19 August 2010

Tables Turned


The once venerable Brooks Brothers has resorted to stealing concepts from Ralph.

See here, and here. (watch the videos...just be sure you're sitting down, first.)

?!?! And I thought Ralph was supposed to be stealing from them...and the English.

Sigh. (how the mighty have fallen...)

18 comments:

Dr. Zauis said...

Well we now know that the current incarnation of Brooks Brothers is at least conscious. Good for them. Hats off to Ralph for his fantastic business sense, but most of these ideas were borrowed by him too.

Anonymous said...

I have worn BB for about 40 years.
I loved that brand, what is was, and what it stood for. Great value, classic style. Maybe I am old, but who ever "sold" them the current ad campaign, in my opinion, had no fundamental understanding of the brand, or the history...it felt very forced, like I was watching a bunch of models being told what to do. It is not fresh for them, or anyone else for that matter. Just another tired (but attractive) aspirational lifestyle quip. Sorry.
Griswald
Vashon Is. Wa.

Giuseppe said...

I know what you mean. I'm too young to have been there the first time around, but I'm thankful that my local thrift shops are full of old Brooks Brothers...the real stuff, with the navy blue, block lettered tags.

D.Law said...

Brooks Brothers still carries the stodgy old, full-cut ballooning clothing, fear not. For people with trimmer figures, their foray into slim cut clothing compliments our bodies.

This generation needs to become consumers of Brooks, or, simply, Brooks will become irrelevant - yes, that's 100% possible with the current trend of flip flops and cargo shorts.

Reaching out to a younger generation, through proven classic styles updated with modern cut, will work (see: Bastian for Gant/Gant Rugger, RL Rugby, RL Big Pony, re-birth of Hilfiger by Van Heusen, etc. etc.).

Don't write a company off because of a campy promo video. After all, they were one of the original campus and town clothiers. Give the young'uns a chance to get into Brooks. Before you know it, they'll be at their desk jobs with pot-bellies, wearing full-bodied gear griping about the latest fashion "trends."

As for the made-in-America aspect of Brooks, that's dead and gone. Just a fact of globalism and free-trade. Shame.

Keep up the great work on the blog man.

-Dave

The Sluice Box said...

While flipping through BB's digital pages, I found myself reminded more of Take Ivy than of anything else. I was in Polo's Rhinelander store last week and picked up a distinct Take Ivy vibe in several of their offerings. In fact, I wondered if some of the items were exact replicas of what appeared in the book.

Scott Alexander said...

I'm a fan of Ralph and his incredible marketing, and I also love Brooks Brothers, but this all feels so cheap. I suppose it's not awful for a first attempt at this perspective, but a beacon of tradition such as Brooks Brothers shouldn't be THIS off the mark the first time around.

macdonmt said...

I have to agree with Scott. When Ralph does this with Rugby, it feels authentic in a way. This feels like preppy GAP. The videos are short and too focused on showing the clothes, not the lifestyle which, is what a lifestyle brand is all about. Also, I never realized how good the Rugby (and Burberry) music selections were until I heard the tacky studio clack track behind these... really off the mark.

Titus said...

I don't mind Brooks updating, e.g., the cut of their suits. But I saw this catalog a few days ago and was hopping mad. What happened to all those fantastic three-piece tweed numbers they've had for the last few fall catalogs? Where are, well, the suits? This is a bunch of losers, drunks, and hipsters half-wearing their clothes. One has to imagine what the garments would look like on a civilized human being. Not exactly par for the course.

NCJack said...

But the two girls have great legs, that has to count for something...nahhh, still a load of it. In that "Back to Town" vid, the constant cuts made it too hard to see what the clothes actually looked like. Just lame all around.

Anonymous said...

This isn't the Fall BB catalog This is a separate catalog for their new college line. All the boring ill-fitting stuff you know and love will still be available.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention that they've teamed up with Levi's for jeans...

Any speculation on the next brand teaming for Brooks?

Like, Brooks Brothers and American Apparel...?

You never know...

Shawn said...

Giuseppe,

I agree with the anonymous poster that said this is merely an offshoot. Look at Ralph--for all the crazy stuff he does, he still has basic oxfords, tennis shirts, chinos, etc. Same with J. Crew. If you fear the whole of BB is going down this path, I think that's valid, but highly unlikely. However, if you think they are wrong for going this way at all, then you don't know much about business. It's not merely a need to stay relevant that brings this kind of foray about, but the need to stay in business--to simply survive in a new culture. Their old customers are dying, their potential new ones are busy being lured in by trendier, cheaper alternatives. I'm 25, and while I wear classic BB often, I do welcome the arrival of quality clothes that are closer to my aesthetic. It's simply progress. And lets be honest: If we're all against such change, where are our frock coats and breeches?

Jay B. said...

I don't think you should blame Brooks Brothers for trying to stay relevant. (I don't know a single 30-year who has ever been inside a Brooks Brothers store.) Blame the old-school director who shot these dated pieces. They are so forced and unbelievable.

While I don't like Abercrombie's clothing, Bruce Weber does a fantastic job of capturing their aspirational images and videos for consumers, that are impossibly beautiful but still naturalistic.

The Brooks Brothers videos are just a poor man's carbon copy.

Anonymous said...

The photograph you have used is alarmingly similar to my old school blazer; BB has fallen in my estimation.

Giuseppe said...

I agree they need to branch out and remain relevant. However, I think if they tried harder they could re-establish their brand as a standard bearer.

Others copied them, for generations. To see them copying the copy cats, and badly at that, is discouraging. Right now, there is a whole generation of young customers dying to become Brooks Brothers shoppers. The reason they aren't getting them is because they're not acting like Brooks Brothers. The current, and recent past, ownership has failed to grasp the essence of what that brand stands for. It's not just a matter of sack suits and button downs, it's an attitude and a style.

I have no problem with Ralph. He's got his own style. Brooks should find theirs rather than ride his.

C'mon, they can do better. Way better.

Anonymous said...

From where does this notion that the fuller fitting clothes represent some sort of traditional ideal. I think the cuts on the extra slim fit are more in line with the BB vintage stuff (the real vintage stuff, pre-1990--of course Giuseppe is more of an authority on this than me). Perhaps I am misguided in my opinion, but every bit of truly vintage stuff that I have ever tried on, along with old pictures (see Take Ivy) show a much slimmer fit than the billowy nonsense you all speak off with such great affection. For us slimmer men, these new clothes from BB are wonderful, and a I have welcomed BB back into my closet after a ten-year hiatus.
-John

Joey dee said...

I am thirty two and have set foot in and even shopped from time to time, ever since I was a a kid shopping for school uniforms. One can never go wrong with a polo or a fitted oxford. As for the new line I believe that there are others that donor better with emphasis on lifestyle. But from time to time I do go in for essentials. I feel sorry for anyone who is around 30 and has never been in a BB.

Anonymous said...

I worked for Brooks during the time when they first started outfitting the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra circa 2000 - 2002. I argued with my DM at the time about how BB needed to excercise the promise of the "youth classical" movement. He told me I didn't know what I was talking about. Now almost 10 years later...they come with this garbage...its pitiful. BB is no longer a standard bearer...and they lost the mantle years ago.