With the resurgence of Made in America in our menswear vernacular, many people are digging deeper to see who is actually working in the US and who simply has a well known American brand yet is still producing overseas. Granted, some of these mega brands can’t shut down all of their foreign factories just to appease us. But the consumer does have some level of trust in a brand and hopes that they will at least make the effort to some degree.
Brooks Brothers is a perfect example of this. Since the heritage boom began Brooks was one of the first that enthusiasts ballyhooed. Founded in 1818 in New York City, it is an iconic brand worn by everyone from Presidents Lincoln to Roosevelt (Teddy and Franklin!) and Kennedy as well as written about by F.Scott Fitzgerald. They are also a massive company and much of their stock is indeed made overseas (in well managed factories that they own and control which is another story altogether!).
One thing that has always been made in America, however, is Brooks Brothers ties. Over in Long Island City, 20 minutes from midtown Manhattan, ties have been cut, sewn and sent out for decades.
We took a tour of the factory last week and were amazed on so many levels. Firstly, we were gobsmacked that we were the first. It’s been here forever but nobody really talks about it. Secondly, the enthusiasm of the staff was incredible. These are people who truly love their jobs. We had tailors who shook our hand with a smile, seamstresses who were laughing and posed for pictures and we saw quality control managers with a bounce in their step.
Here is what else we took away from the experience:
– Every retail (opposed to outlet) tie has some part of it made by hand.
Brooks Brothers has five tie collections:
– Brooks Brothers
– Golden Fleece (the premium tie line with hand made seven fold ties)
– Red Fleece (for the collegiate/young crowd)
– Fleece (boys)
– Black Fleece by Brooks Brothers (designed by Thom Browne)
– The company makes ties for many other brands we all know and love (we must keep that anonymous!) But it helps build the brand on the wholesale side and lets the other brands tout their Made in America angle too.
-Bow ties are actually incredibly difficult to make since they are so small and have so much construction. Brooks Brothers doesn’t charge more for bow ties though since consumers usually don’t understand ‘more money for less fabric.
-Cummerbunds are also pleated by hand. Every one!
-Nothing goes to waste in the factory. We noticed the scraps from previous collections were used to tie up bundles of ties as they went through each process. They also use scraps to make key chains and other accessories that are beautifully finished.
-Brooks Brothers has a master tailor on premises. Mario works on many custom pieces for wholesale and military too.
-Since 1935 Brooks Brothers has been tailoring uniforms for senior enlisted men and officers. They continue to do so and offer the “Dress Blue” uniform for Naval officers as well as tailored dress uniforms available at the US Naval Exchange.
For more behind the scenes pictures check out our Instagram account.