Cindy Novotny

The Italian Job

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I have spent several weeks in Italy over the past few months and in addition to the love of their food, fashion, history and art, I am enjoying their creativity and innovation more than ever.  ‘The Italian Job’ always reminds me of the 2003 American remake of the 1969 British film of the same name.  A team of thieves plan to steal gold from a former associate and although it is a remake, the plot and characters definitely differ from those in the original film - taking you to my story today.

For 200 years, Brooks Brothers has created the classic American suit.  I purchased my first Brooks Brothers item 39 years ago when I bought a briefcase there for my boyfriend – now known as my husband Lefty!  At that time it was a big ticket item for me and I had the best time in the store choosing my gift.  Now all these years later, he still has the case, we have the memories and Brooks Brothers is taking on their next chapter. 

With a renewed focus on made to measure, a veteran of Milanese menswear is bringing Italian spirit to the heritage brand.  While in Milan, Lefty and I visited several fine gentlemen clothing boutiques.  Lefty is the guy who no matter how casual business becomes, he is always booted and suited.  *Brooks Brothers Heritage

Lucky for Lefty, he is always in fashion as suits have changed much in 200 years.  Jacket, vest, tie and trousers.  Shoulders have risen; 2 button, 3 button, 1 button lapels; pleats have come and gone and are back again.  The American version has always been a representation of Italian and British flair. 

In 1818 Henry S. Brooks invented the button-down collar and “off the rack” suits and has dressed American conservatives from Abraham Lincoln to Don Draper.  Today, the brand is owned by Claudio delVecchio, son of the founder of the Italian Luxottiaeyewear conglomerate since 2001.  So what is the next chapter of American Suits?

Made to Measure!  Matteo Cavaliere is the new Director of Brooks Brothers Made to Measure program which offers custom suits starting around $2,000.  People today want luxury and they are not afraid to pay for it.  If you are not comfortable in whatever you are wearing, you will never look elegant.  You can’t fake this.

So back to my story and how this is about your business and mine.  ‘The Italian Job’ remake was different but kept the same bones of the original story.  Brooks Brothers’ DNA is woven into the fabric of every suit and that legacy is being kept alive in America with Italian leaders.  When Cavaliere is asked who is better at designing suits, Americans or Italians, he always tells the same story...  “Italian fashion is where it is because of America.  After the Second World War many Italian tailors came to America to work in the apparel industry.  Many returned to Italy with American industrial know-how thus improving their native lands tailoring industry.”  “We want to keep this exchange program working and the tradition of classic tailoring alive.”

When many people think that the traditional, conservative ideas and looks of the past are not for the younger generation, they need to think again.  Companies that produce fast fashion with low prices and only a casual look like the Amsterdam company, ‘Suitsupply’, are losing market share.  Luxury retailers are seeing a swing of younger consumers buying classic looks that will last a lifetime. 

So as you consider throwing all the ‘old fashion rules’ out the window for high-tech technology solutions that take the human element out of your business, just remember how this company is going through an evolution not a revolution and has lasted 200 years. 

I must say Lefty looked very up market this month as we traveled through Europe wearing his suit with a waistcoat.  Classic is always in style.

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