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Brooks Bro's quality

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by linux_pro, Mar 4, 2005.

  1. Mark Seitelman

    Mark Seitelman Well-Known Member

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    O.K., now a few of the good points about Brooks: 1. The new owners are trying to improve the store. They are clothes loving Italians. 2. The new owners are looking to bring back some of the classics. They commissioned a history celebrating the past. They have brought back some products which were banished, such as ancient madder ties. It's a slow process, but the captain on the bridge has a clear objective. 3. As an all-around traditional clothier, it is the best and broadest for all price ranges. The college grad and the head of AIG Insurance all shop at Brooks although at different price levels and in different departments. 4. It's MTM program instituted its own collection of cloths from leading mills, and Brooks decreased its prices when it decided to buy the cloths direct from the mills. It passed the savings to the customer. Quality hasn't been compromised in the Greenfield program, and Greenfield tells me that it is better and that the new owners are striving for quality rather than price cuts. Therefore, MTM is within reach of more consumers. (The down side is that some of the heavy, English cloths have been banished.) 5. Overall, the store's goods are good value especially due to its many sales promotions. You cannot beat its prices. E.g., its Peal English shoes. It's MTM is a good value. Now, back to work to earn some money to buy the clothes.
     
  2. Phil

    Phil Well-Known Member

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    Along those lines of BB trying to bring back the classics, I have been pleasantly suprised at the number of archive shirting designs that they have brought back for the MTM shirt department. Every season they seem to dust off about 5 pattered shirts that they used to sell, generally in the 20s-40s time era and make them available through MTM. I even saw some in the catalog recently.
     
  3. STYLESTUDENT

    STYLESTUDENT Well-Known Member

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    Phil (or anyone else),

    What's your experience with quality on Brooks' MTM shirts? What's the pricing? Because of recent substantial price increases for Individualized Shirts (up $100 more per shirt in the past 18 months-now cost $250 at Bergdorf), I'll soon be in the market for a new MTM shirt source. Thanks.
     
  4. Phil

    Phil Well-Known Member

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    I started using BB MTM at 346 Madison about 9 months ago. The only reason I did was because I just became so frustrated with Turnbull that I couldnt take it anymore. I am really particular about how my shirts fit, and I was wary when I went over to BB. I couldnt have been happier though. I work with a guy named Tom Davis, who in addition to being extremely knowledgable about shirts, is one of the most interesting guys I know.

    As far as pricing goes, I have never cared much for overly expensive fabrics, in shirts, or in suits. The fit is the most important thing to me, much more so than if my shirt is some kind of crazy expensive egyptian cotton. Therefore, I tend to stick the lower price points anyway. The supima cotton shirts, MTM, are I think about $95.00. The vintage shirts I was referring to are $162.50, and most end on end and broadcloth shirts are somewhere between $125-$200. Delivery time has never been longer than 4 weeks, and UNLIKE Turnbull, they arrive in the style and pattern I ordered.
     
  5. STYLESTUDENT

    STYLESTUDENT Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the response and information, Phil.
     
  6. Phil

    Phil Well-Known Member

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    no problem, glad to help. Definetely see Mr. Davis if you go.

    On a related note, this is an interesting aside. So, in my frustrations with T&A, I went looking for another shirtmaker. A good friend of mine works at Saks, and knows the Hilditch and Key company very well. He had me send over one of my Turnbull shirts to copy, and they couldnt do it (this is H&K custom no less). Specifically, I like the circumference of my shirt sleeves pretty tight. Not muscle shirt tight, by any means, but I really hate billowy sleeves. H&K apologized but said they would be unable to accomodate. I thought that was odd, considering they quoted me $455.00 for a blue end on end shirt. BB, however, went though the trouble of creating a special cutting pattern for me to make the sleeves the way I want them. The blue end on end shirt I got (with the proper sleeve circ., $155.00)
     
  7. STYLESTUDENT

    STYLESTUDENT Well-Known Member

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    Sounds interesting. What other modifications will Brooks make on an MTM? For example, will they omit the pocket? Make the buttondown collar longer, as it used to be? I wore their shirts in the '60s and '70s but (as Will posted) became discouraged when they added the pocket and shortened the collar, for reasons not at all clear.
     
  8. Phil

    Phil Well-Known Member

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    They will make just about any adjustment. Pockets optional. I have been going with a tennis collar lately. The first few I got back had the regular thickness lining. The last ones I ordered I had made with no lining, and even no exta material on the underside for collar stays. off the top of my head this is what I have had adjusted, or asked for, and was accomodated:

    1. Longer collar points. You have to pick a collar shape they have a pattern for. You cant walk in with a T&A shirt, and say I want this. They have the Londoner, which is a great English spread. Its normally 3" collar points. I had them make the points 3 3/8". Not a problem. The tennis collar is 3", I have mine made to 3 3/8"

    2. Linings of collars and cuffs. I have had them make some shirts with extra thick linings, some with none. They do either.

    3. Pockets, I think they are worthless on dress shirts.

    If I think of more I will add to it. They have several collar and cuff shapes, and can make even the most subtle adjustments to just about every aspect of the shirt.
     
  9. Horace

    Horace Well-Known Member

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    Didn't they retain the collar long after the added the pocket? When did Brooks do away with the old button-down collar with the distinctive roll? I believe they retained it at least until the early 90's when Brooks was bought by M&S, no?

    $95 for a supima cotton shirt, MTM isn't bad.
     
  10. esquire.

    esquire. Well-Known Member

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    Son of Brummel,

    It would be interesting to know how Brooks Brothers' bottom line has reflected all the recent changes new ownership has brought. Unfortunately, all those numbers are now not public.

    You've nailed it on the head. Brooks' base was getting too old to support the company. I think its one of those retail rules of thumb that past a certain age, the customer's buying habits drop signifigantly. You always need a influx of new blood for customers, and for whatever reasons, Brooks failed to cultivate a new generation. I always wondered what happened? Perhaps, you might have some theories.

    I don't have data to support this, but I wonder if part of the reason was just simple overexpansion into new markets with no previous connection to the brooks brother history. Even though the preppy style became a mass market fad in the 80s and again recently, you always had a core group of acolytes who wore this without any sense of irony or fashion. For generations, it had been a rite of passage for the father to take his son to brooks brothers and this introduced the new blood into BB. If BB hadn't expanded at all, I think this small group would have been enough to support it. But, when you went into new markets, you didn't have the father who grew up wearing BB taking his son to BB as well.

    I'd also blame Ralph Lauren for the demise of BB. The market for such a style is limited, and RL just stole a signifigant portion of it. RL has just done a much better job of marketing his clothes.

    And, then, you mentioned business casual. BB was in a no win-win situation at that point.Anything they could have done was going to be ultimately unsuccesful.

    BB today is in a unenviable position, even with all the recent changes. It still hasn't addressed what it's going to do: to try to tweak its brand a little or remain unchanging. If it attempts the former, it might drive off its loyal customers. Or, if it does the latter, it won't be able to attract the new customers it needs to stay open 20+ years from now when all its old customers have died off.
     
  11. STYLESTUDENT

    STYLESTUDENT Well-Known Member

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    Horace is right that the "old" longer Brooks collar survived later and that I (together with many others) abandoned Brooks for reasons more related to changing "lifestyle" (aka probably regrettable conformity to "fashion" trends) as well as changes to Brooks itself. I remember vaguely that the pocket was added in the early '70s. Phil's posts are encouraging:at $100 or more, I wouldn't really mind going back to the quality and construction of Brooks shirts in the '60s, if indeed that is possible through the MTM process.
     
  12. uriahheep

    uriahheep Well-Known Member

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    Jan 14, 2005
    BB mercerized cotton polo shirts are good.
     

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