I have been a Brooks customer for almost 30 years. I started in the defunct "Brooksgate" Department. I am still a good customer although not as steady a customer as I was in the past. The store and its offerings have declined along with the general standards in the menswear industry. Did Brooks either lead the decline, accelerate the decline, or react and follow the others? I believe that it followed the trends in society and was a follower and not a leader in the decline. This decline was not overnight and proceeded over the course of decades. However, Brooks abdicated its positon as a leader in menswear due to poor management and lack of direction. E.g., 1. Brooks discontinued its custom department. This decision is now regarded as a mistake as indicated in its recent book. Although custom accounted for a very small percentage of the business, it set the standard and tone for the store's RTW. 2. Brooks discontinued being a maker of most of its own clothing. It used to make its top of the line suits and other tailored clothing. (It's RTW suit was known as the best of the best.) It made its own dress shirts. It made its own ties. In fact, 346 Madison Ave. originally had some manufacturing and tailoring operations on the upper floors. At about the time that Brooks discontinued its custom department (very late 1970's or very early 1980's), it started to sell-off and discontinue its manufacturing plants. The various owners took the viewpoint that it was more profitable to buy from outside vendors than manufacture it own goods. At this time Brooks makes only its ties (in Long Island City, NY) and some shirts (RTW and MTM) in Georgia. Essentially, Brooks buys the same goods that other stores buy. The store's ads used to proclaim that the advertised item was "ours alone." No more. 3. In the midst of the casual cancer of the last 15 or so years, Brooks did not know what direction to take. Should it follow the Gap and Banana Republic? Or should it stick to being a traditional clothier like Paul Stuart? One season lime green dress shirts would be offered, and the next season they would be sold at the outlet. It did not have a clear outlook. 4. Brooks was losing money. Marks & Spencer lost money when it sold it. It was not considered a trophy property when it was put-up for sale. The traditional and formal menswear industry was in a crisis as to whether men would buy suits in the future. 5. The old, traditional customers were dying off. I'm talking about the guys who would buy madras sportscoats and fun shirts. This merchandise was abandoned because the customers weren't buying. The management had to find new customers and new merchandise, Therefore, we had the syndrome of peach, plaid dress shirts one year, and white dress shirts the next year. This lack of direction and abandonment of the traditional clothes caused many of the remaining, hardcore, old-style customers to leave Brooks for more upscale stores, such as Bergdorf and Paul Stuart. 6. Over the last 20 years Brooks set forth on a course of expansion of branches and mail order. It's very hard to maintain the same quality standards in a very big chain. Some of the branches are very poor and should be shut. E.g., the new Fifth Avenue store, which is about 1/2 mile from 346 Madison, is a terrible store. The seasoned sales veterans are all at 346 while the kids (many joking around and speaking Spanish to one another) are working the sales floor at Fifth. Ironically, the Fifth Avenue store is successful due to the tourist trade. Brooks started as a small retailer with few stores, and as a small retailer it could keep a better handle on the quality and service. There are some good points about Brooks which I'll discuss in another post. Meanwhile, work calls . . .