After the FIT Ivy exhibition, I had a chance to meet Claudio Del Vecchio at a cocktail reception thrown by the show's curator, Patricia Mears. Del Vecchio narrowed his eyes in mock seriousness, leaned over me and whispered in a deep bass, "So whaz'a wrong with Italian department stores?" My first thought was, "Sonuvabitch, he read my post." I stammered and said, "There's nothing wrong with Italian department stores -- So long as they're not at 346 Madison Avenue."
He could have been an asshole but wasn't. Surprisingly, Del Vecchio was a complete gentleman, and having worked with a lot of the high-net-worth, that's most unusual. We had a very nice talk and I learned he loses money on my favorite gotta-iron oxford button down made in Garland, NC. "Own Make" was a term used by Brooks Brothers to distinguish apparel made in its own work rooms. Shirts in Garland. Ties, once on the eighth floor of 346, but now in Long Island City (Queens), and tailored clothing in Brooklyn.
Brooks is bringing the label back with shirts and ties still being made in NC and NYC but with suits, sport coats and trousers being made by Southwick in Massachusetts. It's good looking and it looks to be extraordinarily well made -- With guts and soul and a cut big enough for the over-40 crowd who requires their jacket to cover their rear. In short, no gimmicks or tricks. Straightforward, reserved, quiet. I pray it's priced with the same respect and thought that went into the making of it but there's no pricing at this time.
The Italian department store? That's for tomorrow.