An Interview with Brooks Brothers’
At over 200 years old, Brooks Brothers is a legend in the apparel industry. Recently, the iconic brand appointed industry veteran Michael Bastian to lead the brand into a new era. Here, we talk to Bastian on the label’s new look and some of his favorite pieces from the new collection.
With your celebrated and impressive resume in the industry, there was a lot of excitement when news broke of your appointment as the creative director of Brooks Brothers. Tell us about what led you to fashion and how your career brought you to this iconic brand.
“After graduating from Babson College in the ’80s, I moved to New York and worked as an assistant buyer for a retailer. I quickly realized that wasn’t the path I wanted to pursue, so I got a job as a fashion assistant for a small luxury magazine. That set my career direction. I worked for Ralph Lauren, Bergdorf Goodman, Gant, and I started my own menswear brand, where I designed many of these iconic pieces that I couldn’t find anywhere. I feel like I’ve been working my way to becoming the creative director of this brand and believe I’m the luckiest guy to be part of a company with such a unique and long history.”
As the country’s oldest continually operating clothing brand, Brooks Brothers has such a storied history. How will you use the brand’s archives to inform your designs?
“The brand’s archives really form the foundation of my collection. I’ve been going back to old catalogs and reintroducing and innovating all these fantastic pieces that I know everyone will love.”
From your debut collection, there is already a decidedly new feel at Brooks Brothers. Can you tell me about the direction you want to steer the brand? What will Michael Bastian’s Brooks Brothers look like?
“A big part of my vision for Brooks Brothers is to bring back sportswear and the iconic items that our fans have missed in recent years. Some naturally think of Brooks Brothers as a go-to for their suits, ties, and dress shirts, but you will find amazing sportswear pieces if you look back in our archives. We are really bringing these to the forefront.”
The Fall/Winter 21 collection seemed to be a celebration of classic Americana. In your opinion, what defines the storied American style, and why is Brooks Brothers such a hallmark of it?
“Brooks Brothers has been around for over 200 years, and over two centuries we have either invented or introduced America to some of the most remarkable menswear pieces, like the button-down shirt, navy blazer, and others. Even the off-the-rack suit was first sold at Brooks Brothers, and we were the first to adapt clothes designed for playing sports into everyday wear. American style is all about personal style.”
What else can you tell us about this latest collection and what the brand’s loyal base will discover?
“My latest collection was inspired by the early photographic studies of animals in motion by Eadweard Muybridge — particularly his documentation of horse locomotion. There’s naturally a very preppy East Coast/New England spirit and also a great story of one of the Brooks brothers’ grandsons, who owned a horse ranch in Wyoming called Valley Ranch.”
In an ever-changing world and industry, fashion has had to continually evolve, especially as of late. How do you plan to revamp and evolve the brand for today’s society? What can we expect from the brand in the years ahead?
“I plan to continue this path by always bringing fresh ideas while also respecting the brand’s rich heritage.”
“For my debut season as the Brooks Brothers creative director, I decided to bring back all the brand items I grew up loving.”
Cashmere Blend Hoody
“This hoody is an item that you won’t be able to take off once you wear it.”
“It is incredibly comfortable, and you can wear it with a denim jacket and loafers.”
Corduroy Sport Jacket
“You can dress it up or down, and it functions as outerwear during fall. Ours has unique leather buttons with a cool martingale belt in the back.”
“Another iconic item that makes any look more layered and luxe.”
Bengal Broadcloth Striped Shirt
“This was the first shirt I ever bought from Brooks Brothers, and it pairs well with jeans and a corduroy jacket.”
Quilted Walking Coat
“A staple you can wear throughout fall and spring. It looks good with jeans, cords, OCBDs, and even over a suit.”
Oxford Cloth Button Down
“The ‘OCBD’ is an item that Brooks Brothers invented in 1900 and something everyone should have in their closet. It goes with everything you wear and only gets better the more you wear and wash it.”