Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported on a new Golden Fleece collection from Brooks Brothers meant to be modern and casual. I know what you’re thinking: isn’t that what Red Fleece is supposed to be?
Apparently, Golden will be kind of like Red’s uncle.
Writes Ray A. Smith of the Journal:
The 198-year old clothier this month will begin carrying a line of high-end sportswear that includes sweaters, casual jackets, buttoned sport shirts and slacks under the label Golden Fleece Collection. The collection is aimed at men who want to dress casually in a polished way, whether off-the-clock or in an office with a business casual dress code.
The new collection will also include suits and tailored pieces, but they will be lighter and less structured than its other suits.
In addition to the emphasis on sportswear and a lighter feel, the Brooks Brothers line will also feature technical attributes such as 3-D knitting on seamless sweaters, washable wool button-down shirts that have the look and feel of cotton rather than flannel, seamless outerwear that is windproof and water-resistant, and pants with stretch.
The Golden Fleece Collection will cost about twice as much as what many Brooks Brothers customers are used to for its casual clothing. Prices for casual outerwear range from $1,098 to $1,798 compared with $498 to $998 in the retailer’s main line. Sport coats cost $1,498 compared with $498 to $998 in the main line.
Some of the line’s more formal looks also cost more. Dress shirts and dress trousers cost $225 and $448, versus $92 to $120 for shirts and $248 for pants in the main line. And suits in the Golden Fleece Collection cost $2,498 compared with $998 to $1,398 for suits in the main line.
That’s the nuts and bolts. Now for the lines that make your irony meter explode:
The new collection puts Brooks Brothers more in step with modern menswear after generations of men have its bought suits, button-down shirts and the iconic Repp ties.
Brooks Brothers doesn’t quickly jump on fashion trends, partly to avoid alienating longtime loyal clientele who can be fanatical about the brand.
The retailer gradually adopted trends like flat-front pants.
Now, a tailored sweatpant in the new collection, made of stretch wool jersey, is more elegant than sporty, Mr. Tanzi said. “We don’t want to change our tradition.”
To further the irony, it’s worth noting that Brooks Brothers’ legacy was already based on the seamless integration of casual and formal wardrobe items, and mixing casual items such as khakis and boat shoes with a blazer or tweed jacket, cotton crewneck, popped polo shirt or frayed oxford is the veritable formula of the Ivy League Look. This is the same approach to dressing but with an entirely different set of ingredients. Buon appetito! — CC