• We would like to welcome Pete and Harry as an official Affiliate Vendor. Pete and Harry, co-founded by Erik (EFV) one of our long time members and friends, offers a wide variety of products, clothes, watches and accessories, antique, vintage, “pre-loved” and new - all at unparalleled prices. Please visit their new thread and give them a warm welcome.

  • 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

upsett1_spaghett1

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2021
Messages
880
Reaction score
1,289
Sad news indeed. For 30 years I wore nothing but Southwick suits five days a week. They were indestructible, beautiful, timeless, and the fabrics were first rate.
This my first Southwick suit, but my father had several and loves them very much. It is very tragic news indeed, I wish that the buyer had plans to continue the brand, but I would venture it's going to be another mixed use property like their current holdings. Think the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Which to be fair, is a cool place to buy cheese and stuff, but I'd rather buy more Southwick suits.
O'Connells still has Southwick for sale, are these NOS then?
Yeah, so buy anything you're interested in now, there probably won't be any more of it.
Thirty years ago Joseph A Bank was the" trad Suit Supply" or rather a relatively low priced version of BB, Press, et al.
I was being a little sardonic, but my idea was they could offer a very traditional American style at a similar or slightly higher price point to SuSu and be an option for people who are ballin' on a budget, but don't want pants that crush your groin like cherry tomatoes in a poorly made caprese salad.
I’ll prolly regret opening this can of worms, but what do you consider “good customer service”?
This is a great question. I would suppose good customer service in a retail environment starts with an excellent greeting, or in the PDX Brooks Brothers location, lack thereof. Been there multiple times and never been greeted or acknowledged until after being in the store several minutes which is far too late. You might say I am nitpicking, but in any retail environment, especially one where commission might be on the line I should not have to find a sales associate. It is certainly possible for folks to be overeager or follow me around to much, but I'm forgiving of over-attentiveness. At least let me know you see my presence and you're there to help. An example where the customer service is good (albeit I don't really buy clothes there because the product is usually not my thing), is Nordstrom. You can't even walk by the shoe department without someone at least saying hi.
 

Keith Taylor

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 4, 2019
Messages
304
Reaction score
612
I would suppose good customer service in a retail environment starts with an excellent greeting, or in the PDX Brooks Brothers location, lack thereof. Been there multiple times and never been greeted or acknowledged until after being in the store several minutes which is far too late.
There are some pretty stark differences between cultures in this respect. You’ve come to expect a fair amount of friendliness from salespeople in the US, but as a Briton I find that incredibly off putting. The best greeting in a clothing store is no greeting at all. Ever. Don’t talk to me. Don’t look at me. Pretend I’m not there, but be aware that I’m there. If I need help I’ll catch your eye, but otherwise pretend I’m invisible.

In a perfect world I’d go through the rest of my life never exchanging another word with service staff (not because I’m an aloof ass, but because social awkwardness is baked into British people from birth), though after spending time in the US as a younger man I’d make an exception for diner staff. There’s no better way to start the day that to be served a huge stack of pancakes by a chatty woman named Pam :)
 

upsett1_spaghett1

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2021
Messages
880
Reaction score
1,289
There are some pretty stark differences between cultures in this respect. You’ve come to expect a fair amount of friendliness from salespeople in the US, but as a Briton I find that incredibly off putting. The best greeting in a clothing store is no greeting at all. Ever. Don’t talk to me. Don’t look at me. Pretend I’m not there, but be aware that I’m there. If I need help I’ll catch your eye, but otherwise pretend I’m invisible.

In a perfect world I’d go through the rest of my life never exchanging another word with service staff (not because I’m an aloof ass, but because social awkwardness is baked into British people from birth), though after spending time in the US as a younger man I’d make an exception for diner staff. There’s no better way to start the day that to be served a huge stack of pancakes by a chatty woman named Pam :)
Diner staff are a dying breed (because the legit American diner is dying), we need more chatty women named Pam.

You do make a great point about cultural differences influencing ideal shopping experiences. Which is whenever I've traveled abroad I try to observe how the locals interact with each other when approaching any sort of transactional experience.

That being said, Brooks Brothers literally bilked the Union Army at one point so I would say they are probably one of the most US clothing brands. I am not unwarranted in expecting the most American clothing sales experience. I've managed multiple retail stores in two industries and I can tell you that any sales associate who consistently failed to greet a customer within 15 seconds would be promoted to customer incredibly fast. I understand if a customer doesn't want their hand held and it's usually pretty easy to know to back off someone who's not looking to make a friend, but in the US not being greeted does send a clear message and it's that my money is not wanted.
 

Keith Taylor

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 4, 2019
Messages
304
Reaction score
612
Oh, absolutely. When I’m in the US I expect treatment that, in my opinion, verges on the over familiar because that’s just the way you do things over there, and I’d expect no less from BB. I wouldn’t enjoy it, though. If you and I walked into a store together and you were unhappy with the lack of greeting you’d turn around and see me smiling from ear to ear at the blissful peace :p
 

upsett1_spaghett1

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2021
Messages
880
Reaction score
1,289
Oh, absolutely. When I’m in the US I expect treatment that, in my opinion, verges on the over familiar because that’s just the way you do things over there, and I’d expect no less from BB. I wouldn’t enjoy it, though. If you and I walked into a store together and you were unhappy with the lack of greeting you’d turn around and see me smiling from ear to ear at the blissful peace :p
If you and I were to walk into a store together Capital One would be very happy and my girlfriend would not
 

Southwick

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2010
Messages
279
Reaction score
359
Diner staff are a dying breed (because the legit American diner is dying), we need more chatty women named Pam.

You do make a great point about cultural differences influencing ideal shopping experiences. Which is whenever I've traveled abroad I try to observe how the locals interact with each other when approaching any sort of transactional experience.

That being said, Brooks Brothers literally bilked the Union Army at one point so I would say they are probably one of the most US clothing brands. I am not unwarranted in expecting the most American clothing sales experience. I've managed multiple retail stores in two industries and I can tell you that any sales associate who consistently failed to greet a customer within 15 seconds would be promoted to customer incredibly fast. I understand if a customer doesn't want their hand held and it's usually pretty easy to know to back off someone who's not looking to make a friend, but in the US not being greeted does send a clear message and it's that my money is not wanted.
“Promoted to customer.” That’s a great line!
 

dieworkwear

Mahatma Jawndi
Dubiously Honored
Joined
Apr 10, 2011
Messages
23,291
Reaction score
57,962
There was an article in the New York Times many years ago about how "pushy" SAs have pushed some customers online.




Many customers now prefer a hands-off approach to shopping, similar to what Keith describes above.

Two anecdotes:

I once spoke to Sid Mashburn about how he deals with this. He says that he wants SAs to greet customers when they come in, but anything more than that requires what he described as an "emotional antenna." Some people want to be left alone; some people want some kind of friendly interaction. Of the people who want some interaction, he also said that it's important to send over an SA who will have more of a natural rapport with that specific customer. Some people "vibe" with certain people better than others, and sending over the right SA is just as important as knowing whether to send over someone at all.

Another friend owns a high-end CM-style store (e.g. Edward Greens, fancy tailoring, and the like). He said that he finds customers often want to be left alone. Even if they have money to spend, many may not be used to shopping in a store like this, and hovering SAs can make them feel like they "don't belong." So interactions are very touch-and-go (e.g. "hello, let me know if you need anything") so the customer can interact at thier pleasure. But to sell some of this stuff, you also have to explain things -- why a jacket is constructed the way it is, or why a pair of shoes cost $1,500. So he puts little signs next to the items, which explain some of the main points. He said he finds this to be much more effective, as most of his customers prefer a hands-off approach.

When I read about the old Brooks Brothers' "CU customer" (a customer who has such a close relationship with their SA, they come in and ask to "see you"), I think it sounds romantic, but am not sure if it applies to the modern world. Many customers aren't as loyal anymore to a single store, and many prefer a hands-off approach. In the past, a Brooks Brothers SA might give you a call if something came in that they thought you'd want, or they'd jot down notes about your size, preferences, dress habits, etc, so they can better serve you in the future. I think many customers today would find that to be pushy and maybe even slightly creepy.
 
Last edited:

Ambulance Chaser

Stylish Dinosaur
Joined
Mar 7, 2002
Messages
12,707
Reaction score
6,452
The most "attentive" service I have ever received at a clothing store was at Morris & Sons in Chicago over a decade ago. The sales associate followed me around the store pulling items off the rack he thought I might like. His strategy worked: I ended up buying a Brioni raincoat that I wear to this day.
 

Keith Taylor

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 4, 2019
Messages
304
Reaction score
612
The most "attentive" service I have ever received at a clothing store was at Morris & Sons in Chicago over a decade ago. The sales associate followed me around the store pulling items off the rack he thought I might like. His strategy worked: I ended up buying a Brioni raincoat that I wear to this day.
Back in November, days before Covid finally arrived in Mongolia and we went into lockdown, a new store opened on the ground floor of an office building around the corner from my apartment. It was an import shop, a kind of general store that stocked a grab bag of random western items with no rhyme or reason, as if a cargo cult set up shop without understanding the purpose of a shop, in the vain hope that a display of Pringles might magically attract wealthy western shoppers. Imagine a shelf full of Persil washing powder followed by a shelf of Kellogg’s cereals followed by an artfully lit but out of place display of Maglite torches, all of it in a vast and clearly far too expensive space.

The moment I walked in it became clear from the beaming smile on the owner’s face that I was her first ever customer. She followed me around like a lost puppy, standing far too close and pointing at random products while mumbling the brand names. As an awkward shopper who prefers to be left alone I was utterly mortified, but after a few minutes I grabbed a box of Corn Flakes, handed over my money and bolted.

By the end of the month the shop had closed down. The lockdown didn’t help, I’m sure, but when I mentioned the place to my British friends they all shared the same story of the owner hounding them out of the shop with her well meaning but overbearing approach. Nobody I know paid a second visit.

You have to know your audience. If you’re trying to sell to Brits you should stay quiet, don a ghillie suit and blend into the background. We’re easily startled, but unlike the sand people we won’t be back in greater numbers.
 

upsett1_spaghett1

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2021
Messages
880
Reaction score
1,289
He says that he wants SAs to greet customers when they come in, but anything more than that requires what he described as an "emotional antenna."
Fully agree with the emotional antenna point. It's pretty obvious when a customer doesn't want to have a lot of interaction and in that case it is very easy to let them come to you. However a greeting is still important, you should still acknowledge someone's presence. In the case of BB in downtown PDX I shouldn't be starting to try stuff on before you say hello to me.
“Promoted to customer.” That’s a great line!
I wish I had come up with it, but it's a fairly common expression in retail sales
You have to know your audience.
This is absolutely the key to sales and successful retail business. Retail sales is like online dating, you have to tailor your approach to the vibe you're receiving
 

othertravel

Distinguished Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2011
Messages
8,845
Reaction score
2,864
The most "attentive" service I have ever received at a clothing store was at Morris & Sons in Chicago over a decade ago. The sales associate followed me around the store pulling items off the rack he thought I might like. His strategy worked: I ended up buying a Brioni raincoat that I wear to this day.
This is ironic. I just visited the website, and it's very aggressive in terms of asking if I need help. For every product you click, a big pop-up appears asking if you need help.
 

Viral

Distinguished Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2009
Messages
3,990
Reaction score
875
how about the fact there's too much "bitch" in most men? You get offended because someone did or didn't greet you and you weren't gonna spend a dollar there anyway??

GTFO
 

Norwester

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2018
Messages
59
Reaction score
252
The creepiest customer service I've had was at my local BB when I walked in and my usual SA saw me and called out in a scolding tone "You've been shopping online!" He went on to explain that whenever I bought something in the system the local store was sent a notification. I was as disturbed as when I realized that the internet seems to be aware of every Google search I've ever made. He was definitely an old-school salesperson. He found it distasteful to discuss prices, and would even turn away the screen when he rang up my purchases so I couldn't see the total. I would have liked to feel comfortable just dropping in and looking around when I found myself downtown, but found myself only coming by when I had something specific to buy.

The best service I've ever witnessed was when I joined an old friend at a 3-star restaurant in Paris where he was a regular. He was greeted quite warmly at the door, they acted pleased that he spoke French (despite their English being far superior), and the head-waiter treated him like family. They seemed genuinely pleased that I was dining there too, but saw that I was happy to let my friend be the star of the show and didn't try to draw me out. On the other hand, whenever I glanced at my water glass and thought "maybe I should ask for a refill", a waiter would magically appear to fill it, before disappearing back into the woodwork.

My typical experience with American restaurants is waiters who empty the rest of the wine bottle into the glass of the one guest who is done drinking, then ask if you want to order another bottle. Who clear the plates from half of the table while someone else is still eating. And who whisk away without asking your plate or wine glass with that one last bite or sip that you were saving with anticipation.
 

Phileas Fogg

Distinguished Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2020
Messages
3,833
Reaction score
3,450
My typical experience with American restaurants is waiters who empty the rest of the wine bottle into the glass of the one guest who is done drinking, then ask if you want to order another bottle. Who clear the plates from half of the table while someone else is still eating. And who whisk away without asking your plate or wine glass with that one last bite or sip that you were saving with anticipation.
I’ve never had that happen, so my only conclusion is that you’ve only ever eaten at one restaurant in the States and you’re extrapolating that experience to everyone else.
Maybe you should eat at better restaurants.
 

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by

Featured Sponsor

How often do you get a haircut?

  • Every 2 weeks

  • Every 3 weeks

  • Once a month

  • Every 6 weeks or longer


Results are only viewable after voting.

Related Threads

Forum statistics

Threads
464,089
Messages
10,024,015
Members
209,358
Latest member
MrPierson
Top