Brooks Brothers OCBD Overpriced

fallschurch

New Member
The topic of the new $140 BB OCBD has been discussed a lot but I wanted to provide some analysis on why they're overpriced.

This is coming from someone who understands we are spending less and less of our income on clothing, who supports Made in USA, who is aware of the severe ethical and moral issues of a 9 year old in Bangladesh manufacturing a $3 dollar chemise, who is willing to pay a premium for ethically sourced clothing.

OCBD industry supply chain pricing is opaque but a few manufacturers have come out about this. I believee it costs around $30 + labor to produce a MIUSA garment. When you add in reasonable profit margins, investment, and other fixed/unfixed costs, this should come out to around $90-$100/shirt that MIUSA and is RTW (not MTM).

This is what Ratio Clothing offers. They produce an OCBD in the same NC factory as BB for $98 -- and they are semi-MTM to boot! This is also what BB used to price their OCBD at (i.e. 132/133Q): $95. I've read that these were sold "at a loss" -- that cannot mean actual negative margins as it doesn't cost $95. They were simply sold at less than BB's target margin. That's why BB was willing to sell them for $50 or so on sale: that's their true cost + smaller margin.

The $140 range (Mercer, Michael Spencer) where BB moved up in its new OCBD is reserved for MTM, which costs a lot more to produce due to its smaller batches and customization.

Brooks thinks their brand name is worth a 50% premium. It is not.

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All-cotton OCBD pricing

Offshore RTW, lower quality (Old Navy, Kohls, Chaps, Nautica): $15-$25
Offshore RTW, medium quality (Hyde Park (per new comment), RPL, J Crew, Gap): $25-$40
Offshore RTW, higher quality (Hyde Park, LL Bean, Spier & Mackay, Lean Garments, Everlane): $40-$60
Offshore MTM (Luxire, Proper Cloth): $70-$85
MI Japan (Kamakura): $80
MI USA RTW (BB 132/133Q etc, Ratio, FA McClure, Gant, defunct manufacturers such as Sero, Hathaway, Chipp, Huntington, classic BB Makers): $100 (price is inflation-adjusted for defunct manufacturers)
MI USA MTM (Mercer, Michael Spencer): $140
MI USA RTW but not mass-produced (O'Connells, J Press, Andover Shop, New England Shirt Factory): $100-$140, varies greatly but BB does not belong in this category. As consumers, we need to be smart and look to purchasing these instead of BB at $140 if we want to provide market-correcting price pressure on BB.
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The two outliers are the overpriced ones which we complain about; BB and Gitman. Two MIUSA RTW manufacturers at MTM pricepoints.
 
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TimF

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
The quandary BB finds itself in is that it heavily relies on deep discounts to drive sales. So to sustain its top line it would need, say, 40% off on special days. If $100 is what they need to make on the shirt, inflate by 40% and voila you got your "tag price."
 

127.72 MHz

Elite Member
Your perspective is interesting. I still buy Brooks shirts when they are on sale. In the mean time Mercer gets a couple of orders from me per year.
 

TimF

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
On a somewhat unrelated tangent, does anyone know if BB plans to update their $140 OCBD for 2018 (the company's 200th year in existence). Any inside track information/insight would be helpful.

Specifically, I care about: return of the chest pocket (at least make it an option), and return of the earlier oxford cloth used on the lined OCBDs.
 

rl1856

Senior Member
Why compare a bricks and mortar store with an online only vendor ? That alone could account for the difference in price.

Of more importance is the fact that the new MIUSA $140 OCBD is made using a lighter weight fabric, and in a trimmer cut than the old shirt.
 

blue suede shoes

Super Member
The topic of the new $140 BB OCBD has been discussed a lot but I wanted to provide some analysis on why they're overpriced.

This is coming from someone who understands we are spending less and less of our income on clothing, who supports Made in USA, who is aware of the severe ethical and moral issues of a 9 year old in Bangladesh manufacturing a $3 dollar chemise, who is willing to pay a premium for ethically sourced clothing.

OCBD industry supply chain pricing is opaque but a few manufacturers have come out about this. I believee it costs around $30 + labor to produce a MIUSA garment. When you add in reasonable profit margins, investment, and other fixed/unfixed costs, this should come out to around $90-$100/shirt that MIUSA and is RTW (not MTM).

This is what Ratio Clothing offers. They produce an OCBD in the same NC factory as BB for $98 -- and they are semi-MTM to boot! This is also what BB used to price their OCBD at (i.e. 132/133Q): $95. I've read that these were sold "at a loss" -- that cannot mean actual negative margins as it doesn't cost $95. They were simply sold at less than BB's target margin. That's why BB was willing to sell them for $50 or so on sale: that's their true cost + smaller margin.

The $140 range (Mercer, Michael Spencer) where BB moved up in its new OCBD is reserved for MTM, which costs a lot more to produce due to its smaller batches and customization.

Brooks thinks their brand name is worth a 50% premium. It is not.

**********
All-cotton OCBD pricing

Offshore RTW, lower quality (Old Navy, Kohls, Chaps): $15-$25
Offshore RTW, higher quality (Hyde Park, LL Bean, Spier & Mackay): $40-$50
Offshore MTM (Luxire, Proper Cloth): $70-$85
MI Japan (Kamakura): $80
MI USA RTW (BB Old, Ratio, FA McClure): $100
MI USA MTM (Mercer, Michael Spencer): $140
MI USA RTW but not mass-produced (O'Connells, J Press, Andover Shop, New England Shirt Factory): $100-$140, varies greatly but BB does not belong in this category. As consumers, we need to be smart and look to purchasing these instead of BB at $140 if we want to provide market-correcting price pressure on BB.
**********

The two outliers are the overpriced ones which we complain about; BB and Gitman. Two MIUSA RTW manufacturers at MTM pricepoints.

I certainly wouldn't use the word quality when describing the Hyde Park shirts from Land's End, nor would I put them on the same level as LL Bean or Spier & Mackay offerings. The Hyde Park used to be good until they drastically cut the number of colors offered, stopped offering the slim fit model, tightened the measurement across the chest, and cheapened the fabric so that it is no longer recognizable. It now looks like something one would buy at Kohls or Walmart.

As I have said before in discussions on this topic, for $140 per shirt Brooks Brothers lost me as a customer. At that price point, I would go for custom made, or any of the fine alternatives that you listed above.
 
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Oldsarge

Moderator and Bon Vivant
Well, Hemrajani has any number of shirting materials you can choose from and they will make MTM of a whole range of prices, depending on your choice of fabric. Personally, I can't get that excited over a damned shirt, fergawdsake.
 

mrm21711

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Would you say Gitman is overpriced? I like them but $150 sure is steep.

The O’Connell’s “house label” OCBDs go on sale a few times a year and I believe these are made by Gitman. I always pick up one or two and have been quite happy with them.
 

Charles Dana

Honors Member
But what’s really “the price” of a product that goes on sale so often that the full retail price of that product is effectively a joke?

I know “the price” of the shirts that are sold by Mercer, Michael Spencer, Ratio, O’Connell’s, Ben Silver, et al. (Not to be confused with El Al. If you call El Al and ask what they charge for Oxford cloth buttondown shirts, get ready for stony silence.) (Et tu, Al? Al—he was Brutus’ lesser-known little brother. Preferring to operate the burrito concession in the Senate cafeteria rather than go into politics, Al never made it into either the history books or the play. As of today, however, he has finally gone from the Roman Forum to the Trad Forum. Al’s moment to shine has arrived at last.)

Anyway, if a product hardly ever goes on sale, its price is its price. But if—like the OCBDs at Brooks Brothers—you can count on the product being discounted frequently, then what is “the price” of that item? The full retail price, or the sale price?

As I write this, the OCBDs from BB are on sale: buy three or more, and you get 25% off. (I concede that if you want just one or two, you’ll have to pay full ticket. Still—they are on discount. Again.)

To me, the full retail prices at BB are just placeholders until the real prices appear during the frequent sales. Same deal with Lands’ End.

The Brooks Brothers OCBD: Is its price $140.00 or $105.00? I’d ask Al, but he’s too busy preparing for the lunch crowd. He’ll be glad to take your order.
 

FLMike

Connoisseur
I don't recall ever seeing the new BB OCBD discounted, except for the recurrent multiples deals. I don't like being made to buy three or more of something in order to get a sale price. Pet peeve of mine.
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
^^(In response to post#13)You make a very good point my friend.
Brooks Brothers has been my go-to source for OCBDs (and quite frankly for much of the remainder of my wardrobe) for a good many years and I frankly cannot remember ever paying full price for an OCBD! :icon_scratch:
 

Charles Dana

Honors Member
I don't like being made to buy three or more of something in order to get a sale price. Pet peeve of mine.

That’s a turn-off for me as well, generally. I guess I’m accustomed to it in the case of BB. For the 20 or so years I’ve been a BB customer, I’ve never bought fewer than three dress shirts at a time—I have done so in order to get the best deal. They have been basic shirts, so the money was well spent.
 
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HOOT

New Member
Why compare a bricks and mortar store with an online only vendor? That alone could account for the difference in price.

This. I would also consider Mercer and Michael Spencer as MTO not MTM.

Of more importance is the fact that the new MIUSA $140 OCBD is made using a lighter weight fabric, and in a trimmer cut than the old shirt.

The fits are exactly the same.

It's a mess. They don't even have the pink, yellow or ecru or red uni stripe OCBD's anymore. I miss the OCBD's as they were.

Are you talking about the old ones or the new ones? Because the colour and pattern selection has more than doubled on the new ones compared to what was previously available.
 
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Danny

Super Member
I do not see yellow, ecru or pink in the new OCBD, maybe I am missing something. I am talking about the traditional fit, regular finish [not non-iron] OCBD.
 

peterc

Super Member
Specifically, I care about: return of the chest pocket (at least make it an option), and return of the earlier oxford cloth used on the lined OCBDs.

I once asked about ordering some of the new ones with a pocket. I was told I had to go MTM, and pay the increased price. I passed. I would pay $140.00 IF they had a pocket, but not without. And, I agree, the Kamakuras are amazing at any price, let alone $89.00!
 
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