richard warren

Senior Member
The decline in Brooks Brothers is nothing compared to the decline of the American pseudo-intellectual (let’s face it, America has never generated a true intellectual, all pretenders to the title merely having been too much interested in the acquisition of wealth and power to be objective).
 

drpeter

Senior Member
It's a sad story in some ways, and an elegy of sorts. Of course, the main outlines of BB's history is well known to most of us in these forums. Looked at, however, in comparison with many of the companies that have risen and fallen, or not fallen, it seems clear that the critical factor is in adapting to new environments and changing times. There are only so many ways in which a company can change, especially a company that deals with clothes and styles, before losing the very heart and core of what made them so vibrant in the first place, in the early and middle periods of their history.

Consider the fact that Brooks Brothers, a company established as far back as 1818, has continued, in one form or other, for 202 years before filing for bankruptcy. I don't know of many companies in this country or elsewhere which have demonstrated that kind of staying power, without morphing into areas that are completely different from what they started out with. The East India Company comes to mind (1600-1857) but they were in a very different business altogether! So BB has had a pretty good innings, and sooner or later, it has to close down, or become something else entirely.

J Press, OConnell's, Mercer and Sons, et al have survived because they did a very focused job of catering to a small, but devoted clientele. And they remained small, instead of expanding wildly and managing store locations all over the world. There is a lesson to be learned here from looking at geographical empires. In a wonderful book, The Collapse of Complex Societies, the anthropologist Joseph Tainter analyses the causes of the end of three empires: The Western Roman Empire, the Maya Civilzation and the Chaco Culture, the latter two in the New World. One of the points he makes is that there comes a time in the development and aging of such empires, where the complexity and extensiveness of an empire becomes too involved and demanding to hold together and sustain, economically and administratively. At that point, things begin to collapse and drastic change becomes inevitable. Perhaps such an analysis can be applied to the rise and fall of clothing empires. In this spirit, it might be instructive to see how other clothing businesses like Ralph Lauren, will do in the long run. I think RL has adapted quite a bit, and so far, does not seem to have lost some of the core ideas and approaches he started out with, although it is crystal clear that he has continually adapted to contemporary trends as they arise.

Just a few thoughts. I will cherish the old Brooks Brothers clothes that I have, and reflect on its long history. The Buddhists have a good point: Life, and everything in it, is transient and impermanent. And the Tibetan Buddhists have a famous saying: Life is a house on fire. Curiously enough, Tennessee Williams said this too!
 
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Mike Petrik

Honors Member
The decline in Brooks Brothers is nothing compared to the decline of the American pseudo-intellectual (let’s face it, America has never generated a true intellectual, all pretenders to the title merely having been too much interested in the acquisition of wealth and power to be objective).
A pseudo-intellectual assertion to be sure.

Dewey, Arendt, Bell, Rorty, Chomsky, Walzer, Niebuhr, Fish, Neuhaus, Rawls, Fukuyama, du Bois, Wallerstein, Nozick, Friedman, Fish, Parsons, Veblen, Strauss, Skinner, Dewey, Maslow, Paglia, Buckely, Holmes, Santayana, Sontag, Dworkin, Emerson, Wittgenstein, and James to name some that come to mind.

And my current personal favorite Sowell, who dresses pretty well too.
 
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drpeter

Senior Member
The decline in Brooks Brothers is nothing compared to the decline of the American pseudo-intellectual (let’s face it, America has never generated a true intellectual, all pretenders to the title merely having been too much interested in the acquisition of wealth and power to be objective).
I don't agree at all. I am not sure if the American "pseudo-intellectual" has declined -- if they are pseudo-intellectuals to begin with, then their decline should be a welcome event, LOL.

Perhaps your definition of the term "intellectual" might be different from mine. How about Edmund Wilson and Noam Chomsky? Richard Rawls, Hannah Arendt, Paul de Man, and Thorstein Veblen also come to mind. Gunnar Myrdahl, Samuel Huntington, WEB du Bois and Francis Fukuyama will all qualify. I have named people who have specialized in certain areas (literary criticism, cognitive science and linguistics, history, sociology, etc.) but have also made an impact that goes beyond their chosen field of specialization, and have commented in thought-provoking ways on matters that are of wider interest to all who reflect on the issues of our times. I would put physicists like Albert Einstein and Steven Weinberg in this list as well, along with philosopher Daniel Dennett and neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga. I can think of others, but these names should be sufficient to show that there is no dearth of true intellectuals in America.
 

drpeter

Senior Member
A pseudo-intellectual assertion to be sure.

Dewey, Arendt, Bell, Rorty, Chomsky, Walzer, Niebuhr, Fish, Neuhaus, Rawls, Fukuyama, du Bois, Wallerstein, Nozick, Friedman, Fish, Parsons, Veblen, Friedman, Strauss, Skinner, Dewey, Maslow, Paglia, Buckely, Holmes, Santayana, Sontag, Dworkin, Emerson, Wittgenstein, and James to name some that come to mind.

And my personal favorite Sowell, who dresses pretty well too.
I was writing my list, Mike Petrik, as you were putting together yours. I decided to stop with a few, but I can certainly agree with the additional names you have put together. And yes, Sowell is a splendid choice.
 
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Fading Fast

Connoisseur
A pseudo-intellectual assertion to be sure.

Dewey, Arendt, Bell, Rorty, Chomsky, Walzer, Niebuhr, Fish, Neuhaus, Rawls, Fukuyama, du Bois, Wallerstein, Nozick, Friedman, Fish, Parsons, Veblen, Friedman, Strauss, Skinner, Dewey, Maslow, Paglia, Buckely, Holmes, Santayana, Sontag, Dworkin, Emerson, Wittgenstein, and James to name some that come to mind.

And my personal favorite Sowell, who dresses pretty well too.
Sowell is a national treasure - shame he doesn't get treated that way.

I'd add Eric Hoffer and Murray Rothbard to your list.
 

Peak and Pine

Connoisseur
And let's not forget Rachel Maddow, whose picture hangs above my bed. A votive candle's involved.

**************

Question. What do the posts here, including mine, have to do with Brooks Brothers? And Duende, oooooo, that pulled-from-the-author's-behind phrase signifying nothing. Tired probably of reading once again about Brooks' demise, posters here instantly bought into Warren's off-topic and unfounded remark about intellectial barrenness.

Just as well for I read the linked article, same stuff about Brooks Brothers over and over. Yes they were once a big deal, now they're not, etc. The article is from a God website. Shutter. And contains the following appalling remark regarding Brooks' 1946 sale to Garfinckel's...

Perhaps not coincidentally, it was as part of this Jewish-American retail empire that Brooks Brothers enjoyed its widest appreciation.

Cancel before it starts my site subscription which they seem pop-upingly dying to get.
 

Mike Petrik

Honors Member
And let's not forget Rachel Maddow, whose picture hangs above my bed. A votive candle's involved.

**************

Question. What do the posts here, including mine, have to do with Brooks Brothers? And Duende, oooooo, that pulled-from-the-author's-behind phrase signifying nothing. Tired probably of reading once again about Brooks' demise, posters here instantly bought into Warren's off-topic and unfounded remark about intellectial barrenness.

Just as well for I read the linked article, same stuff about Brooks Brothers over and over. Yes they were once a big deal, now they're not, etc. The article is from a God website. Shutter. And contains the following appalling remark regarding Brooks' 1946 sale to Garfinckel's...

Perhaps not coincidentally, it was as part of this Jewish-American retail empire that Brooks Brothers enjoyed its widest appreciation.

Cancel before it starts my site subscription which they seem pop-upingly dying to get.
Well bless your heart, Peak. Your precious arrogance aside, a more literate person would have comprehended that the term duende was Frasier's, not the author's. Perhaps you can add some egotistical snark to Frazier's wiki page. Here you go: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Frazier
 
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eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
And let's not forget Rachel Maddow, whose picture hangs above my bed. A votive candle's involved.

**************

Question. What do the posts here, including mine, have to do with Brooks Brothers? And Duende, oooooo, that pulled-from-the-author's-behind phrase signifying nothing. Tired probably of reading once again about Brooks' demise, posters here instantly bought into Warren's off-topic and unfounded remark about intellectial barrenness.

Just as well for I read the linked article, same stuff about Brooks Brothers over and over. Yes they were once a big deal, now they're not, etc. The article is from a God website. Shutter. And contains the following appalling remark regarding Brooks' 1946 sale to Garfinckel's...

Perhaps not coincidentally, it was as part of this Jewish-American retail empire that Brooks Brothers enjoyed its widest appreciation.

Cancel before it starts my site subscription which they seem pop-upingly dying to get.
Frankly, considering how much I've spent over the years buying navy blazers, OCBDs and Clarke's Advantage chinos, not to mention the suits (Oh gawd, the suits!) I can't believe Brooks Brothers went bankrupt! Egad. :crazy:;)
 

Peak and Pine

Connoisseur
Yes; and yes though not in the way you mean.
Er, Mike, you know I like you and I know secretly you're crazy about me, so I'm curious....

You just went back and edited your post, you took out the part about my 'embarrassing arrogance' and that 'we all know (you polled them?) you're more interested in ranting, etc.'

Actually, I'm not so curious. I'm writing to thank you for the edit.
 

Mike Petrik

Honors Member
Er, Mike, you know I like you and I know secretly you're crazy about me, so I'm curious....

You just went back and edited your post, you took out the part about my 'embarrassing arrogance' and that 'we all know (you polled them?) you're more interested in ranting, etc.'

Actually, I'm not so curious. I'm writing to thank you for the edit.
You are welcome.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
Frankly, considering how much I've spent over the years buying navy blazers, OCBDs and Clarke's Advantage chinos, not to mention the suits (Oh gawd, the suits!) I can't believe Brooks Brothers went bankrupt! Egad. :crazy:;)
Knowing it's silly, I've had a similar thought about BB (and J.Crew).

Another thing that the article reminded me of is that my "relationship" with BB took place well after the store was no longer in the original owner's hands.

As a kid growing up in the '70s, I only vaguely knew about BB from popular culture as a place where successful businessmen bought expensive clothes for the office. None of that was going on in my world.

Then, when I started working on Wall St. in the '80s, I began to learn about business attire and BB. But by then, it was already on its third owner, Allied Stores, so what I think of as "original" BB was probably far from it.

Even the "older" guys in the '80s, who were in their 40s and 50s, probably started shopping at BB when it was owned by Garfinkles. To be sure, maybe Garfinkles and Allied tried to keep BB similar to "original" Brooks, but I bet there were a lot of changes even if they were subtler than those to come.

Heck, when I had enough money to buy more than an item or two on sale at BB, it was about to change hands to Mark & Spencer. And, of course, we all know the good and bad of the Del Vecchio area.

Thinking back, in the '80s, I remember that Press (half a block away from BB's Madison Flagship) felt more "old" in its clothes and practices. At that time, I was still learning the history of clothing, east-coast Ivy, etc., but intuitively one could feel more of a sense of tradition in Press than BB at that time.

That's it, just some observations and memories.
 

drpeter

Senior Member
And let's not forget Rachel Maddow, whose picture hangs above my bed. A votive candle's involved.

**************

Question. What do the posts here, including mine, have to do with Brooks Brothers? And Duende, oooooo, that pulled-from-the-author's-behind phrase signifying nothing. Tired probably of reading once again about Brooks' demise, posters here instantly bought into Warren's off-topic and unfounded remark about intellectial barrenness.

Just as well for I read the linked article, same stuff about Brooks Brothers over and over. Yes they were once a big deal, now they're not, etc. The article is from a God website. Shutter. And contains the following appalling remark regarding Brooks' 1946 sale to Garfinckel's...

Perhaps not coincidentally, it was as part of this Jewish-American retail empire that Brooks Brothers enjoyed its widest appreciation.

Cancel before it starts my site subscription which they seem pop-upingly dying to get.
Just to be clear, I did write a reflective response to Mike's post referring to the article about Brooks Brothers. That was most definitely on topic, but likely got swamped by the responses to Warren (including my own, LOL).
 

drpeter

Senior Member
As for shopping at BB, my first purchases were in the mid-1980s from their outpost in Chicago (Michigan Avenue, I think). At that time, they may already have been acquired by Marks and Spencer. Along with a couple of polo shirts and ties, and a houndstooth sports jacket, I also bought a tin of English biscuits from Marks and Spencer that they had displayed in a corner of the shop. It was a lovely tin with golds, reds and greens in a pattern of leaves and fleurs-de-lis. I still have the tin, and I keep biscuits and shortbread in it. At that time, the clothes were still made in the US, and of fine quality. I have no idea if the shop continued in Chicago, or got closed down.
 

some_dude

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Brooks had a store in my town for a brief period-- maybe 5 or 6 years. It was sort of nice, but the sizes were limited (I'm on the larger end of the scale), and they often didn't have anything that I wanted. As I am part of their target market, honestly, I'm surprised they survived as long as they did. I'm not really sure who shopped there this century.

My local men's stores were a much better option all around. And still are.
 
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