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Brooks Brothers Lightens Up for Fall

Brooks Brothers is getting soft. From its first unconstructed sport coats to its washed oxford shirts, the retailer’s fall collection reflects a lighter mood.

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Brooks Brothers is getting soft.

This story first appeared in the February 18, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

From its first unconstructed sport coats to its washed oxford dress shirts, the retailer’s fall collection reflects a new, lighter mood.

“It’s all about how soft and unconstructed it can be,” said Lou Amendola, chief merchandising officer. The sport coat is unlined and has no shoulder pads, he said, a piece that is “totally new for us.” It will be offered in navy, herringbone, tweed and corduroy.

In the tailored area, the overriding theme of the season for both men and women is shades of gray, accented by pink/purple or teal, Amendola said. The highlighted suit silhouette is the Milano, the most-fitted of Brooks’ models, featuring plain-front trousers, slant pockets and a narrower lapel.

Almost one-third of the neckwear offerings this season are also skinny — 2 7/8 inches — and shirts feature bold stripes in gingham or with white contrasting collars. The women’s wear consists of chic, trim trousers and pencil skirts paired with belted sweaters or close-fitting, shapely jackets.

In sportswear, “It’s all about the cardigan and the vest,” Amendola said. The entire collection evokes images of the “country lady and gentleman” who hunt, fish or hike outdoors. Buffalo-check sport shirts, shearling gloves, hats and lined boots are offered, along with washed lambswool sweaters.

“Whether formal or sportswear, there are many more relaxed elements,” Amendola said. “It’s not uptight.”

Another first is the introduction of a capsule collection for July/August delivery dedicated to the college audience.

“We never addressed the back to college business before.” Amendola said, pointing to the washed pima oxford shirts, lightly brushed flannel shirts, placket polos and cotton argyle sweaters. All of the items in this collection feature slimmer fits and more lightweight fabrics to address the need for “wear-now” merchandise.

Amendola also revealed that for the first time this fall, the company will test home products. “It’s an experiment for us,” he said. “Is there an appetite for a Brooks Brothers Home Collection? We’re going to try it and see what happens.”

The company will dabble in pillows, bedding, towels and “home accents” such as lamp shades, he said. Some of the merchandise will be on display at the retailer’s flagships, and will be sold on the Internet.

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