Last month, Macy’s began selling a Brooks Brothers sub-brand dubbed “B by Brooks Brothers” online and in 45 stores, a Macy’s spokesperson said by email. The collection, which includes fashion and core suit separates, chino pants, a classic navy blazer, topcoats and dress shirts, is currently only at Macy’s, but is not exclusive to the department store, the spokesperson said.
Brooks Brothers brand owner Authentic Brands Group didn’t immediately respond to questions about whether “B by Brooks Brothers” is a more affordable line. The Macy’s spokesperson would only say that it “provides high quality and value.”
Compared with similar items from Brooks Brothers itself, the new label appears to be priced lower. “B by Brooks Brothers” items, for example, are priced below similar Brooks Brothers items at Nordstrom.
Items also feature textile blends not usually associated with the high-end fabrics typical of the two-century old American brand. “B by Brooks Brothers” jackets and pants are made of a wool blend that includes polyester and viscose, while comparable Brooks Brothers items at Nordstrom are made of 100% wool. The new “B by Brooks Brothers” items are all made “with elevated fabrications and quality craftsmanship that are synonymous with the brand,” according to the Macy’s spokesperson.
“The B by Brooks Brothers line is grounded in fashionably classic wardrobe staples and is an exciting collaboration between two brands both foundationally committed to delivering quality product to the consumer,” the spokesperson also said.
Creating a value option could actually help the Brooks Brothers brand, though success isn’t guaranteed, experts say.
“For boomers like me, Brooks Brothers was one of the truly great menswear brands. While I'm not surprised to see this initiative, it will be a question of whether or not it resonates with younger generations,” Jeffrey Sward, founding partner of Merchandising Metrics, said by email. “Starting with suitings and dress furnishings makes perfect sense to me. Thats where the brand heritage comes from. Better sportswear will be tougher to execute in this market, but Macy's needs all the differentiation it can get.”
The new Brooks Brothers effort could be good news for both Macy’s and the brand’s new owners. Authentic and Simon Property Group bought the classic men’s apparel brand three years ago out of bankruptcy. Authentic owns and licenses the brand, while Sparc Group (an entity co-owned by Authentic and Simon) runs its operations.
“It's ‘A for effort’ stuff,” Sward said. “Now it's about execution and a little patience.”
However, Macy’s may not be the ideal choice for that effort, according to Liza Amlani, a retail strategist and professor of fashion management at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
“Aligning with a mass retailer to sell products at a lower price point could be exactly what this dated brand needs,” she said by email. “However, aligning with Macy’s may not be the best partner, as this retailer is struggling. Designing and developing an entire product range to only see it fail will hurt Brooks Brothers.”
The line could soon be sold elsewhere, including J.C. Penney, which is also co-owned by Simon Property Group and has previously featured other Authentic- and Sparc-owned brands. However, that retailer is also struggling. An Authentic spokesperson said that there's no plan at the moment to bring B by Brooks Brothers to Penney.