The Mistake Of Changing WHAT Is Worn In Pursuit Of New People To Wear It (Is That A Better Headline?)

Let’s unpack this because it is starting to hurt my feelings.

My central thesis about Brooks Brothers back when Mr. Bastian took the wheel was this:  What happens when a company is bought or sold is that it goes into debt.  If you don’t do this kind of thing regularly, that sounds counterintuitive.  If Nevada owns a company that is $5 in debt, and John buys the company for $7 with the proviso that Nevada use $5 out of the $7 to pay the debt, well, the debt is paid, and the  company is out of debt, right?   No, because I spent $7 to buy it, so now the company owes me $7.  Actually, it owes me $8, because I didn’t buy the company not to lose, I bought it to make money.  And this debt has no cap, because I am never going to call it even.  Once I get $8, I am not going to say, “Ok, that was a good run, I don’t need any more money.”

So Brooks, which has been down that road a few times, is as much in the debt service business as it is in the clothing business.  What happens when you are in debt service and not clothing?  The debt gets serviced, and the clothing suffers.  Which, judging from the notes on my piece a few days back, is fairly well acknowledged in this group.

Bastian, who knows he has an open invite here to respond, came out smartly.  He fished with the biggest net.  He said he was going back to Brooks’ roots, and some well-meaning folks in here believed that was a good idea.  He then released his first album, reviewed here as well, which was anything but root-oriented.  Then he took a few good pictures of himself in some trad clothing, then embarked on a year of exploratory Ivy surgery.  Trying to see what would stick to the wall while 80 cents of every dollar (I am making that number up but you take my point) goes to the folks who bought Brooks and hired Bastian in the first place.

What could go wrong?  Flower-print cargo pants is what.  But ok, even that, hey, if you can reinvent yourself and find a way to survive, I am all for it.  But now, Brooks has taken the final step off the ledge.  Self parody.

 

 

Let’s play that game where you see a picture and have to find all the things hidden in it. I’ll go first.

 

Here’s the flip side, you are gonna need this to find all the hidden messages here.

What’s the first thing you find?  Here’s a hint.  It is in the headline.

Well, which is it? Because on the second image, wait, here, I will show you…

 

Let’s see, I have, regular, Regent, and standard all alongside cut close to the body on the sleeves (for your ripped biceps of course) and neck (it CAN be cut close on the neck because no one with gravitas is gonna wear a tie with it).

So this shirt in terms of cut is all over the map, and the body.  That’s okay.  It’s an imitation.  After all, they say themselves that it is imitated.

 

There are other hidden thing here.  Look at the button placement on the collar and the way the tie is knotted.

 

I remember in high school once we had this assembly where we were first exposed to the idea of subliminal messaging. One of the illustrations was an ice cube with the word SEX written on it if you squinted. Same trick here. Know what words I see when I squint at this? “Wink wink we know you are never gonna wear a tie with this modernized bicep-loving oxford so we made the collar too contemporary and knotted the tie with less precision than you do your boat shoes.”

 

Finally, there is the insult of the price.  They are asking $198.  Which is fine by me.  Charge what you want.  I was never one of those people who thought basketball players were over-compensated.  If the market will bear it, you are entitled to it.   But then, this:

 

“I’m not a smart man Jenny, but I know what love is.”

So this shirt is 20% off if I borrow the money?   There is a way that makes sense.  But you ain’t gonna like it.  The way it makes sense is that they know that once you get the card, you are gonna pay more than the 20% in interest, and you are going to buy more because it’s… credit. That also means that extra 20% you pay if you don’t get a card?  That’s a fee for not letting them lend you money.

I have people who my life who live in a bigger house than they can afford, and the house comes with the disclaimer, “They must make more than you think they do, John,”  and the answer is “Never mistake the acquisition of debt for the accumulation of wealth.”

This is not a tactic that is the sole purview of Brooks, of course.  It is part of what is wrong with much of the industry, with much of a lot of industries.  Companies realize they can make more money with the card you use to buy their product than they can with the product itself.  So they focus on the card instead of the product.

But in the case of Brooks, this is icing on the cake.  What they have done here is try to contemporize a classic (you can’t) but sell it as the original model.  And they are doing this across the board.  Compromising what brought you to the table in the hopes of staying at the table.  This has never worked, not once.  There are models where products are updated, certainly.  But that is not done in the name of debt service or survival.  And they are sold as updates.  What you have here is all the whatever you can throw on the wall, maybe some sticks.

I used to love Brooks, and I am very grateful to companies like J. Press, Andover, Mercer, etc. for staying the course and being mindful of scale.   But now Brooks is the woman I broke up with who I just saw at dinner and she got a bad boob job.

Is there a way out for Brooks, which in the notes on these columns has been called “irrelevant” and “why are we even talking about Brooks anymore”?   Yes, there is.

  1.  Consolidate your retail even further.  You have done a good job of that, but keep going.
  2. Understand the sales cycle better.  Do you think a 24 year old who has never worn an OCBD is going to wander into giant retail store and be so awed by the architecture that they buy 3?  No.  In fact, they won’t even wander into the retail store, because you haven’t sold them on the lifestyle.  Sell the lifestyle first.
  3. Authenticity works.  If you are going to try to be all things to all people you are gonna fail, but if you are going to go down, at least do it with integrity.  Better yet, don’t do it at all.  Instead of saying you are going back to basics and then never doing it, actually do it.  The only differentiator that you have is your tradition and classicism.  And even those are on life support.  But we love a comeback.

… yes, that’s right.  We love a comeback.  But you have to come back.

 

71 Comments on "The Mistake Of Changing WHAT Is Worn In Pursuit Of New People To Wear It (Is That A Better Headline?)"

  1. The boob job analogy is the best, most focused thing you’ve written in your tenure here, John.

    It seems to me that the unspoken, between-the-lines reality of your three-step “way out” for an organization in Brooks’ position is to become comfortable with the idea of getting and staying smaller. But nobody ever wants to admit that.

    Being “mindful of scale” when you’re Press, Mercer, O’Connell’s, etc., is to be able to market your authenticity because you actually have it. Acknowledging that achieving your correct scale requires you to *become* smaller, however, might as well be declaring yourself a communist in 21st century America. Growth, and over-leverage, and even an active bankruptcy (which Brooks is still in, btw), shows that you’re a real ‘go-getter’, I guess. Although killing the golden goose (fleece?) and cashing out seems very un-Ivy to me.

  2. Frederick J Johnson | July 13, 2022 at 10:39 am | Reply

    In my opinion, your best column to date, thanks.

  3. G. Ellery Cobbold | July 13, 2022 at 11:33 am | Reply

    “Loss of pride in the product, and loss of time taken with the product increased in direct proportion to the desire for production; and thus moonshining as a fine art was buried in a quiet little ceremony attended only by those mourners who had once been…known far and wide across the hills for the excellence of their product.” –‘Moonshining as a Fine Art’

    Brooks killed its OCBD. Now it’s selling a zombified version for nearly $200. That would be funny if it weren’t so sad. They can’t even stitch on the collar buttons so that one is even with the other.

    A solid blue Mercer & Sons OCBD is $185. 25% less than that for new customers.

  4. Brooks Brother’s conundrum boils down to brand identity and marketing.

    In trying to be all things to all people, they end up alienating everyone.

    There is a marketing phrase, “sell the sizzle, not the steak.” John hits the nail on the head when he says that what a fashion company sells is not the product but the lifestyle. Many of the most successful fashion brands (e.g. Polo) are “aspirational.”

    Aspirational brands appeal to the dreams and desires of young social media influencers and ambitious up-and-comers.

    Unfortunately, Brooks Brothers has failed to create the buzz, hype, and media attention necessary to appeal to younger guys.

    Michael Bastian has the opportunity to reach a large audience of very knowledgeable, witty, and socially gracious fashionistas, but he continues to snub John’s requests to appear on Ivy Style.

  5. Richard E. Press | July 13, 2022 at 1:05 pm | Reply

    Touché

  6. Terrific analysis. It was fun playing the game of seeing what problems I could find on Brooks’ page before you broke them all down, too.

    Another problem with Brooks: they stopped selling girls’ clothes! I won’t buy a shirt for myself from BB, but was happy to outfit my nine year old in their clothes. She doesn’t care if the clothes aren’t high quality – they just have to last a year or two in her case – and the frequent sales were nice too. I realize this probably reads like “… snd such small portions!” but to me it truly is one additional mail in their GTH coffin.

  7. Brooks switched to the Regent as the baseline fit several years ago, before the pandemic, before the selling of its factories, etc. Soho and Milano are the slimmer cuts, and Madison and Traditional are the fuller cuts. Regent’s in the middle. Alas, it seems likely we’ll never again see BB offer MiUSA OCBDs in individual collar and sleeve sizes in all five fits, like it did only a few years ago.

    I agree that the button placement on the collar looks strange, and also agree with the suspicion that this is to facilitate going tieless.

    As far as the price goes, no one pays full retail at BB. The effective price of those shirts is around $150 or $160, thru either buying three at once, waiting for one of the every-three-week sales, or something like that.

    To me, the saddest “hidden message” in the picture is the boast that the shirts are “crafted in Garland, North Carolina.” I’m glad the Garland Shirt Factory is back in business, but it seems really diminished for BB to have to order shirts from a place it used to own.

  8. Arthur McLean | July 13, 2022 at 2:30 pm | Reply

    Intensely dislike the names BB gave it’s product line. What the Hell does Milano mean? Madison? Fitzgerald? Never can remember; don’t really need to since they closed the only store (Dallas) near me. Glad my son has a “polo shirt” job so we don’t have to deal with the BB disaster.

  9. I had an aneurysm trying to decipher the headline to this article but I otherwise agree that Brooks is in lousy shape.

  10. By far your best column.
    I can’t add anything else.
    Except I did notice the word in the copy “reimangined” and thought that was laughable.
    Of course it’s reimangined it not the real deal!
    Great work John. They need to be called out!

  11. I am so old I’ll date myself here. But I remember when Avon bought Brooks. I thought that was the end game. But not. Avon respected the brand.

  12. HELL YEAH, JB. Great piece. Keep at it, sir.

    “Acknowledging that achieving your correct scale requires you to ‘become’ smaller, however, might as well be declaring yourself a communist in 21st century America…” So true.

    Here’s the thing about Brooks: this is nothing new. BB’s downward spiral began many decades ago. Take a look at a 1970s/80s catalog and inhale. Smell that? Yucky, right? It’s called polyester.

    Yes and sure, there was (still) plenty of good stuff alongside the synthetic-fibered blazers and pants: shoes by Alden, custom tweeds by Greenfield, and some Southwick off-the-rack. And yep, the “Paterson, NJ OCBD” was a work of art that David Mercer, God bless him, still hasn’t replicated perfectly. I still own (and wear) a few, even if they’ve been relegated to Saturday afternoon, cut-the-grass and run-a-few-errands shirts. They are– well. Nobody’s come close. (Again, with a respectful salute to David Mercer).

    As recently as the late 1990s, there were signs of hope. Reasons for optimism.

    More than a few retail shop (“men’s store”) owners insist that Brooks’ quality was not, going back to the 1950s, on par with their inventories, which included Linett, Southwick (Grieco Bros.), Hickey Freeman, Hertling, Alden, Pantherella, Troy Guild, and Norman Hilton. Which is to say: like a a lot of brands, the loyalty had more to do with memories (nostalgia) than actual quality. Before we rush to a defense of Reagan era Brooks: this may not be hyperbolic. Truth? I’ve yet to own and wear anything made by Brooks (going back forty years) that was superior to what I found at the campus shops in my world. I always, always preferred the local men’s stores.

    Mr. Press and others have shed plenty of light on the legends and mythologies of old, yesteryear Brooks. I wasn’t “present at the creation” (Thanks, Dean Acheson) so I can’t say. By the time I was ready-and-eager for shetland, oxford cloth, and worsted flannel, I regarded the vibe as totally-and-thoroughly collegiate. We didn’t call it “preppy” or “Ivy.” We overheard “natural shoulder” on occasion, but “Joe College” and “collegiate” were the routinely used phrases. As in, “JB looks very ‘Joe College” in that glen check jacket and gray flannel bottoms!”

    Authenticity is key, as is the willingness to keep an operation modest. The economics of scale is a confusing subject for people who’ve been studying and teaching economics for decades. It’s still a bit of mystery how an enterprise can achieve long-term success by increasing production and lowering costs simultaneously. What happens when costs are spread over a larger number of (the production of) goods? “It depends” is an honest answer.

    Cheers.

    • THANK YOU so much. You make tremendous points. Just to keep the discussion going. Costs do get spread out a little as production increases, but there are so many mitigating factors that it doesn’t roll out the way you think it would. For example. You add another 1,000 (I am making that number up) shirts to your production order. The factory now adds labor, you are holding inventory and or making concessions for new markets, the cash flow is impeded… and so forth. And do not forget debt. That money for the extra shirts? Unless you have it laying around, you are borrowing it. The trick is to grow the market S-L-O-W-L-Y. Tesla has had the model emergent rollout, follow their lead. You are 7,026% right about being willing to be modest. The point of diminishing returns. Is it better to make $50 on 10 shirts or $25 on 21 shirts?

  13. They used to say businesses needed to grow or die. Now, it appears it’s grow and die. J. Press, Andover Shop and O’Connells stayed alive by staying small — and true to their customers.

    PS I had to read that headline a few times too, and I’m still unsure I get it. But I don’t think I’ve had an aneu

  14. I was cautiously optimistic when Michael Bastian took over because he’s a very smart guy but this is very disappointing. It’s bad enough that the shirt has essentially doubled in price over the last half dozen years (in addition to the 30% increase over the past year) but now it seems they’re not even using Supima cotton. Also no mention of whether or not the collars and cuffs are unlined. Nope!

    • All that being said, if these shirts are still being made with unlined collars and the fabric is a sturdy Supima cotton (which I’m guessing not), the current promotion (25% off for three shirts, with an additional 15% at checkout) is a very reasonable price of $126 and change before tax per shirt. But that’s only if all of the caveats I’ve mentioned above are addressed, which they are probably not.

      Guessing someone will get their hands on one of these and do a review at some point, which I’d love to read, but all signs point to this being the latest in a long series of disappointments from BB.

  15. Charlottesville | July 13, 2022 at 8:46 pm | Reply

    Excellent post, J.B. Our old buddy whiskeydent is correct. But for the crushing debt and the overexpansion that went with it, BB possibly could have whittled down to a few stores in its major markets, kept the flagship on Madison, sent out seasonal catalogs, and produced something like its classic American clothing. Instead it became a mall brand with no real identity, and now is basically selling overpriced and ill-fitting junk.

    I’m glad that I got to know it before its final descent. I bought most of my Brooks clothing in the L Street store in Washington and the flagship in NY at the end of the Garfinkle’s ownership and the early M&S years, when a number of the solid classics were still available, not to mention the knowledgeable sales staff, particularly Tom Davis at the custom shirt desk on Madison at 44th. I switched allegiance to J. Press sometime in the 90s, and the few new suits, etc. that I have bought since then have come from Press.

    However, the old BB stuff lasts forever. I still wear a suit for work several times a week, and today it was a 30-year-old tan poplin 3/2 sack with a button down and repp stripe tie, all from Brooks. The outfit still looks like a million bucks, even if I don’t.

  16. I’m looking at a couple of (the legendary) “Paterson, NJ oxfords” (PNJOCBDs) right now. Dear Lord in St. Michael’s heaven, they’re just — well, superlative. The details matter, especially with shirts. How did factory tailors achieved this collar? I’ll chalk it up to years of repetition that led to a kind-of rhythm. I sent it to Skip Gambert and Individualized for copying: neither were 100% successful.

    The Garland oxfords were so-so. Not great.

    The most impressive replica I’ve seen? Bob Prenner’s (Ben Silver) “Beefy Oxford” circa the 1990s.

    • I don’t understand why or how reverse engineering a dang shirt collar could be so confounding. Perhaps the source of the cotton is the key variable. Last time I was in Garland, eight or ten years ago, it was surrounded by acres and acres of fallow cotton fields. Farmers subsidized not to plant?

  17. Fletcher Millington | July 14, 2022 at 12:34 am | Reply

    Could somebody please explain to me why Gambert, Individualized, Mercer, etc. cannot duplicate one of the superlative BB OCBDs that we remember, while a half-blind tailor in Hong Kong or Pakistan can do it down to the last millimeter?

  18. Fletcher Millington | July 14, 2022 at 12:37 am | Reply

    Thanks, John, for touching up the headline. I was beginning to doubt my powers of comprehension.

  19. I’d be delighted to go into business with you JB, but given my head for business, it’d probably be a losing bet. Stellar column today.
    Customer base disillusionment is but one of the disastrous effects of private equity on heritage brands. I’m still quietly rooting for Brooks Brothers and do believe Michael Bastian has a better vision than what corporate is allowing him to pursue. He’s put forth a few winners, in my view, but you really have to dig for them.
    Some of the classic BB stripe ties are back, so there’s something… I guess. It is interesting to see other shops and makers swoop in to fill the void so effectively.

  20. Regent fit is NOT cut “close to the body”. I would describe regent fit as “regular”, as it’s neither slim, nor full, and should fit most people well. I’m not at all into slim clothing, but voluminous shirts are unattractive on most men. A well-balanced, moderate silhouette is what we all want, don’t we?
    The collar role is difficult to judge by this photo.
    The price is obnoxious, and I doubt it will ever be offered at more than 40% off. Even $140 felt like too much, but on sale you could buy it for around $80.
    All that being said, at least they’ve brought it back.
    For those who want the classic OCBD for half the price, go to Proper Cloth, and commission a custom shirt in exactly the size and shape you like. They offer unlined collars and anything your heart may desire.

    • Thank you for pointing this out. I would say Regent is “slim” only compared to the voluminous fits you mentioned above, which are not really very flattering for most, at least to my eye. I would wager that Regent was probably their best seller and probably the best bet for a middle-of-the-road shirt that would appeal to the largest number of people, if the goal was to have one “true” classic Brooks Brothers shirt. The idea that the go-to shirt should fit like a tent on most people simply runs counter to almost everything else in the marketplace these days. Regent (let’s just call it “regular” perhaps) is generally speaking a fine fit and by far the least of my complaints about what Brooks Brothers is doing with the shirt.

      • Most of my dress shirts are BB, and all of those are Regent. I am an average sized guy and they are slightly baggy on me. If you go to most stores that do not carry a bunch of different “fits”, you will basically be buying the equivalent of a Regent.

        I now have enough shirts to last probably 5 years, but if I run into a little extra cash I will give Press a try. Did not like the most recent Alpha sized BB OCBD or the $140 one. Loved the $94 one but that is history.

        Cheers!

    • I am not following. (1) “Close to the body” is their wording. They would know, right? (2) There probably isn’t anything we “all want,” (3) They didn’t bring it back, this is an imitation, and (4) no knock on Proper Cloth but their oxfords are $150 which… hang on, I am doing the math… yep, that’s half of $300. I don’t know what they are willing to do for custom, but I bet it isn’t $90, which is… more math… half of $180. And their collar spread and button placement are suspect.

      • You are correct that it’s described that way, and that Regent was previously described as their “slim fit” but that’s really only “slim” compared to the Traditional fit of old. It’s not really all that slim compared to a lot of what the public is wearing these days. It’s right down the middle of the road. Remember that when they had most recently had five fits fort each shirt that the Regent fit was right down the middle. I can certainly understand more “Traditional” folks being disappointed, which is entirely reasonable, but walk around any mid-sized town or city and you will see that people are generally wearing shirts that are a lot closer to Regent than Traditional.

        I’m of the mind that they are course correcting a bit too much and they would probably be wise to continue offering two fits: a Regular Fit for heyday folks and a Slim Fit for everyone else. This is how they did it back before they went down the Extra Slim road years ago, and I think it still makes sense. But Brooks Brothers knows their sales figures better than we do so perhaps there is something else at play here.

        As for competitors, you can actually get a custom made Proper Cloth shirt in Heavy Oxford cloth and a classic fit for $85, with a $10 surcharge if. you want Mother of Pearl buttons or a monogram. And you can still get one from Mercer that’s almost certainly better quality for a little less money at $185. There are still options out there that are almost certainly a better value than this Brooks Brothers shirt so there are plenty of reasons to go elsewhere.

        • I find that the roll on the Proper Cloth Soft Ivy Button Down is pretty good—and perfectly acceptable given that you get to precisely dial in the fit and other details of the shirt. Sure, there are probably better rolls out there, and more power to you if the rest of the shirt fits as you want it to.

  21. I really wonder whether IT and Rex have come to the wrong site.

  22. @Fletcher Millington

    I’m not sure which maker/manufacturer/tailor you’re referring to. I’ve yet to see an exact replica of the older Brooks ocbd “down to the last millimeter.” This includes New England Shirt Co., Tom Davis’ attempts during his Brooks tenure, and the O’ Connell’s made-by-Gitman Bros. version.

    @ Nevada

    “Customer base disillusionment is but one of the disastrous effects of private equity on heritage brands.”

    Yep.

    @ C-Ville

    “BB possibly could have whittled down to a few stores in its major markets, kept the flagship on Madison, sent out seasonal catalogs, and produced something like its classic American clothing. Instead it became a mall brand with no real identity, and now is basically selling overpriced and ill-fitting junk.”

    Yep.

  23. JB,
    it might be interesting to explore the nature of this style in a larger cultural context– who choose this style and why.

    If it’s true that one group is the suburban preppy family who, eager for Nantucket July’s and August in Bermuda, favors Vineyard Vines and J. Crew and couldn’t care less about details like ocbd collar roll or the weight of shetland tweed, then BB not only has a future, but a fairly bright one–as a “mall store that sells crap” to, for instance, Syracuse alumni who work the equity desks at JP Morgan Chase and their country clubbing, prep schooling kids in Darien, Old Greenwich, and Scarsdale. Know what I mean? Guessing so.

    But what about that other bunch? Them. The Trads. {gasp}. They take this stuff (traditional, well tailored clothing) SERIOUSLY, and, obsessive to the point of compulsive and even fanatical, want not only the best, but the best according to standards set decades ago. For this crowd, there’s something almost philosophical at work. An idealistic (moralistic?) commitment to clothes as an extension of manners.

    From a distance, they look similar. A lot alike. But one will buy the crappy Brooks oxfords in a New York minute, whereas the other will find two dozen reasons to complain about it in the larger context of “Everything’s going to hell” cultural decline.

    • “For this crowd, there’s something almost philosophical at work. An idealistic (moralistic?) commitment to clothes as an extension of manners.”

      You hit the nail on the head, I think. One of the unfortunate aspects of the Ivy/Trad community (not at all limited to this community) is that there always seems to be a cadre of purists that equate the older/heyday style of clothing with character. Kudos to JB for removing them, but earlier today I noticed several comments implying that people who wear slim fits are “narcissists” or “gay” which underscored every tired, but apparently still somewhat true, stereotype about Ivy League people being exclusionary and elitist.

      “From a distance, they look similar. A lot alike. But one will buy the crappy Brooks oxfords in a New York minute, whereas the other will find two dozen reasons to complain about it in the larger context of “Everything’s going to hell” cultural decline.”

      Yup! To further elaborate upon what I said above, I think a lot of the latter are perhaps drawn to “Ivy Style” and traditional clothing because it’s a “safe space” for them to complain about the youth of today and whatnot. As much as we may want to believe that Ivy represents values, a lot of those values can be pretty darn reactionary and not welcoming to others. Which makes some sense in that the Ivy League has always been inherently exclusionary, at least as far as admission rates go, but one doesn’t have to be a jerk about it.

      I would argue is also something almost un-American about such attitudes. You know the old trope of “Slobs vs Snobs” that you’ve seen time and time again in movies like Animal House, Caddyshack, etc. with the Traditionalists, with all of their pronouncements about how things should be done “properly”? Those guys are always the villains.

      Dress however you want but don’t make the mistake of thinking that it makes you a better person.

      • I am with you on opening the doors WIDE open – but please do show me any reference here derogatory to “gay” so I can delete it immediately. THANKS

        • Thankfully those sorts of comments are few and far between but it’s clear that some people at least think that way, even if they don’t say it out loud.

          I am not flagging this comment below from Philly Trad for removal because I don’t think it’s out of bounds but it’s interesting that simply mentioning that some people prefer a more fitted look means…that I’m not supposed to be here? I could understand if maybe I was demanding more posts about sweatpants or something but acting like I’m the oddball because I prefer a tailored look is just such an outdated way of thinking:

          http://www.ivy-style.com/the-error-of-changing-what-is-worn-in-pursuit-of-new-who-you-want-to-wear-it.html#comment-1582642

          People are more than welcome to cling to whatever dying ideas they wish but the idea of Ivy Style as a safe space for traditionalists is so boring to me.

          • Gotcha. And as you say, I have eaten a lot of S for opening the doors up a bit. That said, we (you and I) also have to be careful that we aren’t bringing our own baggage to the table. As wrong as it is to hold these beliefs that trad is exclusive, or even designed for, any one group, it is equally mistaken to assume we know what people are thinking when they aren’t saying it.

          • Rex,
            Would you object to a description of the Ivy spectrum as going from gray ivy to fay ivy?

            fay in British English

            verb
            to fit or be fitted closely or tightly

      • “Dress however you want but don’t make the mistake of thinking that it makes you a better person.” Really appreciate seeing your perspective here Rex, and couldn’t agree more.

  24. * It’s worth noting that the first bunch are retailers’ dream-come-true: they buy Audis, RR’s, and Beemers without negotiating the price, give Whole Foods board members reason to smile, and will spend gobs on stuff like fly fishing guides without blinking. And they’ll spend $200 for a blue button down shirt because “ya know, it’s Brooks Brothers.” They comprise the majority of every active waiting list for every Submariner and GMT, which they pair (without irony) with Vineyard Vines “flip flops.”

    They are buying the Brooks OCBDs.

  25. Charlottesville | July 14, 2022 at 8:54 am | Reply

    Just a word for Ratio Clothing in Denver, which does custom OCBDs (with unlined collars as an option) in whatever fit one desires, down to the half inch for body size. All for at little as $79 depending on color and fabric. Their internet site is easy to use and offers a choice of collars, including a 3.5″ button down with a great roll. They suggest a size based on their internal algorithm as applied to each individual’s preferences, but it can be adjusted by the customer. Length for each sleeve, pocket or no (with or without a flap), back button on collar, etc. are all up to you. I have no financial or other interest in the company, but have found the quality and service to be excellent, at least as recently as two years ago. I believe that they were made in the USA, but I don’t know whether that is still the case.

    I also am pleased with the J. Press OCBD that I bought recently, although it has a soft, unfused interlayer of cotton oxford cloth in the collar, which may trouble purists. It still rolls well and looks great, in my opinion.

  26. @Charlottesville: it’s been a long time since I’ve seen you on the site. Was thinking of you recently: a few weekends ago, I had my first opportunity to visit your fair city; stayed at the Oakhurst Inn; had the duck at C&O; and attended the 10:00 service at St. Paul’s. I’d have rung you up for a drink if I’d known your real name! Hope you’re well.

  27. The Amazing Tom | July 14, 2022 at 11:59 am | Reply

    BB will sell lots of these shirts as there are lots of BB shirt fans. The BB brand is worth a lot regardless of how the legacy is honored. I would love to be privy to the unit sales of these shirts.
    There is no question that Press offers a far superior value. I see a tremendous opportunity if Onward is willing to scale up a little.

  28. Charlottesville | July 14, 2022 at 1:35 pm | Reply

    Thanks for the note, John. Sorry to have missed you, Paul. I would love to have connected. I hope you enjoyed your visit. The C&O is a good choice and a local favorite going back to the 70s at least. Craig Claiborne wrote about it in the NY Times back in that era. Sounds like you may have been here for graduation or a similar UVA event, based on the locations. Our usual Sunday spot is the 7:45 service at Christ Episcopal near the downtown mall.

    I think JB might release top secret contact info if asked by a regular commenter, with my permission. Christian occasionally put me in touch with commenters who wanted to make off-line contact for one reason or another, and it has led to a couple of real friendships, as well as a drink with CC himself on one of my all-too-rare trips to NYC. There is an attorney with your specialty who is the managing partner in a firm with an office in your town, and I have wondered whether it might be you.

  29. Comical that they are selling a 200 dollar shirt when one can be had for less from Mercer and Sons.

  30. I am inspired — to order a few of O’ Connell’s “O’C Unlined&Unfused Oxford” shirts. Earlier today I noticed they’ve added a heavyweight oxford to the lineup. Bully for Traditionalists.

    https://oconnellsclothing.com/oc-unlined-unfused-heavyweight-oxford-cloth-button-down-shirt-white-bb-x3503-b-ocbd.html

    https://oconnellsclothing.com/oc-unlined-unfused-heavyweight-oxford-cloth-button-down-shirt-blue-bb-x3504-b-ocbd.html

    • G. Ellery Cobbold | July 15, 2022 at 1:46 pm | Reply

      You might want to think twice, S.E. I ordered a 16×34 unlined, unfused O’C OCBD a year and a half ago, and sent it right back. It was extremely short and shockingly trim, despite having been described as ‘full cut.’ The same is true, sadly, of O’C khakis. https://putthison.com/style-fashion-drawings-expectation-vs-reality/

      • NaturalShoulder | July 17, 2022 at 8:07 pm | Reply

        I have had a different experience with the O’Connell’s trouser cut and, khakis, specifically. My preference is for the longer rise generally one size up in the waist and I find the fit just about perfect for me. Definitely comfortable with plenty of room but not veering into baggy territory. I do realize that fit is subjective though.

  31. If corporations are only interested in generating profit, what have they to do with the values that Mr. Burton repeatedly lists as being “Ivy?” What interests me far more is: how has all of this business affected the workers in the Garland, NC factory? When BB pulled the plug several years ago, things seemed pretty dire for the shirt makers: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/business/article244297607.html

    Why shut down operations and then begin to offer US-made shirts again? Did this move allow BB to hire non-union labor? Is it cheaper for them somehow?

    • Re: The Garland factory, my guess is it was more scramble than strategy. They might be trying to scrape something of that connection back to appease all the miffed longtime customers, or, as you say, it’s more cynical at this point. Hard to say with private equity calling the shots.

  32. JB: is there any way that you can put myself and Charlottesville in touch offline?

    Thanks in advance.

  33. Fernand Samsa | July 15, 2022 at 10:59 am | Reply

    Lorem ipsum 123 789

  34. “The Mistake Of Changing WHAT Is Worn In Pursuit Of New People To Wear It (Is That A Better Headline?)”

    Lmao – this site RULES

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*