The currents of change move slowly in menswear; there is always time, as TS Eliot put it, “to murder and create.”
Adherence to this adage may result in innovation, but more often than not the target of “murder” and the object of creation are one and the same. In short, menswear does away with certain items only to resurrect them a few years later.
In “Back to the Button-Down,” a 1972 trendspotting article by Time Magazine, the button-down collared shirt was one such item declared dead and then summarily revived. This piece dismisses the validity of the original (“found only at stubbornly conservative shops like Brooks Brothers”), in favor of the revamped, designer version of the button-down pioneered by Bill Blass. This new button-down for the new man of 1972 features longer collar points, vivid patterning, and is designed to be worn with the more fashion-forward suits of the era.
But it is Brooks, not Blass, who gets the final word, refuting the skeptics with evidence of strong sales in the old-school variety of oxford shirts. Now, as the button-down undergoes a second (or third or fourth) resurgence, the Brooks Brothers of 1972 provides a sound example to follow, bucking the “classic revival” trend by remaining simply classic. Its vice-president at the time, Ashbel T. Wall, says it best: “It’s nice to know you’re right.” — ZACHARY DELUCA
Image from O’Connells