Take The B Train

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New Yorkers are no doubt familiar with the subway shuttle between Grand Central and Times Square. It was briefly in the news a few months back when the train cars were decorated with hybrid American and Imperial Japanese/Third Reich imagery to publicize the TV series “The Man In The High Castle.” People, being wonderful creatures, didn’t get the ads, and whined loud enough that even politicians chimed in on what was clearly a pressing matter.

Yesterday, as I rushed to board a shuttle on my way to an appointment, I saw that Brooks Brothers had taken the train over and covered the seats with blue university stripes and the walls with advertisements, most of them touting their newly relaunched oxford-cloth buttondowns, which, according to reports, are selling quite well.

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No word yet on whether devotees of fused shirt collars have written to the Metropolitan Transit Authority demanding immediate and decisive action. — DCG

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9 Comments on "Take The B Train"

  1. Glad to see Brooks getting their name out there, and happy to hear the new-old shirt is selling well.

  2. I had noticed on the BB website that the new OCBD was sold out or on backorder pretty soon after its release. This is in really dramatic contradiction to the really negative reaction the shirt’s redesign and new price received here and on AAAT, which many saying they would “never” buy the new shirt.

    I now have to wonder whether participants in the online “trad” world are entirely unrepresentative of actual clothes buyers. All the thrifting and second hand ebay stuff had made me suspect that before, as had the doctrinaire, rigid take on clothes, which is not what I wear or see others wearing in the “Acela corridor” where I sometimes reside.

  3. Taliesen writes: “I now have to wonder whether participants in the online “trad” world are entirely unrepresentative of actual clothes buyers.”

    Yes! And proud of it. 🙂 BTW, despite contrary rumors, there is an entire country outside the “Acela corridor”.

    I think many of us are more flexible/eclectic than you might imagine and actually more likely to frequent O’Connell’s, Mercer, et al than thrift shops and Ebay.

    I admit, for instance, to being OK with a few no-iron items (is admitting the sin the first step to recovery?).

    And I don’t have a dog in the non-fused collar fight as I haven’t worn a tie in maybe ten years as doing so would look absurd in a Western mountain town. In that vein I note the owner of Mercer & Sons seems to have decamped from Maine for Bozeman, MT, home to totally non-Ivy Montana State U.

  4. Some comments about “The Shirt” deduced from the BB web site:

    1) Who puts shirts that are “selling quite well” on 30% discount (when you buy four) as they are today?

    Seems you’re simply conditioning customers to wait for “sales” which I guess is now the norm for stores that cater to mall rats, who are, sadly, far more numerous than Ivy-Style posters.

    2) The customer comments are fascinating:

    Many buyers who rate the shirts highly nevertheless bemoan the lack of a pocket as do most who pan the shirt. Interpretation: we want trad but not TOO trad.

    There seems to be a LARGE standard deviation among commenters: love them or hate them.

    Several bemoan what they claim is thinner fabric (haven’t seen one myself and BB doesn’t provide fabric weights).

    Nobody seems to care about – or perhaps even recognize – the absurd inaccuracy of describing classic oxford cloth university stripes as Bengal stripes, the latter always being broadcloth of course.

    Most amusing of all is the split between those who a) insist the new shirt is NOTHING like the traditional BB OCBD’s they used love and buy by the dozen and b) those who insist the new shirt is EXACTLY like the traditional BB OCBD’s they used to love and buy by the dozen.

    CC: this is all so confusing. Please assign one of your excellent content minions to do a side-by-side comparison of non-fused BB, O’Connell, Mercer and Michael Spencer OCBDs. What are the differences, fabric weights, post-laundry characteristics, etc., and where is the (relative) value? Fogies young and old want to know although the cool kids in the Acela apparently don’t care.

  5. I know Ivy Style doesn’t typically do product reviews or comparisons – but I would be very interested in getting CC or Richard’s take on the market’s current OCBD offering.

  6. One might not see many passengers on an Acela train wearing Preppy, Ivy, or Trad styles, but the Parlor Cars on the Congressional or the Merchants Limited were filled with people wearing Preppy, Ivy, or Trad and who didn’t need one shirt pocket because their vests had four pockets.

    (Full Disclosure: I have never been on an Acela train. The last time that I was in Washington DC, New York City, or New Haven was in 1968, which was also the last time that I rode in a Pennsylvania Railroad or New Haven Railroad Parlor Car.)

  7. I recently purchased one of the current OCBD Brooks offerings and was sorely disappointed–not at all in the buttons, unlined collar/plackets/cuffs, gussets, etc.–but more in the poor quality control. Specifically, there were too numerous to count loose/untrimmed threads, an approx. 1 cm. fabric defect in the back, and an improperly sewn bottom hem unraveling. I indicated same in my reviewer’s comments. I was particularly disappointed as I have 10 or so older Garland OCBD shirts that had none of these issues. It was my feeling that in ?rush to production that perhaps quality control had suffered. The shirt itself was otherwise quite nice–perhaps not at all worth the price differential vs. the older lined, plastic button, non-gusseted version.

  8. I’m about to put my new shirt on to take for its first spin.

    And FYI we’ll soon be able to discuss this topic ad nauseum: I was recently interviewed by a major media outlet about the new/old Brooks shirt and the story is do out in a week or so. Of course we’ll post it.

    Daniel is the most nuts-and-bolts/omnivore/geek, so he should do a roundup of all the current OCBDs and their various merits.

    We were actually knocking this around a few months ago, and how we should put together a handy chart.

  9. Assuming that BB introduced the new OBD, at least partially, to appeal to the remaining Ivy purists that it has otherwise abandoned, it’s incomprehensible that they do not offer the shirt in the Traditional Fit, only slimmer cuts.

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