Menswear, for all intents and purposes, is pretty fucking old. Even though its recent boom has helped bring the oft-ignored subset of the fashion industry to the forefront of more people's minds, we still have brands that have been around for more than hundreds of years. And with the speed and turnover of fashion becoming quicker by the minute, how do those brands actually stay relevant? WWD spoke to some of the iconic old school menswear brands about staying modern, but also staying true to their roots.
A place like Brooks Brothers has been around for nearly 200 years—197 to be exact—and it isn't just surviving off the strength of southern frat bros whose wardrobes are exclusively Polo, BB and Vineyard Vines. The Thom Browne designed Black and Red Fleece collections helped push the brand into the current era, even though they're coming to a close this fall. But the brand has also updated its cuts. Just a few years ago, 80% of the shirts it sold were "full" cut, whereas now 75% are slim or extra-slim. Even though trends constantly ebb and flow, small adjustments can be enough to keep a brand moving forward. Paul Stuart did something similar with its Phineas Cole line, updating fits and sizing to keep it relevant among consumers.
Shit, even good old Men's Wearhouse did work, acquiring Joseph Abboud and Jos A. Bank to become the stronghold in the world of regular dude's suits. Abboud has since become a whopping 20% of the company's sales. We like to poke fun at these sort of brands, mostly because we're assholes, but how they've adapted is really a hallmark of successful business strategy. You don't necessarily have to change the product offering, just how it's offered. Voila! It's working.