised and went to school.

  26. Originally from Latrobe, PA area (same as Arnold Palmer). Attended Dartmouth and then transferred to Rollins. Ordained Presbyterian minister. Noticed the other day his 3/2 roll along with tweeds and flannels. I think he’d make for an interesting article.

  27. Chris has become our historical/biography man, but Richard is pretty much one degree seperated from every 20th-century luminary, and they’re both Dartmouth men.

  28. From The Secret Vice by Tom Wolf: “For the boys at Yale and Harvard sex is not taboo. But when the catalogue comes from J.Press and Brooks Brothers that’s something they whip out only in private….searching like detectives for the marginal differences, the shirt with a flap over the breast pocket (J.Press), the shirt with no breast pocket (Brooks)….”

  29. please excuse: THE SECRET VICE by TOM WOLFE

  30. Maybe I got lucky scoring some older BB ocbds, but I manage to get a nice collar roll similar to this http://i.imgur.com/ARKsfkG.jpg

    could it be that after some use, the lining goes soft and you end up with nice roll, or did I happen to thrift some older BBs, to be honest, they don’t seem to be pre-early 80s,

  31. Kenneth K. Beck | January 14, 2016 at 1:00 am |

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but in the heyday the unlined collars on must-iron shirts only developed a roll after they had been washed. The roll was, in fact, an unintended manufacturing defect caused by the fact that 100% cotton cloth always shrunk, causing the collar-point buttons to move up towards the neckband. Trads turned a defect into a fetish. I for one am greatly indebted to BB for producing the non-iron shirt with a lined collar, liberating me from impossible-to-iron shirts with bulging collars.

  32. V.A.H. Moran | January 14, 2016 at 1:25 am |

    How old does a man have to be before he grows up, leaves behind the OCBD shirts of his salad days, and graduates to straight-collar white broadcloth shirts?

  33. Henry Contestwinner | January 14, 2016 at 3:03 am |

    Ward Wickers,

    I understand that Brooks, in the same fashion as many other retailers, no longer uses their outlet stores as a way to move last season’s merchandise at a discount; rather, they produce lower-cost products specifically for the outlet market. In Brooks’ case, it’s the 346 line, which used to be an entry-level line at BB stores and is now the outlet line. (Some brands have a similar strategy but send the goods to discount retailers such as Marshall’s/TJ Maxx, Ross, and Kohl’s.)

    CC,

    Retailers know that consumers respond to sales like cats respond to catnip.* It’s a proven way to increase sales, so we can’t fault retailers for doing it; however, it has precisely the effect your friend in the elevator noted, and now, many consumers will wait for the inevitable sale. I imagine that retailers plan for it now. The only risk for the consumer is that come sale time, what you want might not be available in your size.

    Randy,

    I wanted to buy four shirts for $200 (a bit more, actually, when tax & shipping were included, so about $60/shirt, as I recall), but I couldn’t find four shirts that I wanted! I found just two I would have liked, so I passed. There were no blue university striped OCBD shirts, which was a real disappointment—I would have bought two or three of those.

    *Is this a trigger word for those of Asian ancestry in general, and Japanese ancestry in particular?

  34. Henry Contestwinner | January 14, 2016 at 3:08 am |

    V.A.H. Moran,

    Funny you should mention that. When I entered the workforce in the 1980s, I wore white straight collar shirts exclusively; now, I rarely wear such shirts, breaking them out only for serious occasions requiring a suit (and even then, am more likely to wear a colored shirt).

  35. Roger C. Russell II | January 14, 2016 at 3:50 am |

    I am glad to see that Brooks Brothers is responding to the wishes of their original Trad. customer base. However, I commited my business away from them due their lack of respect for customers and I am not likely to go back. I do drop in to my local store on occasion and the sales people are so out of touch with proper clothing that it just turns me off.
    I will have to say that irrregardless of what company we choose to purchase our shirts from that they simply will not presently match the quality of shirts we had 25 or 30 years ago. The fit and cut may be repaired, but cotton is mostly all imported now. Our farmers are paid not to grow cotton so that we can create markets for other countries. The imported cotton/cloth is not as durable as the cotton we once grew is the U.S.

  36. V.A.H. Moran,

    Ah, the joys of wearing a crisp white shirt!

  37. I’m very excited about the shirts but it’s almost a little to pure with no pocket. I have eBayed and thrifted BB shirts that are 40 years old and there were all pockets on the Oxford’s? CC can you shed a little more info. Can you add a pocket?

  38. Coming late to the party. I’m glad BB is selling unlined collars once again, but feel as most do that there is something anti-climactic about it. Major question for me is the length of the points, because they look shortened in the accompanying photograph. I’ll want to see one in person before I purchase a BB instead of a Mercer, not only because a Mercer shirt is the real deal, but because one actually gets to talk to an intelligent human being (David) when ordering. I also think Mercer’s fabric, while durable, is softer and more appealing that the BB Supima.

    If the new shirt proves viable, fears that it will turn out to be only a marketing fad seem fully justified, because BB has no real identity anymore.

  39. The 1921-22 Princeton University Bric-A-Brac reveals a Tiger tennis team outfitted in OCBDs. The collars appear soft (unlined) and long(ish).

    And there are chest pockets on at least a couple.

    So, the notion that a pocketless OCBD speaks to some sort of Ivy purity is, I think, misguided. It may be the Brethren sold pocketless oxfords during the heyday of the vested suit, but, as always, the history of beginnings complicates the discussion.

    The excitement over Supima may be misguided, as well. It’s fine but there’s oxford that’s beefier–thicker, heftier. The Japanese selvedge Ralph uses for his oxfords is brawny stuff.

  40. Roger C Russell II – As per the label, the shirts are made using American-grown cotton.

  41. I think this move at BB is another example of chasing the “authentic” crowd of hipsters in the same way we now see artificially rediscovered “old” bourbon, coffee or heirloom vegetables. As if those things were always there, yet only known to a few true aesthetes, this new ethic is creating things that seek to appear authentic with a provenance but are actually new. Bourbon literally ceased to exist since the 1920’s, yet now we have so many hipsters running around sipping recently invented alcohols they want to believe have some ancient connection to the past. I am an old codger and my Dad wore Troy Guild and Gant shirts for as long as I can remember, but I’ve only recently discovered that the men in my crowd (young and old) suddenly have any realization about unlined collars.

  42. First of all the comments on sales are spot on. No one pays $498 for a BB cashmere sweater when you know that they can be had for 50% off. As to the shirts, does anyone else believe that they were “heavier” in the early 80s? I recall carrying them to the launder and comments on their relative weight. Is it the foreign cotton?

  43. The is one other consideration in regards to the price hike is that hey are probably using a superior quality of cotton. I’ve been consistently disappointed with the Supima shirts of the last several years. They come out of the package and after repeated washings, they never get soft. When I compare them to my shirts that I still have from the early ’90’s (well frayed of course), those early shirts are considerably softer and iron much better. They’re just a finer shirt. And for sure the quality of the fabric in any garment is a huge driver of cost.

  44. Bags' Groove | January 14, 2016 at 11:59 am |

    @HenryCW
    You are one wild and crazy cat!
    So what’s your next move going to be? Going down one of those Greenwich Village jazz clubs, or maybe trying one of those cockamamie cocktails?

  45. They don’t look right to me. I smell a rat.

  46. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | January 14, 2016 at 12:25 pm |

    CC,

    Don’t mean to change topics, but since we are on the subject of (exorbitant) costs of wardrobe staples, any insight on what’s going on at RL, and why they are selling their Purple Label suits even cheaper than Brooks Brothers now?

    I know they’ve merged it with Black Label, but beyond that, they seem to be going the other direction as BB in terms of pricing.

  47. Marc Chevalier | January 14, 2016 at 1:21 pm |

    The first Brooks Brothers long-sleeved OCBD were popovers. That is, their front placket didn’t open all the way down to the front tail. For nearly five decades, this was the true ‘classic” BB shirt.

    When Brooks Brothers was acquired in 1946 by Julius Garfinckel & Co., new director John C. Wood discontinued the original long-sleeved OCBD popover. Winthrop Holly Brooks was incensed: non-popovers, he fumed, “make me feel like my pecker’s hanging out!”

  48. Imported Fabric almost definitely means Made in China or Viet Nam. To refer to a fabric as imported and not Chinese is tantamount to referring to used cars as pre-owned. Insulting. BB discounting notwithstanding, I would expect a $150 oxford shirt to be constructed of fabric imported from England or Italy. Were the fabric from England or Italy, you better believe it would say so on the label.

    Will

  49. Mr. Chavalier: J.Press called the popover shirts you referred to as pullovers. Until the middle 1960s J.Press shirts were made by The Tyson Shirt Company of Norristown, PA. When the company folded Troy Guild moved into the fray and were unable to duplicate the pullover Tyson requirements necessitating our discontinuing the model at the time 5% of our white and blue oxford BD business.

  50. The buried lede here is that there is no longer a Traditional Fit OCBD from Brooks. The new ones are only in Madison, Regent, and Milano. The old ones had Traditional, if only online. http://www.ivy-style.com/the-shirt-that-changed-history-and-how-history-is-changing-the-shirt.html

  51. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | January 14, 2016 at 2:54 pm |

    @CC,

    Yes, following your link, I see some RLPL suits that cost $2,495. This now costs less than BB Golden Fleece suits that cost around $2,500.

    See:
    http://www.ralphlauren.com/product/index.jsp?productId=83760696

    It definitely erases the aura and the mystic from “Purple Label.” Ralph Lauren’s elite, exclusive brand is now accessible to to many. I’m not sure if I get it. Seems like a contradiction. And with the predictable semi-annual sales at 40%, those will be < $1,000.

    And the new sport coats:
    http://www.ralphlauren.com/product/index.jsp?productId=83760586&cp=54803326.54803846&ab=ln_men_cs_suits&parentPage=family

    … cost as much as the old Polo Ralph Lauren back in the days when they used to be prodotta da Corneliani in Italia.

  52. Señor Yuca | January 14, 2016 at 2:55 pm |

    They still don’t look like the old ones to me.

    If someone likes these shirts then good for them. But as they’re marketed as a resurrection of the old classic, whether or not they actually are the old classic is important. The photos we have so far don’t give away too much, but from what I have seen I’m highly dubious.

    I would be happy to be proved wrong.

  53. Señor Yuca | January 14, 2016 at 3:32 pm |

    Also, I only started buying Brooks 5 years ago and I now know more about their history than the present owners do. I find that somewhat disconcerting.

  54. If the collar points remain shortened at 3-1/4″ then this is definitively not a return to the classic OCBD. Assuming the GQ article is accurate, any enthusiasm I felt yesterday for this development has mostly fizzled away simply because, based on my observations and experience, collars of that length don’t roll as well and it’s that roll that made the collar iconic in the first place. Will wait to see a shirt in person before passing final judgment.

  55. The earliest “coat style” Brooks oxford shirts from the post-World War II era had no pocket. Brooks added the chest pocket to the shirts in the mid- to late-1960s. The pocket remained standard, until now, apparently. This is described and illustrated with photos here: http://putthison.com/post/47706678968/the-ocbd-shirt-series-part-ii-the-golden-era. That discussion includes an example of an early popover or pullover oxford shirt with no pocket. I had a bunch of old, pocketless hand-me-down Brooks oxford shirts that I wore when I was in college in the 1980s. But all the shirts I bought new from Brooks in the 80s had a pocket. So the pocket has come and gone over the years.

  56. On the BB outlets:

    The large majority of what is sold there is the “346” brand. I have one 346 piece: my “weddings and funerals” white dress shirt. I figured that something I’ll put on once a year was a good place to skimp.

    You can find some mainline stuff on the clearance rack. I scored a cashmere sweater for less than 20% of the tagged price.

  57. Just buy Mercer.

  58. Just realized button-upgrade BS. Kamakura already has mother-of-pearl buttons on its oxford, price $79.

  59. So far, I don’t think that anyone has mentioned the button that was on the back of the collar once upon a time (when ties were narrower).

  60. Step in the right direction, but what about the placket – still 7 buttons? Who has time for that when dressing for work in the morning? Mercer’s standard 6 button placket is perfect. And the collar points are the right length.

  61. Why in the world would anyone pay $140 (or even $90 on sale) for a basic oxford shirt is beyond me. It’s insane. LL Bean sells traditional oxford shirts in traditional sizes, a variety of classic styles, and good cloth for $45 a piece. A basic oxford button down shirt shouldn’t be a luxury item.

  62. Just realized that traditional fit is gone? Is that not the ‘original, fit?

    I’m also a bit confused as to whether the collar is truly unlined, given the description, I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

  63. Henry Contestwinner | January 15, 2016 at 2:30 am |

    BG,

    You know I can’t stand most jazz!

  64. Bags' Groove | January 15, 2016 at 4:18 am |

    HenryCW,
    Okay, so tell me you’ve been out on a modest cocktail binge, and make me happy. It’s all vicarious for me now, as I can no longer do it. Feel my pain, baby.

  65. @Seve

    LLBean’s OCBD shirts are non-specified “imported” – we know what that means – and seem to be available only in wrinkle-free fabrics. Lands’ End sells “imported” regular (non-treated) OCBDs for $50, but that’s not really an apples-to-apples comparison as they are “imported”.

    The BB shirt is, at $140, priced more or less the same as the other major made-in-USA OCBD sources, namely Andover, Cable Car, O’Connell’s, Mercer, and J. Press, and of course less expensive than Ben Silver.

    The BB OCBD has been subsidized for years at below-profitability pricing, but BB has apparently decided that the shirt has to pay its own way. Judging by the negativity here and at AskAndy, I guess it probably can’t. It’s never before been so clear to me that a significant percentage of the online followers of this style really do seem to want high quality, made-in-USA, not-that-popular styles to be available to them for offshored or even thrift-store prices. That’s just not going to happen.

  66. @Seve

    Is expecting a high quality oxford shirt made in America for under $100 with no slave labor involved unreasonable? I suppose I am unreasonable.

    Supima cotton gets picked here in the US, travels by land to a ship, ship travels to the other side of the world, cotton travels from ship to factory in China, slaves weave fabric, fabric travels back across land to ship, ship travels back to other side of the world to US, fabric travels from ship to shirt factory. Labor unions anybody?

    Will

  67. I never said I cared that my oxford shirt was produced in the United States or not. Oxford shirts aren’t an heirloom item. A white button down oxford shirt, if worn somewhat consistently, is only going to last for two or three years. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to pay $100 more for a product that is essentially the same thing.

  68. Will Barrett | January 15, 2016 at 11:44 am |

    @Taliesin – yes, it is deeply frustrating that what was once a staple item in a man’s wardrobe is now costing $140. Most people simply don’t have that kind of money.

  69. Anyone want to research what the shirt cost early ’80s and adjust for inflation? I just checked ’80s catalog but it didn’t have prices.

  70. http://www.askandyaboutclothes.com/forum/showthread.php?119603-Brooks-Brothers-pricing-in-the-1980s

    This isn’t exactly a scholarly citation but it appears that a BB OCBD was $29.50 in 1980 which is $85 today.

    I just received the email stating my 2 were delivered today; white and blue. I’ll post collar length as it appears they are still short.

  71. BB OCBD pricing over the years, drawn randomly from catalog scans I was able to find.

    Year Retail Inflation-adjusted
    1939 $4 $69
    1953 7.5 67
    1969 10.5 69
    1981 29.5 78
    1988 44 89
    1991 48 85

  72. @Taliesin

    Is there an economist in the house? This doesn’t seem to make sense. How could the shirt in today’s dollars be $85 in 1991 when it was selling for $79 in 2013?

  73. This is the inflation calc that I use.

    http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl

  74. If they didn’t raise the price in lockstep with annual inflation, you’d expect years when it is more expensive and years when it is less expensive. I think what they do is raise the price and then leave it in place for a few years or more, so that the initial increase is muted over time.

    Either way, the shirt is certainly far more expensive now than it used to be. Not sure why. I understand domestic manufacturing being undercut by cheaper foreign products, but why would that then make the domestic product more expensive (instead of just the same price but no longer competitive at that price)?

  75. Henry Contestwinner | January 16, 2016 at 2:25 am |

    I’ll raise a glass to you on my next night on the town, BG.

  76. Here is my two cents. I haven’t seen the new shirt but the photos do suggest a shorter collar length, as well as a trimmed down collar width (the width of the collar is equally important in terms of its ability to roll). I agree with the prior comments that the soon-to-be-discontinued oxford, lined or unlined, was a great shirt at an incredible price point. It strikes me that if the company was being sincere about their latest efforts they would have simply corrected the predecessor model by removing the lining from the collar, cuffs and placket, and instructing their factory to pay more attention to the collar length (its supposed to be 3 and 3/8″ in length), tie space (that’s right, the wider the tie space, the better the roll, because the knot of the tie will not interfere the collar’s ability to bend and move freely), and button placement, to insure the proper collar roll. The new gussets are a gimmick in that they add nothing the strength of side seams, which is why any reputable shirt manufacturer does not use them (does anyone here ever recall a shirt falling apart at the side seams?). Just as gimmicky is the use of mother of pearl buttons, the equivalent of putting racing tires on a Ford Focus and then charging a higher price. What I believe is missing here, and what is present at the other purveyors of American made oxford cloth shirts (Mercer, O’Connells, Andover, MS, etc.), is love. That’s right, I said love. The other manufacturers believe in their product and want to make it a certain way because they love the idea of their shirt. Brooks brought this shirt back (if it really is back) because of customer pressure and the fact that they were losing money on the predecessor oxfords, which would have been fine if their factory would have tightened up their adherence to certain specifications like the collar length, tie space and button placement (a lined collar can roll just as well as its unlined counterpart if certain specs are followed, which is why Michael Spencer offers both a lined and unlined version of the same shirt). So now Brooks has reluctantly brought the shirt back with what appears to be shorter collar points, no pocket and no more traditional fit, while adding worthless gussets and unnecessary mother of pearl buttons. Nothing is being brought back, rather more is being done away with. I, of course, will visit the Madison Avenue store and look at the shirt, but I am not optimistic.

  77. Got a blue one yesterday. 25% off plus BB rewards cards= $45. Regent (slim fit). Feels and fits fine. I temporarily lost a pair of reading glasses yesterday, and I was wearing a shirt with a pocket. No pocket could take a while to get used to. I keep looking in the mirror and something seems odd. Anyway, so far I like it.

  78. F. Helbard | May 4, 2016 at 1:18 pm |

    Thank the Good Lord for J. Press’ lined and fused collars.
    They give a gentleman a proper appearance.

  79. I had been buying Brooks Brothers suits for more than thirty years, but I’ve finally given up on them. The last two suits I purchased were the classic Navy blues, and once they were in my closet next to some of their older siblings, it was obvious at a glance that the build and stitching was substantially inferior to identical suits just a few years older. The lining on one of the new suits came loose after only around six months of wear! The simple truth is that there isn’t any reason to buy from Brooks Brothers any more, unless you are attached to the label. You can get significantly better quality at lower price at your local department store. Don’t even get me started on this “no iron” shirt crap!

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