Brooks Brothers Flatiron Shop
Last week Brooks Brothers opened its latest Flatiron Shop in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with seven locations in North America and three internationally. As a vintage enthusiast I usually don’t take too much of an interest in new retail openings but Brooks Brothers is different. Between the period Mad Men suits and Gatsby costumes, it’s been hard to get away from them lately, and with continuous operation since 1818, it is truly impossible to talk vintage menswear without mentioning Brooks Brothers…a lot. I confess I know next to nothing of the company’s vast history and influence, although in the course of Company Man buying, selling, and research, I’ve come across many interesting Brooks Brothers suits, ties, shirts, shoes, and sweaters from the sixties through today, and just as many prior iterations of the brand including Brooks University, Brooks Gate, Brooks Ease, Brooks 346, Brooks English, and on. The Flatiron concept offers University-inspired menswear and womenswear that is dressed down by Brooks Brothers standards and perfectly suited to a well-heeled Northern college town.
Our very own Flatiron Shop still had that new store smell inside and carried an ample collection of fall offerings. Added to the obligatory smattering of bow ties and blazers–their collars all popped to show the solid under-construction in crimson wool–I saw shawl neck argyle sweaters, cashmere and shetland wool, down vests with leather shoulders, patchwork tweed flat caps, suspenders emblazoned with foxes or fishing flies. The store carried a good selection of Red Wings boots (not the same “Red Wings” many Michiganders might think of first), and I was told that a Red Wings trunk show with giveaways was imminent. The male sales associate that helped me was wonderfully knowledgeable and forthcoming about both the clothes and company history. He also told me to expect the shop to carry Brooks Brothers’ acclaimed “Black Fleece” line by Thom Browne, although the only pieces in stock so far were a selection of repp silk ties. If you have your heart set on a classic Brooks Brothers suit, four- and six-week “suiting programs” are offered that allow a customer to be measured for his suit on site with a 4-6 week turnaround for off site tailoring (before a final fitting with any last-minute alterations also made off site). There is a women’s collection, but menswear remains the clear emphasis and takes up 70% of the space, which includes a second floor lounge with leather sofa and flat screen TV, primed for the next big game. To honor U of M, there was even a navy blue and gold themed rack of clothing that included a stack of sweaters embroidered with the Michigan logo.
If you plan to visit, the store is located in the new Arbor Hills shopping plaza off Washtenaw Avenue at Platt Road.