The Dye Is Cast

Does anyone remember the movie where a character says to another, “We seem to have passed that point where life stops giving and starts taking away.”

In what in the big picture is a necessary cosmic correction for our consumer-based society, two more major retailers with trad connections have filed for bankruptcy. Both of them — Jos. A Bank and Lord & Taylor — played a role in popularizing Ivy and preppy items over the years.

But, to make a madras-based pun, one could say the dye is cast. — CC

9 Comments on "The Dye Is Cast"

  1. Orange Fiji | August 4, 2020 at 2:30 pm |

    Jos A Bank ceased being a prep/ivy brand a long time ago

  2. As the saying goes:

    Bad times make strong men
    Strong men make good times…

    I just wish I could fast-forward past the Iron Age to the age of gold that lies ahead.

  3. Jos A. Bank died a slow death, finally committed suicide, with its ridiculously low prices up to about a year ago. Suits well under $100 one day, “regular” prices $400 and up the next. Joe literally gave clothes and accessories away, when the sale prices were in effect. I used to browse online to get OCBDs and khakis for around $20 each. Bow ties for $5. Decent quality for cheap. I even bought a traditional seersucker suit about 4 years ago for $79, ticketed $595. Don’t know whether it was worth %595, but certainly worth $79. J. Press doesn’t cheapen its image like that. In the last year Bank sale prices are more realistic. I haven’t bought anything from them since.

    No one is going to buy full retail, or even realistic sale prices when such marketing ruined the upscale image. Same thing happened with the Kaufmann’s department stores in the Pittsburgh area. 80% off sales galore. Bought by Macys several years ago, most Pittsburgh stores are now closed.

    In today’s era, even without Corona virus, tailored clothing is dead. Most young people haven’t even seen a sport coat or suit in person. My neighbor’s 16 year old daughter sewed a college patch on my old 1990’s HSM blazer, and her 12 year old brother exclaimed how beautiful that jacket was. He even asked me if the polished buttons were real gold. Of course, I told him no. He was really enthralled by that coat.

    Maybe, there’s some glimmer of hope.

  4. This is tragic only for the men and women who worked for these companies, and, now confronted with this loss, face the uncertainties that accompany the so-called “creative destruction” for which capitalism is known. The clothing was cheaply made, using sub-par fabric. By people who were underpaid. Whatever Jos. A Bank was once upon a time, its demise was already a fact.

  5. I do remember Jos. Bank “once upon a time.” It was 1984, and the bank in which I had just started my career had some accountants or consultants in from Ernst & Young (Ernst & Whinney back then.) One of the younger ones stood out for looking especially well dressed. I thought he was clad all in Brooks Brothers but I found out–by seeing the label on his jackets hung on the back of his chair–that he got his suits at Jos. A. Bank. I remember he had both khaki and olive poplin suits, with all the correct Ivy details: 3-button rollover, two buttons on the sleeves, full cuffs on the pants, etc. I bought a Bank suit at their local store two or three years later, but even to my uneducated eye I could tell they had been cheapened.

  6. A purge isn’t always a bad thing. Indeed, sometimes it’s a very good thing. What is it Jesus said about separating the wheat from the chaff? If every clothing store, shop, and outlet on the planet disappeared and we were left with nothing but the American shirt makers, pant makers, and suit/jacket makers– shouldn’t we be delighted with such an outcome?

    Because of this pandemic, planet earth is healthier (less polluted) than it’s been in decades, we’ve realized the Keynesian economics is superior to neoliberalism; and, more trivial but still important, lots of poorly made “junk” has gone the way of the wind. Death is a natural, organic part of life–the elements return to the earth to nourish and feed living things. The good, worthwhile things live in our memories, and, as we pass them along to children and grandchildren, the memories of generations to follow.

    Plenty of good stuff–here and now. A ‘new’ entity will soon offer natural shoulder clothing that rivals the Southwick of old and American manufacturing hasn’t breathed its last breath yet.

    And there’s Alden, Rancourt, and Quoddy.

    And now we can buy USA-made/woven cloth (including Shetland tweeds, flannels, Cavalry twills, moleskin, etc.) that rivals anything a British mill offers.

    Buy American.

  7. Charlottesville | August 5, 2020 at 11:21 am |

    Don – I remember the affordable Ivy style that J.A. Bank offered in the early to mid 80s, and they were my source when I was a student before I could afford BB and J. Press. I still have a Harris Tweed 3/2 sack sport coat from the era that is as good as new. As you and others have noted, they declined rapidly after that, and as S.E. says, the only real tragedy at this point is the loss of jobs for their employees.

    Long live J. Press! I am wearing my new navy seersucker suit today for the first time, purchased at the semi-annual sale for 25% off.

  8. Two of my most ‘Trad’ jackets are Jos A Bank Purple label. One is a Navy Flannel 3/2 Sack Blazer and the other is Patchwork Madras, 3/2 sack.

    BB is getting as bad as JAB with the ‘Buy X and take Y % off’ sales.

  9. S.E. – Great post and full of amazing companies who are all doing it right here in the USA. Thanks for the post and the links.

    Buy American!

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