Brooks Brothers’ Continental Bent (is more like it)

I’m still not getting what I want from Brooks Brothers, and I’m starting to wonder if I ever will.  Bring back the pure, unapologetic, timeless icons of American sportswear & clothing– make it fresh, get the fit right, and roll it out.  It still feels too much like a European (Italian) interpreting classic American style.  It has a very continental feel in these photos from WWD.


It comes off a little schmaltzy, in my book– like they have seen the look through pictures and books, but have not lived the life themselves– it feels detached.  Stop using paintings as inspiration and get back in touch with the history and tradition of American dress at it’s best.  Look at the footwear above, and the fullness and sheen of the tie is all wrong (and under the rugby knit of course, very cliche).  Two cents more– Brooks Brothers should not be making a jean or casual five-pocket pant model of any sort.  Someone, please dig into the archives and make it happen– for the sake of a once great and venerable American brand.  


I don’t think the womenswear is working here.  Too fussy, and in a bad ‘career separates’ kind of way.  She needs to find her voice and be more aspirational.


The story from WWD

8 thoughts on “Brooks Brothers’ Continental Bent (is more like it)

  1. Thank you Selvedge, couldn’t agree more. The disconnect must be coming from the top, because all Brooks’ touchpoints seem to suffer from, as you perfectly put it, a “sheen.” There’s just a natural, lived-in quality that seems to be missing.

    For example, the brand photography, which suffers from, among other things, poor staging. The Holiday catalog, in particular, lacked humanity (especially after the Central Park bench shoot, which showed a glimmer of hope). The models rarely acknowledged each others presence, and when they did it felt forced. For reference, the first shot in the catalog is a full spread featuring a couple on a snowy front porch–which sounds intimate, but oddly, isn’t. The shot is taken from too far away, and the couple should be engaged somehow, be it a kiss or a stolen moment. Many of the models used are frequently used in other labels campaigns, so I can’t think it’s them. I think it’s the direction from the top.

  2. I hope they get it right. I am a Brooks Brothers fan– otherwise I wouldn’t care enough to speak up, and would just keep my mouth shut.

    Come on Brooks Brothers!


  3. Exactly. I don’t understand why the fashion magazines keep recommending Brooks Brother’s shirts. The cheap sheen and horrible feel that the “no-iron” fabric gives them is a dealbreaker for me. The sheen is quite literally the result of some pretty dubious chemical treatments. As a side note, I had quite a good laugh as I recently went to their boutique in China and noticed that their cheap quality made-in- China boxers were selling for $50 US.

  4. I went into the Brooks Brothers in Beverly Hills the other day. It is right near Polo Ralph Lauren, and the comparison does not make Brooks look good.

    To an untrained eye, you would think that BB is fine quality, but there is something about their tailored clothing (both men’s and women’s) that just seems wooden. It’s as if a machine, and only a machine, glued the sleeves onto the body of the jackets. Colors are uninspiring and unimaginative. The whole design of the store was bland, beige and reminiscent of a mid 1970s Hilton Hotel.

    BB, like Time Magazine, Cadillac and Aramis each had a heyday that must have peaked in 1965. They are still alive, but feel as if a committee of married middle aged men in Kenosha, WI are behind their design and execution. There is no life, only the brand name, and the vitality and beauty are long gone.

  5. I was optimistic when Thom Browne signed on to start Black Fleece that some of his modernist flair would rub off on the main line. But the majority of BB still retains the stodgy uncool of a 40 year old man trying to use slang

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