Brooks Brothers to open Flatiron concept store

Brooks Brothers will open a new concept store in the Flatiron District of New York City later this fall. As a move on from their more traditional approach, the store will cater to college students and feature the more trend-based sportswear pieces from their current range. This will be anything but tailored suits, shirts and ties.

The store will be named ‘The Flatiron Shop’ and will feel much less formal than a regular Brooks Brothers store, with exposed brickwork, free WiFi and vintage video games. Men’s and women’s products will sit alongside eachother to avoid the male/female segregation of most clothing stores.

Over recent years Brooks Brothers have tried to appeal to a younger audience, sometimes to the detriment of their heritage and general image. The move to open a younger store feels like a strategy to compete with the likes of Abercrombie & Fitch. With products like this hoodie (below) in their new range, it’s easy to draw comparisons – a move which is causing many Brooks’ aficionados much pain.

I don’t believe Brooks Brothers needs to try to compete in this area, and if they do want to appeal to a younger crowd I think going the way of Gant Rugger would be a much better approach – using their heritage and authenticity, their archives to create vintage inspired pieces, rather than the faux-vintage, distressed look of Abercrombie.

Ironically the original incarnation of Abercrombie & Fitch, the one founded in 1892 (no relation to the current incarnation aside from the name) did have an interesting history. Brooks’ is in the position of having the right to talk about its heritage, a great archive of almost 200 years of designs, and yet the range aimed at college students and graduates (as seen in the above image from Brooks Brother’s current ‘Back to Campus’ campaign, which seems to share more in common with Harry Potter than it does with traditional Brooks’ fare) doesn’t feel authentic, it feels like a pastiche of itself, a caricature. This should be the territory of imitators, not Brooks themselves.

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August 2011