Danny

Super Member
Well whatever happens, those Garland BB OCBD's were my favorite shirt of all time, the model that was discontinued a few years ago. Amazing shirts.

I do wonder who the people were that bought all the random stuff on the BB website...the non-trad items. It did not seem to distinguish itself very much. I always wondered why they had to have so many hundreds of items. The great items that were mixed in were like 5-10% of the offerings.

In an ideal world Brooks would probably shrink way down to something like Press and do trad correctly. I cannot imagine that is what is about to happen. At least we have Press and O'Connell's and the other small retailers that soldier on. The only thing we can do is vote with our wallets. All these places have to have customers to stay afloat. Think about what you value, pay attention and spend wisely. That's about all I can think to do.
 

Steve Smith

Super Member
I do wonder who the people were that bought all the random stuff on the BB website...the non-trad items.
Really?

Trad is a tiny subset of the clothing market. If you polled the general population in the US I doubt that 1% would have any idea what it is. And of course many who are familiar with the trad aesthetic do not restrict themselves to a strict 'trad only' style. It does not bother me in the least that a jacket has darts, for example.

So the answer to the 'who bought all the random stuff' question is 'Almost everybody'.
 

GregorSamsa

New Member

Interesting video. I like the thought of brooks returning to a focus on quality, and I hope it can/does, but I also understand the mass market won’t pay higher prices for higher quality goods.
 

TKI67

Super Member

Interesting video. I like the thought of brooks returning to a focus on quality, and I hope it can/does, but I also understand the mass market won’t pay higher prices for higher quality goods.
That was an excellent video. Thank you. I am certainly no merchandising expert, but it was my sense that moving out of the old stores with dark wood and deep carpets, going to a bricks and mortar model distinguishable from places like Mens Wearhouse only by a few superficial embellishments, was the step off the plank. It was no longer special, and over time the clothes followed along that new path.

As for what the mass market will pay, I agree that significantly higher prices for better quality will not likely have broad acceptance, but I believe the pandemic driven increased interest in made in the USA products offers a small, possibly temporary, opportunity. I believe it is possible to offer high quality made in the USA goods at prices that may be higher but not unduly higher.

As to changing tastes, I believe that Brooks used to offer a lot of very comfortable things in natural fabrics and could reclaim some market by sticking to and touting comfortable fit. I would think there would be a market for comfortably cut khakis, OCBDs, sweaters, and the like made in the USA of natural, untreated fabrics. However, as previously noted, I am no expert!
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur

Interesting video. I like the thought of brooks returning to a focus on quality, and I hope it can/does, but I also understand the mass market won’t pay higher prices for higher quality goods.
Interesting video, thank you for posting it. The "BB can save itself by returning to high quality" angle seemed tacked onto the end and wasn't really supported. I'm not really sure how that would work. BB would probably have to shrink dramatically and win back the higher-quality buyer that has moved on to other stores.

I'd love BB to do that, but really wonder if the new buyers bought it for that reason as the new buyers are a brand-name accumulator company and real estate company. The former wants to maximize the brand's value which, usually, means increase the stuff it sells (and license out, etc.) and the latter probably wants to keep as many of the stores as possible paying rent, which also means mass-market sales. I hope I'm wrong, but neither of those owners says to me "let's build a high-quality biz that moves less product out of a significantly smaller number of stores."

Let's look at it using J.Press as a model. Press basically is what many here would like BB to become - a seller of well-made trad clothes, expensive but not excessively priced, but clearly not mass market. And that J.Press model - which might not even be profitable (or around if its Japanese owners didn't keep it alive so that it would have American-trad street creed for its larger clothing biz in Japan) - seems to be able to support, presently, three US stores in traditional East Coast trad-clothing markets. And the NYC store is wonderful, but small.

...
As to changing tastes, I believe that Brooks used to offer a lot of very comfortable things in natural fabrics and could reclaim some market by sticking to and touting comfortable fit. I would think there would be a market for comfortably cut khakis, OCBDs, sweaters, and the like made in the USA of natural, untreated fabrics. However, as previously noted, I am no expert!
You are correct as BB really tried to do this. At the Madison Ave flagship store, the entire second floor (and it's a big floor) was all the things you suggest. It was all chinos, cords, sweaters, "casual" OCBDs, knit jackets in "soft" fits or some other comfortable-sounding branding. The floor was chockablock with comfy trad and "trad inspired" items.

Just writing that and thinking about your post and that floor, I wonder if the answer is there simply isn't enough of a market left even for causal "updated" trad clothes (forget suits, sport coats and ties, I'm talking chinos and v-necks) to support BB.

And while modern BB wasn't high-end expensive, in general, you could find stuff like BB offered for half or less at stores like J.Crew, Uniqlo, Bonobos, etc. Sure, the quality was lower, but does the modern consumer care or do they just want something that looks nice enough and is at a cheap price that - like with many things today - they'll re-buy in several years when it wears out?
 
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TKI67

Super Member
Interesting video, thank you for posting it. The "BB can save itself by returning to high quality" angle seemed tacked onto the end and wasn't really supported. I'm not really sure how that would work. BB would probably have to shrink dramatically and win back the higher-quality buyer that has moved on to other stores.

I'd love BB to do that, but really wonder if the new buyers bought it for that reason as the new buyers are a brand-name accumulator company and real estate company. The former wants to maximize the brand's value which, usually, means increase the stuff it sells (and license out, etc.) and the latter probably wants to keep as many of the stores as possible paying rent, which also means mass-market sales. I hope I'm wrong, but neither of those owners says to me "let's build a high-quality biz that moves less product out of a significantly smaller number of stores."

Let's look at it using J.Press as a model. Press basically is what many here would like BB to become - a seller of well-made trad clothes, expensive but not excessively priced, but clearly not mass market. And that J.Press model - which might not even be profitable (or around if its Japanese owners didn't keep it alive so that it would have American-trad street creed for it's larger clothing biz in Japan) - seems to be able to support, presently, three US stores in traditional East Coast trad-clothing markets. And the NYC store is wonderful, but small.



You are correct as BB really tried to do this. At the Madison Ave flagship store, the entire second floor (and it's a big floor) was all the things you suggest. It was all chinos, cords, sweaters, "casual" OCBDs, knit jackets in "soft" fits or some other comfortable-sounding branding. The floor was chockablock with comfy trad and "trad inspired" items.

Just writing that and thinking about your post and that floor, I wonder if the answer is there simply isn't enough of a market left even for causal "updated" trad clothes (forget suits, sport coats and ties, I'm talking chinos and v-necks) to support BB.

And while modern BB wasn't high-end expensive, in general, you could find stuff like BB offered for half or less at stores like J.Crew, Uniqlo, Bonobos, etc. Sure, the quality was lower, but does the modern consumer care or do they just want something that looks nice enough and is at a cheap price that - like with many things today - they'll re-buy in several years when it wears out?
Ironically I think where something is or is not made has become a selling point that rivals quality. The anti-MIC sentiment out there is pretty vocal. I am active on Chowhound, and on their cookware board people are passionately against stuff from the PRC even if it is quite high quality. Likewise with respect to stereo equipment on the Steve Hoffman Forum. I go by Tim Irvine on both.

I will always opt for made in the USA if the clothes are well made and reasonably priced. For some things, however, made overseas is pretty much it.

I have a hard time envisioning a number of institutions being around ten or twenty years from now. Brooks Brothers is only one of them.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
Ironically I think where something is or is not made has become a selling point that rivals quality. The anti-MIC sentiment out there is pretty vocal. I am active on Chowhound, and on their cookware board people are passionately against stuff from the PRC even if it is quite high quality. Likewise with respect to stereo equipment on the Steve Hoffman Forum. I go by Tim Irvine on both.

I will always opt for made in the USA if the clothes are well made and reasonably priced. For some things, however, made overseas is pretty much it.

I have a hard time envisioning a number of institutions being around ten or twenty years from now. Brooks Brothers is only one of them.
It's funny how these views change generationally. I'm 56 and my dad's generation was a "Buy American" generation, in part, because of WWII as goods from Japan and Germany, in particular, were not popular with many who remembered those countries as the enemy.

My generation was more mixed as we didn't fight that war and saw that buying goods from foreign countries gave those countries a chance to move up the economic curve and improve their people's living standards, health, diet, etc. It wasn't a universally held view, but certainly many in my generation thought we were helping other countries improve themselves when we bought their goods.

Now, this generation, for many reasonable reasons, is more of a "Buy American" generation.

So, is there an advantage for BB in all that? Maybe, I don't know as the cost disadvantage is huge, so a "made in America" approach will be a smaller market, but maybe it's a differentiator.

The real challenge is that BB's clothes - even its casual stuff - seem to be losing favor to the clothing from the athletic/athletic-leisure makers as shown in the video where brands like Nike are taking market share.

Some problems can't be solved and BB might be one of those. In truth, it already failed or it wouldn't have gone into bankruptcy. Can it come back - the brand name, yes, but the old business model and clothes, nope.

So what will BB look like? Heck, the name Abercrombie and Fitch is still around (right?), but the company that it was pretty much went bye-bye in the '80s.

We might look back and say the same of BB in 2020 even if there's still a BB brand selling clothing in 2040.
 
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TKI67

Super Member
My son in law is in his mid-thirties. He and his UT fraternity friends like modern trad/prep like Vineyard Vines, Southern Tide, Filson, and Cole Haan. I just ordered him a pair of Rancourt camp mocs in their crowdfunding sale. There is a spark of commonality and hope.
 

Danny

Super Member
Really?

Trad is a tiny subset of the clothing market. If you polled the general population in the US I doubt that 1% would have any idea what it is. And of course many who are familiar with the trad aesthetic do not restrict themselves to a strict 'trad only' style. It does not bother me in the least that a jacket has darts, for example.

So the answer to the 'who bought all the random stuff' question is 'Almost everybody'.
That I know...I meant more as in...Why is a general audience scouring Brooks Brothers for all those random, odd items? They have many hundreds of other clothing retailers to buy from.
 

TKI67

Super Member
That I know...I meant more as in...Why is a general audience scouring Brooks Brothers for all those random, odd items? They have many hundreds of other clothing retailers to buy from.
As to "buying all the random stuff" I would guess that many people bought certain types of random stuff at Brooks, but it was the same stuff they could have bought at Bank or Macy's. However, some of the things they carried, often the ones in their windows, were, in my conjecture, never bought by anyone. I have never seen anyone, for example, wear a navy and blue striped blazer with a coat of arms on the breast pocket, let alone over a tennis sweater.

The word scouring brought back happy memories. I remember now and then you would come across an item in Brooks like a Shetland in last year's color. They always stocked the standard colors like navy and medium grey but each year there would be some more novel color like plum. I remember one year they offered multicolor stripes. I had a few great finds scouring Brooks. I was not so lucky scouring neighborhood corner groceries looking for forgotten Ch. Margaux or Ridge Monte Bello at 1960s prices!

Now with computerized inventory management and the stuff that wasn't moving, even with the Brooks label, finding its way to Nordstrom rack, scouring is not much fun. I still cyber scour O'Connell's NOS.
 

Mr. B. Scott Robinson

Advanced Member
In my magic kingdom, I would start a quality traditional men’s shirt line called “Garland” cut the NC workers in for a share of the action, provide a decent wage, and feature the stories and faces of the people who make and deliver the products front and center in the marketing.

$150-175 price range, all made in USA. Stories of the workers, and the benefits to their family and community, I provide for no additional charge.

But that is just magical George Bailey thinking......that America is dead.

Cheers,

BSR
 

FiscalDean

Super Member
In my magic kingdom, I would start a quality traditional men’s shirt line called “Garland” cut the NC workers in for a share of the action, provide a decent wage, and feature the stories and faces of the people who make and deliver the products front and center in the marketing.

$150-175 price range, all made in USA. Stories of the workers, and the benefits to their family and community, I provide for no additional charge.

But that is just magical George Bailey thinking......that America is dead.

Cheers,

BSR
That sounds like something along the lines of what Allen Edmonds did a few years back. Their catalogs featured pictures of some of the people working in Port Washington.
 

rl1856

Senior Member
Brooks would survive and probably achieve success as a much smaller boutique brand/store. However that would require a significant reduction in the number of retail locations controlled by Brooks. The involvement of Simon Properties as owner would imply that a reduction in retail stores may not be feasible. They invested to ensure that Brooks as a "premium" brand would remain in their malls. I put premium into parenthesis as I expect a significant reduction in quality as the new owners seek to expand margins while not increasing price points. What is interesting is the sale price of $350mm + assumption of lease obligations. The brand has gross revenue of more than $1B, and once the economy returns to something resembling normal, there is a reasonable expectation for revenue to return to previous levels or close. There is room in those numbers to do what is needed to improve the business side, while addressing excess square footage, and maintaining quality.

I fully understand that we will not return to a business suit environment, and that was one way that the BB of old succeeded. However BB was known as much for their casual / leisure wear as for suits. There is room and credibility in the brand to pivot towards casual. Regardless of the demise of the suit, I believe men will still want to dress well, and BB can exploit this desire. For example, the quintessential BB NBB should be considered the male equivalent of a women's LBD....versatile enough to be worn while grocery shopping in the morning, and to dinner later in the day. And the wearer will stand out from the crowd at all times, and for the right reasons.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
Thank you for the link.

This ⇩ from the article is open to interpretation, but knowing the two buyers - one being a "brand" accumulator and the other a real estate company - I'm not thinking a return to classic Brooks is on the slate.

Brand marketing, which will focus on adapting Brooks Brothers for a new generation through enhanced creative, engaging with, and growing its following online and launching a fresh slate of collaborations, will be shared by ABG and SPARC.
Look, I get it, they want to make money (and keep the mall stores going) by expanding and "modernizing" the brand. They bought it; it's theirs and they can and should do with it what they want - the privilege of ownership. I'm just not hopeful that too many of us here are going to like the new direction.
 

TKI67

Super Member
Thank you for the link.

This ⇩ from the article is open to interpretation, but knowing the two buyers - one being a "brand" accumulator and the other a real estate company - I'm not thinking a return to classic Brooks is on the slate.

Brand marketing, which will focus on adapting Brooks Brothers for a new generation through enhanced creative, engaging with, and growing its following online and launching a fresh slate of collaborations, will be shared by ABG and SPARC.
Look, I get it, they want to make money (and keep the mall stores going) by expanding and "modernizing" the brand. They bought it; it's theirs and they can and should do with it what they want - the privilege of ownership. I'm just not hopeful that too many of us here are going to like the new direction.
Well said.
 

fishertw

Advanced Member
Saw a report from Steve Smith ( I think) on this forum this week that the Garland plant will likely be reopened using many of the existing workers in eastern NC, and some of the Southwick workers have bought the name and hope to reopen in October IF I recall correctly. North Carolina needs the Garland plant in the eastern part of the state. Now- what the goods will be are anybodys guess at this point but it does not sound like it will be under BB labels.
 

TKI67

Super Member
So on a scale of 1-10, 1 being the "new" Abercrombie & Fitch compared to the old one and 10 being the "new" Mark Cross (gladly accepting a better idea for a 10, but their new offerings are as nice as the old, just not as many), where does everyone think the "new" Brooks Brothers will land? Let's compile our thoughts and look back in a year or two.
 
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