Monday, August 10, 2009

Brand Awareness

Brooks Brothers

A preppy mainstay since 1818, anyone who attended prep school on the East Coast of the United States over the last 75 years will have worn Brooks with pride from birth to death. Brooks boasts perhaps the finest off-the-rack suits in the world and with over 280 locations worldwide (210 in the ‘States), it is readily accessible, and the customer service is always top drawer.

J. Press

Similar in style to Brooks Brothers, however with only four stores, J. Press offers a level of exclusivity that differentiates it from Brooks. It is heavily influenced by a traditional Ivy League attitude and style and has a cache among the right circles that place it top among US preppy brands.

Vineyard Vines

Vineyard Vines is a new comer to the scene having only opened in 1998, it came onto the scene with nautical inspired ties that appealed to New England sensibilities for everyone who summered in the Vineyard, Nantucket, or the Cape in their youth. It has since expanded to include everything from polos (boasting their signature whale insignia), to blazers, to shorts, and brilliant belts.

Polo Ralph Lauren

Polo despite its strong sales has slowly been corrupted. Ralph Lauren (aka Ralph Lifshitz), ironically got his start as a tie-salesman at Brooks Brothers and was clearly influenced by this work. In recent years with the advent of the so-called “Big Pony,” Polo has become too garish, though their Black label suits are still good albeit over-priced. Stick to their basic Polo shirts, chinos, and sport shirts.


Lacoste was nearly destroyed as a brand in the United States thanks to their ill-fated acquisition by Izod, who to put it kindly ran the brand into the ground. In the UK on the other hand, due to extensive fakes on the market, have along with sadly Burberry, to become the domain of Chavs (for American readers think urban white trash with heavy drinking and violence problems). In the US the brand has recovered nicely and I personally love the fit of their polos, in the UK give it a miss.

J. Crew

Finally among the American brands, we have J Crew. Their suits and anything remotely dressy is over-priced and not worth it remotely. J Crew is a casual wear company, don’t trust any store that doesn’t have their own tailor or one nearby to do your suits. Their casual wear can be a good value, in fact I purchased a seersucker suit from them some years ago and it has held up through Henley and multiple carnage filled garden parties.

Jack Wills / Aubin & Wills

Jack Wills (aimed at teenagers and university aged persons) and Aubin & Wills (targeted at late 20-somethings on up) are British brands and self-proclaimed “outfitters to the gentry.” Their casual wear is comparable to J. Crew if not a step up. They also offer interesting Henley blazers that appeal to many and annoy actual rowers to no end.


A fantastic British brand that take care of their customers, have links with Oxford and Cambridge Boat Clubs, London Rowing Club, and Army Polo. They also stand by their workmanship and even years after purchasing a yachting blazer, they sewed new buttons free and with a smile. This is on par with any top quality brand in the UK and the quality of their product is easily on par to Brooks Brothers and Polo Black Label.


Lastly we come to Crew. Not to be confused with J. Crew, Crew is a distinctly English brand with a heavy influence from rowing culture. Their polos and sport shirts fit well and their jumpers (sweaters) are reasonably priced.

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