This is Henry, the new mascot unveiled by Brooks Brothers, and who already adorns $50 t-shirts.
Henry is named for Henry Sands Brooks, who founded the company in 1818. That was a long time ago, so it’s a futile exercise to imagine how old Henry would regard new Henry. He’d probably be more concerned with the loss of his company’s New York flagship, the deplorable level to which masculine dress has fallen, and the overall state of the State. Or he might just politely say, “Your shoe’s untied.”
For a little more perspective on exactly where we are on the historical timeline, Brooks Brothers’ former Southwick factory is going to become an Amazon warehouse. Henry, caught between two worlds, seems to be unable to decide whether he should dress Southwick-style or Amazon-style:
Old Henry would also surely be befuddled by Ralph Lauren, the upstart that still manages to be more Brooks than Brooks. Earlier this spring RL ran a marketing campaign featuring a couple of denizens on the fashion fringes of Tradsville, providing us with a good lead-up to Father’s Day. Here’s the always photogenic Kiel James Patrick:
And a man known for being behind the camera. Mr. Mort, as he is known, was one of the more enjoyable characters I met during my years in New York.
The times are certainly changing — enough to turn a man to drink. The Wall Street Journal wonders if ties will be relevant again, with quotes from trad clothiers H. Stockton and Junior’s. And for an entertaining look into what happens if ties don’t maintain their relevance, be sure and check out my storybook “These Are Our Failures.”
The Journal also says traditional dressing may never come back in a feature entitled “You’re finally going back to the office. What are you going to wear?”
Self-styled “relic” BC, who’s written a few pieces for Ivy Style and opines in the comments section now and then, is a regular correspondent of mine. In a recent exchange, we both agreed that while the ship may be sinking, we’re at least going to go down properly dressed, like the gentlemen on the Titanic. The joke resonated, as a few days later I adopted a new Titanic View Of Life that I may write about here as I become a relic myself.
In the words of Max Beerbohm, “I may be old-fashioned, but I’m right.”
But BC, who makes port in Maryland, has a lot more experience on the ocean than I do. Perhaps he’ll regale us with a tales of near or actual sinkings, or at least his most dangerous moments at sea. And so we give him the parting shot with this photo he sent over of his old sneakers. After all, going down “properly dressed” doesn’t have to mean formal. — CC