Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Brooks Brothers Toronto

Pop quiz: Who invented business casual, the blazer, and the buttoned-down shirt?
Did you guess Dr. Evil's father? No, he only invented the exclamation point.

The answer is Brooks Brothers, at least according to their CEO and chairman, Claudio del Vecchio.

The Globe & Mail had an interesting interview with Mr. del Vecchio, in which he discussed the history of the iconic 180-year old American brand, now owned by an Italian company: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/managing/we-invented-business-casual/article1270260/

The occasion for the interview was the opening of flagship store in downtown Toronto in the Royal Bank tower (Wellington and Bay). This is the just the second store opening in Canada (the first store was opened in Vancouver).
Unfortunately, despite its status in America, I don't think the brand has much standing in Canada (yet). I suppose the most likely explanation for this is the the fact that no store existed in Canada prior to this year.
Canadians know and love BB's sexier cousin, Polo Ralph Lauren , so I have no doubt that they'll take a similar liking to Brooks Brothers.
I believe the decision to open a store in the heart of Bay Street makes a lot of sense. Lots of lawyers, bankers and accountants = lots of navy and grey suits.
I also think that the store occupies a previously unoccupied niche in Canadian menswear. We never really had a menswear brand per se. If you need an essential menswear item, there's a good bet that you can find it at Brooks Brothers.

I decided to check out the store this afternoon along with a co-worker of mine (given that we work across the street). I was very impressed with the store and its staff. I even snapped some photos of the storefront windows (on Bay st.) and inside the Royal Bank plaza:

The space and design of the store is very impressive. The store is huge and it makes for easy browsing of a very large variety of merchandise. My favorite room, not surprisingly, was the Black Fleece label designed by Thom Browne. I was very pleased to see such a large Black Fleece collection.

I also really got along well with two salesmen, Jeffrey (sp?) and Donovan. Both of those guys have years of retail experience with luxury brands and really love clothes. Their knowledge and passion for clothes is evident. If you shop there, I'd ask for one or other of them.

Happy Shopping!

-The scandal

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