This, folks, is the collar of Paul Stuart’s new offering, the Oxford Non Iron Sports Shirt. That is what they call it. That is not what I call it. Tom Turner of our site emailed me this yesterday and we had a great talk about it (that man knows the business of ocbd’s better than those who are actually in the business, as an aside). The original thesis was the Paul Stuart is competing with Brooks Brothers now, and I will get to that for sure, but first. Let’s take a look at the shirt before we do the market analysis.
The roll on the collar = pretty good! Of course, they all do in the photos, but at least they acknowledge the roll, and that matters, right? The spread looks alright – too far and you walk into that dangerous oxford-one-might-wear-to-a-dance-club-if-in-fact-one-went-to-a-dance-club. It’s right on the edge. Like they went, but the bouncer wouldn’t let them in. Button placement on the collar is one of those things. Get it wrong and you are a $20 retail shirt. Get it right and you move up. Paul Stuart knows quality, so the buttons and stitching appear up to snuff. I have never seen one in real life, but since this is new, neither have you, so we can both surmise from the photos. I cannot speak to fit (yet) but I can speak to the logo- – which, if you HAVE TO DO THAT (and you don’t), is as tasteful as a logo can be done. Dear Paul Stuart folks, I love your logo, on letterhead, on those great print pieces you do – not on the clothing.
And now we head into the other questions. Is Paul Stuart competing with Brooks Brothers? Nope. There is no reason to. Art of War. Don’t interrupt your enemy while they are making a mistake. There’s no need to create a product or a campaign competing with a brand that is not, at present, surging. Although there is hope. More on that later. What does this tell us then? That Paul Stuart knows what we have been saying, that classic clothing, and its various iterations, are going to make a comeback. So let’s get a shirt out there.
Yes, it is non iron. I don’t like it either. But I am not who they are marketing to. Who they are marketing to = absolutely zero-point-zero inclination to iron anything. And willing to make the compromises that one has to make to forego ironing. You can bemoan the demise of the must-iron shirt, and there will always be some around (thank god) – BUT. You must also accept that when given the choice between ironing and everything else – well, you can do the math there.
Is this a sports shirt? THIS. IS. A. PROBLEM. It isn’t a sports shirt. The ocbd is not a sports shirt. I understand the thinking. Call it a sports shirt and somebody will think: hey, this is better looking athleisure and I can wear this and look one step up from, well, athleisure. That’s like classifying an inflatable raft a boat and calling your inlaws from said raft and announcing you are on a cruise. To sell this shirt, you have to sell the lifestyle. You all met Ralph, right?
What are we left with here? This. Paul Stuart is a well-resourced, well thought out brand that has survived where others have not. They have seen the first few bleeps on the EKG of the OCBD, and have invested in full resuscitation. Their iteration of it. I welcome it. You should too – a rising tide lifts all boats. – JB