So I'm flipping through the Orvis catalog with my Dad the other night, talking about how he can spend some gift card he has. We're looking at options and discussing his style when the conversation soon turns to suede shooting patches. Damn near everything in the catalog comes clad with one and the whole "form vs. function" debate arises. My Dad mentions how he has a great wool sweater from Brooksgate complete with said suede hunting details that no longer fits him. I instantly had two important questions for him: Do you still have it? What exactly is Brooksgate?
After chatting with my Dad and doing some digging around the internet I got the basic facts. According to the "Fashion + Innovations" page at the Brooks Brothers website, Brooksgate was launched in 1976 as "a new department...featuring tailored clothing designed especially for the young executive." Sound familiar, no? Back in 1976, Brooks Brothers was doing what a lot of brands are doing today. The demand for classic, heritage brands by a younger set has led to quite a few "reinterpretations" (i.e. more tailored fits) under diffusion lines. I won't bore you with a list of examples since we are all bombarded with them everyday. The launch of Brooks Brothers new extra slim fits shirts probably deserve a mention here as well.
The digital footprint of Brooksgate is pretty slim and one of the only things I could turn up was a catalog scan from, you guessed it, The Trad. He makes a quip that you can still buy all this stuff today...at Polo. Both a clever and true observation. Interestingly enough, though, Polo was still flying under the radar, at least relatively, pre-1981 when the brand went global so maybe it was actually Ralph who took some cues from Brooksgate. We'll probably never know. Anyway, that's a little history lesson for Thanksgiving. I hope everyone enjoys time spent with their loved ones and most importantly stays safe. Cheers.
[Pictured: Brooksgate, 1985 catalog scan. Picture courtesy of The Trad.]
[Pictured: Brooksgate sweater bought sometime in 1980-something. Wool, leather buttons, suede shooting patch.]
[Pictured: Brooksgate by Brooks Brothers, made in the U.S.A.]