Muffy Aldrich of The Daily Prep has just put up a perspicacious analysis of 25 companies on her preppy radar. Included are many of Tradsville’s favorite clothiers: Brooks Brothers, J. Press, Ralph Lauren, Mercer & Sons, LL Bean, Alden and Bills Khakis.
Aldrich plots them on a line with small handcrafted startups like Kiel James Patrick on one end, and Eddie Bauer and Abercrombie & Fitch — two companies that bear no resemblance to their original selves — on the other. On one end are products made entirely in America, while on the other are products made entirely overseas.
Aldrich’s analysis is most interesting on those advanced, globalized companies once known for unquestionable quality and predictable merchandising — companies now at the Cash Grab stage of their development. At this point, writes Aldrich:
• There is significant confusion for traditional customers
• Some classics remain, but fewer
• There are wild fluctuations of price (higher prices, then massive sales)
• New products are low quality and relatively expensive
• The companies increasingly outsource production to low-cost providers
• They have giant PR budgets
• Customers start to experience return fatigue
• There is a big opportunity for management to personally cash in with a one-time windfall
Who is the prime example here? According to Aldrich, it’s LL Bean:
LL Bean is peering into the abyss. I can now only buy six items from LL Bean with any confidence: Norwegian Sweaters, Boat and Totes, Bean Boots, Chamois Shirts, Flannel Shirts and Ragg Socks. It is worth noting that none of these is made in China, and the socks, bags and boots are all US made.
Click here for the complete post. — CC