• Hi, I'm the owner and main administrator of Styleforum. If you find the forum useful and fun, please help support it by buying through the posted links on the forum. Our main, very popular sales thread, where the latest and best sales are listed, are posted HERE

    Purchases made through some of our links earns a commission for the forum and allows us to do the work of maintaining and improving it. Finally, thanks for being a part of this community. We realize that there are many choices today on the internet, and we have all of you to thank for making Styleforum the foremost destination for discussions of menswear.
  • STYLE. COMMUNITY. GREAT CLOTHING.

    Bored of counting likes on social networks? At Styleforum, you’ll find rousing discussions that go beyond strings of emojis.

    Click Here to join Styleforum's thousands of style enthusiasts today!

The New Brooks Brothers

NYCTechNerd

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 16, 2020
Messages
479
Reaction score
968
I don't know if there's still a market for that kind of old Brooks clothing. Fewer and fewer people wear tailored clothing. Brooks also used to rely on generations of customers, so that a father would introduce his son to his sales associate, who would then buy his first suit from this SA (their vanity book Generations of Style alludes to this history). But I think the only way to tell is if Brooks shaped the market in thier image, not follow trends like Italian menswear.
Interesting that as you were writing this, I was writing my real world example of it.

They dropped Alden as a supplier. I don't know if they'll revive that relationship, but I imagine they started using Italian factories because they're cheaper.
I doubt it, see my comment above.

The main reason to purchase BB x Alden shoes was they offered special makeups that were not produced (or allowed to be produced) for any other retailers. You could not even get them at Alden stores.
 
Last edited:

compuccesory

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 17, 2019
Messages
318
Reaction score
129
I came into Brooks Brothers well after they were bought by Marks and Spencer, so I can't claim to have first-hand knowledge of the "golden age." But the last category of things I bought from them was the shoes. Even when the rest of the store started to feel like a generic Italian brand, I thought the shoes were really good. Still made by Northampton companies and Alden, and sometimes in exclusive styles.

Like, they went from this: exclusive Alden-made models such as the unlined shell cordovan penny loafer and their take on the black calf Alden tassel loafer (their version has the foxing at the back)


View attachment 1510395
View attachment 1510394


To this: Italian made shoes with a logo stamped on the upper and "performance" soles
View attachment 1510396View attachment 1510397



Someone who worked at Brooks Brothers at the executive level once told me a story. When he first started working there in the 1980s, he worked with the CEO. At the time, Paul Stuart had just come out with their first $1,000 suit. Brooks Brothers at the time didn't have any suits that retailed for $1,000, so they wanted to make something that competed at that level.

So the CEO tasks this guy and his team with making Brooks Brother's first $1,000 suit. This guy goes to the factory and specs out the suit. He wants the best fabric, full canvas, hand stitching, hand attached everything, etc. The factory produces the suit and tells him that the manufacturing cost will be something like $400. At the time, Brooks Brothers margin was 50%, so a $400 suit would sell on the floor for $800. This guy goes to the CEO and says "we've made a $800 suit." CEO says "that's not $1,000, so go back and work on it some more."

Guy goes back to the factory and says "OK, give us everything you got. We want heel guards, etc." (Heel guards are that little strip of fabric that goes at the bottom of the hem to protect the hem). The tailor puts even more details into the suit. Says "OK, now the cost is $450." Guy goes back to the CEO and says "well the best we could do was $450, so this is a $900 suit." The CEO shrugs and says, "OK, I guess that's our $900 suit now."

This was told to me as an example of Brooks Brothers' thinking at the time. It did not occur to them that just because it cost them $450 to make a suit that they could still charge $1,000. The retail price still could have been $1,000 -- doing so would just require marking the tag. Viola, you now have a $1,000 suit. But they worked on a 50% mark up and that was what they did -- a $1,000 suit cost so much because it cost $500 to make (an item they ultimately could not produce).

Today, Brooks' margins vary depending on the product category, but it's generally closer to 70% (a common practice in this industry). And they constantly look for ways to cut costs and improve margins. There have been many internal discussions to move the tie production from New York to Italy, where it's cheaper. The only reason why someone would want to keep to a New York factory is provenance, which is something that customers perhaps no longer care about. Brooks could sell them on the idea of provenance -- a grand American brand making clothes in a style they pioneered and manufactured in America -- but over time, they've tried to follow the market instead of shaping it. So now they look like an Italian brand with the Milano fits, minimalist sneakers, and designer collaborations.

I don't know if there's still a market for that kind of old Brooks clothing. Fewer and fewer people wear tailored clothing. Brooks also used to rely on generations of customers, so that a father would introduce his son to his sales associate, who would then buy his first suit from this SA (their vanity book Generations of Style alludes to this history). But I think the only way to tell is if Brooks shaped the market in thier image, not follow trends like Italian menswear.
This is a strange story because why were they putting in heel guards at the factory, before the pants have been hemmed? Were they selling pants with fixed inseam lengths like JCrew? My suits have always come with heel guards in a roll in the back pocket.
 

dieworkwear

Mahatma Jawndi
Dubiously Honored
Joined
Apr 10, 2011
Messages
19,427
Reaction score
46,292
This is a strange story because why were they putting in heel guards at the factory, before the pants have been hemmed? Were they selling pants with fixed inseam lengths like JCrew? My suits have always come with heel guards in a roll in the back pocket.
I'm not sure, but that's how the story was relayed to me.
 

comrade

Distinguished Member
Joined
May 10, 2005
Messages
7,261
Reaction score
895
I have been following this thread closely, enjoy the opinions. I bought BB for 10 years, in the 2009, but the quality dropped off precipitously. Now, I only buy pajamas form them, and even them, and often left disappointed, I just can't find other manufacturers that I like without elastic in the drawstring pants.

As a note, the best part of this entire thread and discussion is @dieworkwear saying (nice) everytime he types 69 (nice)
O'Connells PJ with draw strings w/o elastic believe. However they are much higher
than BB.
 

cadmonkey

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 13, 2014
Messages
249
Reaction score
849
I am genuinely curious to see what Michael Bastian brings to the table. As much as I enjoy reading people wax poetic on thier first shopping trip to the Madison store with dad...MB is not an Ivy purist. His whole dna was mashing up Anglo and Italian details so how he approaches the BB crowd which is 1) cynical + conservative taste
2)value oriented - is a huge question mark. Mainline MB retail was astronomical if anyone forgot.. The 3) thing that plagues even RL is that their base customer is pushing ~60 years old which is definitely not in the MB dna and none of his collabs- gant/uniqlo would have put him in front of this audience. How he creates a cohesive line that speaks to BB’s core audience without falling for the trap of looking like an old fogey and can actually speak to a younger customer will be a huge task-definitely not something BB has done well or anyone else for that matter
 

Marc Voorhees

Distinguished Member
Joined
Sep 16, 2012
Messages
2,212
Reaction score
2,276
O'Connells PJ with draw strings w/o elastic believe. However they are much higher
than BB.
Appreciate the tip, will look at them! Willing to pay more just not turnbull&asser prices, which is the only one I have tried so far;
 

classicalthunde

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2016
Messages
966
Reaction score
476
I knew BB was headed in the wrong direction when I started seeing their shops in airports.
I’ve always wondered what the rationale behind these locations was...aside from a businessman traveling to a meeting who may have spilled a cup of coffee all over himself, I can’t seem to fathom why anyone would shop at a BB airport store
 
Last edited:

Kalec

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 14, 2020
Messages
79
Reaction score
39
Bit off the topic. As a consumer it is always great that BB would put all their stuffs on 70% clearance ultimately regardless of real quality.

Golden Fleece corrected leather shoes are not worth buying for even 200ish price but EG can also go on sale for 350ish price at the same time.
 

Phileas Fogg

Distinguished Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2020
Messages
2,059
Reaction score
1,441
I’ve always wondered what the rationale behind these locations was...aside from a businessman traveling to a meeting who may have spilled a cup of coffee all over himself, I can’t seem to fathom why anyone would shop at a BB airport store
likewise. A shirt and tie boutique I would have understood.
 

comrade

Distinguished Member
Joined
May 10, 2005
Messages
7,261
Reaction score
895
I’ve always wondered what the rationale behind these locations was...aside from a businessman traveling to a meeting who may have spilled a cup of coffee all over himself, I can’t seem to fathom why anyone would shop at a BB airport store
I wouldn't. Nor do I know the profitability of such outlets. However, as
a consumer a few years ago at Heathrow waiting to board an interminable
flight to San Francisco I wandered into a John Lewis shop and purchased
for around 50 GBP a lambswool sweater that fit perfectly. I had never even
heard of John Lewis, which is apparently a mid-range UK chain. So, one may
find great buys at such places.
 
Last edited:

smittycl

Distinguished Member
Joined
Jul 13, 2012
Messages
7,309
Reaction score
9,900
I was a Brooks Brothers customer up until approximately 5 years ago. For years it was a good resource for quality garments at their price points. When issues of quality from bubbling fused collars numerous times and horrible in house tailors for alterations kept coming up I gave up on them.

I like to have 2-3 go to places for clothes shopping, don't have time to run all over the place. Found a new store for CM needs that I have been shopping at since leaving Brooks Brothers. Their main lines are Kiton, Stile Latino and Pal Zileri for their entry line. They have great in house tailors that have not disappointed me yet. Customer service is top notch. Not cheap but the quality of garments and service is worth the price.

Hoping Brooks Brothers go back to a high quality and service model.
Who stocks Stile Latino here in the US? I can never seem to find them.
 

smittycl

Distinguished Member
Joined
Jul 13, 2012
Messages
7,309
Reaction score
9,900
Mitchells does well and they're just a smaller scale version of Brooks.
Hard to equate Mitchell's with Brooks. Maybe the same CM or casual "look" but qualitatively miles apart.
 
Last edited:

Torzano

Distinguished Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2015
Messages
1,035
Reaction score
1,127
I’m not in finance so if I’m wrong please chime in.

Never thought brooks brothers were “done” and were just using bankruptcy as a tool like many companies have and will continue to. I was surprised to not see this in any of the articles I read of their “demise”. The brand still has a lot of value.

Companies that are acquired by private equity constantly have to make giant profits to please shareholders. Smaller businesses can withstand loss more or maybe it is more accurate to say that private equity treats a business like a stock. If it’s not doing well they get rid of is as there is no emotional tie.

On a positive note I think Michael Bastian is going to bring back a little of the trad/ivy roots to BB. I messaged him on Instagram about bringing back the older blazer style and he responded! C6CF52B7-8A06-430F-8AFC-F2B00434CFEC.png
 

Phileas Fogg

Distinguished Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2020
Messages
2,059
Reaction score
1,441
One can define “demise” as either meaning they have gone never to come back or that what will emerge is completely different than what people knew. I think Abercrombie & Fitch defines this par excellence.

I was never a big Brooks Brothers customer. I used to get their shirts on a regular basis and have a few Peal & Co. shoes. I also have a handful of Saxxon wool sweaters. Beyond that, nothing. Never cared for their tailored clothing and moved on years ago to Kamakura for my go to work shirts.
 

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by

Featured Sponsor

Work From Home: What's Your Attire?

  • PJs & Slippers

  • Cozy loungewear

  • Casual outfit (wool cardigan, chinos, etc)

  • Suit or sport coat and dress trousers


Results are only viewable after voting.

Related Threads

Forum statistics

Threads
452,388
Messages
9,795,903
Members
204,417
Latest member
WSFarnie
Top