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Brooks Brothers likely to close remaining U.S. factories

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Token View Post

    My uniqlo shirts are paper thin and fall apart after ~5 washes. If you think MIUSA is pointless and not worth paying for you're perfectly entitled to that opinion, but separate that from the actual business model and cost of MIUSA shirts. If BB's MIUSA shirts were really overpriced garbage at $100 (why are you looking at BB full price? They routinely have sales of at least 25% off) you'd see other makers come in and undercut them. Gitman, Ratio, Proper Cloth, etc. all come in at $100 or higher.
    I’m not paying for BB MIUSA shirts even at sale prices and considering their business model is failing, neither are most consumers.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Token View Post

      My uniqlo shirts are paper thin and fall apart after ~5 washes. If you think MIUSA is pointless and not worth paying for you're perfectly entitled to that opinion, but separate that from the actual business model and cost of MIUSA shirts. If BB's MIUSA shirts were really overpriced garbage at $100 (why are you looking at BB full price? They routinely have sales of at least 25% off) you'd see other makers come in and undercut them. Gitman, Ratio, Proper Cloth, etc. all come in at $100 or higher.
      Its already been brought up but most of their made in US products are comparable in price to other companies. Some people value made in US goods and are willing to pay a premium for domestic manufacturing.

      I wonder/worry how Brooks Brothers closing their US factories will affect some of the small companies making US goods. I'm pretty sure they contract these factories to produce shirts and ties. I always thought that the New England Shirt Company and Ball and Buck used the Brooks Brother factory in Massachusetts to produce their oxfords and other companies use their New York factory for ties.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by garryowen47 View Post

        I’m not paying for BB MIUSA shirts even at sale prices and considering their business model is failing, neither are most consumers.
        That's fine, like I said you do you. Selling a relatively niche good like MIUSA shirts didn't make sense for BB given the size of their business and their strategy. Marketing is pushing the race to the bottom so you and most consumers who aren't willing to pay more than $40 for a shirt aren't the target audience for this type of stuff. I don't know what you want, expect, or why you think this is a good thing. This just means fewer options going forward.
        Instagram: WoofOrWeft

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        • #19
          I think ti's indicative of the larger market trend - younger companies have found ways to put better quality on offer at lower prices, being without the overhead of a large brick-and-mortar chain. Today's consumer also expects transparency and a modern fit, which BB has failed to provide (fits start at Gargantuan and taper down to Far Too Baggy)/ At the same time, fewer and fewer customers hew to the notion of paying more for a brand name, be it designer or "heritage", etc. if they are not bringing the quality.

          Charles Tyrwhitt is, I think, a good example of a company that's changed with the times (somewhat at least....I get that their paper catalogs and "sales" structure are a little 80's...) At this point, they offer perfectly decent shirts always available at under $50 shipped, and occasionally you'll get them for $30 or $35. 24/7 customer service, 6 month return policy, and otherwise modernized customer experience. Other companies put out slightly higher quality fabrics for a little more money, but operate on a similar model and are faring much better than BB.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Geo View Post
            I wonder/worry how Brooks Brothers closing their US factories will affect some of the small companies making US goods. I'm pretty sure they contract these factories to produce shirts and ties. I always thought that the New England Shirt Company and Ball and Buck used the Brooks Brother factory in Massachusetts to produce their oxfords and other companies use their New York factory for ties.
            Yeah I'm concerned about this too. I think one of these facilities is Southwick, isn't it? That would have a pretty significant impact to the tailored clothing market beyond Brooks. And I thought Garland made shirts for Michael Spencer and maybe Ratio (and maybe the ones you mentioned, which I'm not familiar with). Though when MS announced a temporary shutdown due to Covid, they referenced moving production to a new factory, so maybe they had warning on this.
            “There are moments, Jeeves, when one asks oneself, 'Do trousers matter?'"
            "The mood will pass, sir.”

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            • #21
              Originally posted by mcadamsandwich View Post
              Just saw this as well and sent it to Joe.
              Poor fella be gettin spammed.

              Equally stunned by this.

              Guess Spier is lookin better and better.
              https://www.professorhorseyhead.com

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              • #22
                Originally posted by nathan miller View Post
                I think ti's indicative of the larger market trend - younger companies have found ways to put better quality on offer at lower prices, being without the overhead of a large brick-and-mortar chain. Today's consumer also expects transparency and a modern fit, which BB has failed to provide (fits start at Gargantuan and taper down to Far Too Baggy)/ At the same time, fewer and fewer customers hew to the notion of paying more for a brand name, be it designer or "heritage", etc. if they are not bringing the quality.

                Charles Tyrwhitt is, I think, a good example of a company that's changed with the times (somewhat at least....I get that their paper catalogs and "sales" structure are a little 80's...) At this point, they offer perfectly decent shirts always available at under $50 shipped, and occasionally you'll get them for $30 or $35. 24/7 customer service, 6 month return policy, and otherwise modernized customer experience. Other companies put out slightly higher quality fabrics for a little more money, but operate on a similar model and are faring much better than BB.
                I think BB does have slim fits - their Milano fit is super slim, and even their Regent fit is pretty slim. I'm 5'8" and 150 lbs which puts me squarely in the normal body mass index range and their Regent fit shirts and sport coats...I wouldn't want them any slimmer. You'd have to be a toothpick to fit into a Milano IMO.

                BB's issue is that if you're not amongst the super rich, at least in the US, your income is probably not keeping up with the cost of living and hence everyone but the super rich has less disposable income than they did a couple decades back. BB's core demographic was always the modestly well off to borderline rich - your MD and lawyer and banker (non Wall Street) set. With the right practice/firm some of those guys do get downright rich but most are well off but couldn't just stop working and live on their savings for the rest of their lives. The super rich...they shop upmarket from BB (if they want to go trad they probably go J Press and other more niche prep outlets) and there aren't enough of them around to keep an outfit the size of BB going anyway. J Crew is experiencing the same squeeze.

                The generations that would now be entering their prime earning years and would be expected at this point to have the disposable income to shop BB...they're struggling, a lot of them. BB either has to get cheaper or shrink, or both. Part of getting cheaper is not making stuff in the US. Newer smaller companies can keep making stuff here - they don't need to move as much product and hence don't need to be quite as price conscious. BB is too big to not move a lot of merch.
                “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” – Mark Twain

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                • #23
                  I'm curious, and certain that a similar market study has been done, that what is the typical premium/surcharge (percentage-wise) an average American consumer (your typical middle class who's not swimming in money) is willing to pay for MiUSA clothing.

                  Everyone is patriotic but if qualities are the same/comparable (e.g. Spier), what's the acceptable price for keeping domestic manufacturing going?

                  In the meantime, Individualized Shirts is still going strong out of NJ.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by kongmw View Post
                    I'm curious, and certain that a similar market study has been done, that what is the typical premium/surcharge (percentage-wise) an average American consumer (your typical middle class who's not swimming in money) is willing to pay for MiUSA clothing.

                    Everyone is patriotic but if qualities are the same/comparable (e.g. Spier), what's the acceptable price for keeping domestic manufacturing going?

                    In the meantime, Individualized Shirts is still going strong out of NJ.
                    I've had similar questions, but consumer surveys are notoriously unreliable here because when surveyed consumers always express a willingness to pay a premium for MIUSA. However, consumer behavior simply does not support that consumer sentiment. It's the classic social science problem of stated preference vs. revealed preference wherein consumers' stated preference differs significantly from their observed behavior. So yeah, everyone says they're willing to pay more for MIUSA until the bills come due. Especially when, as demonstrated in this thread (i.e., SM), competitors offer foreign-made goods at identical quality but lower price points.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by garryowen47 View Post

                      I've had similar questions, but consumer surveys are notoriously unreliable here because when surveyed consumers always express a willingness to pay a premium for MIUSA. However, consumer behavior simply does not support that consumer sentiment. It's the classic social science problem of stated preference vs. revealed preference wherein consumers' stated preference differs significantly from their observed behavior. So yeah, everyone says they're willing to pay more for MIUSA until the bills come due. Especially when, as demonstrated in this thread (i.e., SM), competitors offer foreign-made goods at identical quality but lower price points.
                      I sense a fellow economist. Speaking for myself, I was willing to buy the Flint and Tinder 10 year hoodie and their 365 pant, which when I bought the 2 pairs I have were still made in the USA. I think BR and J Crew at the time were retailing their chinos for around $80, but of course they got a lot cheaper with a discount code, but $80 full price for Chinese made vs. $98 for MiUSA...I was willing to spend the extra $18.
                      “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” – Mark Twain

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by mark4 View Post

                        I sense a fellow economist. Speaking for myself, I was willing to buy the Flint and Tinder 10 year hoodie and their 365 pant, which when I bought the 2 pairs I have were still made in the USA. I think BR and J Crew at the time were retailing their chinos for around $80, but of course they got a lot cheaper with a discount code, but $80 full price for Chinese made vs. $98 for MiUSA...I was willing to spend the extra $18.
                        Guess that's the point. If the price difference is not much, people are willing to pay the premium for the "Made in USA" tag. I am an Indian living in Canada and so I don't really have that patriotic fervour some others do, when it comes to goods made in the U.S. So I will gravitate towards the cheaper alternative, provided quality is comparable.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by mark4 View Post
                          I sense a fellow economist.
                          Public policy! Close enough?

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                          • #28
                            All this MiUSA talk reminds me of a recent experience. I’ve always been a fan of Buck Mason t-shirts for two reasons. First, because they just fit my body type really well, and the second reason was because they were MiUSA. At $35 each they weren’t the cheapest t-shirts but I was okay with that for the above reasons. However, during a recent sale a few months back I ordered a couple more only to discover when they arrived that they are now made in China (according to their customer service dept they now make several of their products in China). They still fit the same but sadly there is a pretty noticeable difference in the quality of the shirt. The new made in China ones are thinner and just flat out cheaper feeling. If they hadn’t been 50% off I would have returned them immediately. I know this isn’t the case 100% of the time, but in my experience something MiUSA will be of a slightly higher quality and last longer than something made overseas more often than not.

                            All this is to say that as one consumer I’ll always be willing to pay a little more for something made here in America. Maybe that’s financially foolish or maybe it’s just blind patriotism. But knowing that I’m doing a very small part in keeping someone employed so they can earn a living and possibly support a family makes me feel good and is well worth it in my opinion. It also helps that I feel like I’m getting a better made product as well.
                            Last edited by abh159; May 23rd, 2020, 11:31 AM.

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by abh159 View Post
                              They still fit the same but sadly there is a pretty noticeable difference in the quality of the shirt. The new made in China ones are thinner and just flat out cheaper feeling. If they hadn’t been 50% off I would have returned them immediately. I know this isn’t the case 100% of the time, but in my experience something MiUSA will be of a slightly higher quality and last longer than something made overseas more often than not.
                              I think in this case the lower quality cannot be attributed to the product being made in China. Clearly Buck Mason made a conscious decision to not only make their t-shirts in China, but also use lower quality raw materials. If the brand wants to, they can always pick the right raw materials and still get the manufacturing done in China for a good quality product, e.g, S&M.

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                              • #30
                                I saw this somewhere else but I'll steal it and re-phrase: "made-in-china (or insert your favorite low labor cost country here) is only as good/bad as how much/little time and effort the US (or insert your favorite high labor cost country here)-based company is willing to spend in getting it made right."

                                S&M and Grant Stone (even Meermin?) demonstrate that you can absolutely make great clothing/shoes at a lower cost out of India and China.

                                But of course we all are free to spend our money the best way we see fit.

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