Just this season Brooks Brothers re-released their classic OCBD. Quoting directly from the Brooks Brothers site -
"Some legends need no introduction. Our iconic Original Polo® Button-Down Oxford is one of them. Invented by us in 1900 and known by menswear aficionados as the OCBD (Oxford cloth button down), this is one of the most imitated pieces in fashion history. Now the classic is back, exactly as it's best remembered, with its distinctive collar roll, relaxed fit, signature 6 pleat shirring at the cuff, and a substantial fabric that will break in and get better with each wash. Button-down collar; button-front; signature 6-Pleat Shirring®; buttoned barrel cuffs Regular finish 100% cotton; machine wash; imported."
Much has been written about the trials and tribulations of Brooks Brothers, there is no need for me to review it all here. It has been common knowledge that Michael Bastian took over at Brooks Brothers this past year and many of us have been waiting to see what direction he would take with the company. This past year there was an instagram post from Bastian all about the Brooks OCBD and his fond memories of this classic. This obviously piqued my interest in a very strong way. The OCBD in this review appears to be the culmination of the effort begun in the instagram post. Wasting no more time, let's get to the review.
I ordered 2 of the old-new (?) university stripe OCBDs made in this re-release. I chose pink and brown. The fact they have a brown university stripe is fantastic. This is a very rare color to find in a university stripe, I was totally floored they had it. I love a perfect pink university stripe and so I couldn't resist. They are additionally offering blue, green, yellow and red in the university stripe. The brown is a very muted, cold brown. It is not a warm reddish brown. It is almost, ever so close to a grey, yet it isn't. I love they have this and I love this shirt already, and I have only had it for a few hours.
To get right to the point, these shirts are nice, very nice. The fabric is thick and beefy. This fabric is thicker than that which was used for the OCBDs they were selling for the past 3 or 4 years. These are going to last and feel better and better as the years go by. They seem to only be offering alpha sizing (s,m,l,xl) in this model. No dress shirt sizing (15.5 /33, 16/32 etc...)...yet. The fit of is like that of the Madison fit. It is absolutely a relaxed traditional fit. This is not a slim, skinny, tight fitting shirt. It is roomy, relaxed and traditional. This is absolutely fantastic. This is indeed classic and traditional. Resisting the push toward undersized overly tight shirts seems impossible these days, yet with this shirt they resisted this trend.
As you can see these have a nice, full collar. The collar point comes in at just under 3.5 inches, the same size as the shirts from a few years back. It feels as though the collar buttons are ever so slightly lower which results in a slightly less curvy roll and one a bit more similar to J. Press.
The length of the shirt is 31.25 in the back. This is a very fine length. I generally prefer 33 inches in the back because I cannot stand when your shirt comes untucked unintentionally. I also understand though, most do not like their shirt that long. My J. Press shirts are 31.75, these are 31.25. This is a great length on these shirts. I don't consider these too short. I was concerned they would be too short because the trend in men's clothing today is always going the way of untucking and I was concerned they would chop these off on the bottom. But, it looks like Bastian kept it on the right track and gave us some good length. This is very good.
These shirts are alpha sized and technically called sport shirts on the Brooks Brothers website, but there is no button on the sleeve placket. Generally a distinction on Brooks' shirts in the past has been that their dress shirts have no button on the sleeve placket and their sports shirts do have a button on the sleeve placket. I love that these do not have a button. This is another piece of wonderful proof that Bastian was trying to keep the tradition. There is a nice size pocket on the left breast, as you can see. Many people were very irritated that for the past few years most of the bonafide OCBDs from Brooks didn't have a left breast pocket. They brought back the pocket on these. Again, another great move. Very nice size as well. Not too small.
The only actual negative that I see about these shirts is that they are not made in the USA. That being said, maybe if they were made in the USA they would be more expensive, and maybe it would limit the potential owners, I don't know. It's tough. Any other negatives I could drum up are not really negatives. They are just incredibly niche wants from a purist. What would these be? I would have loved to see a locker loop on the back and a back collar button as well. Those two elements really are not particularly impactful though, they are just little intricate hopes from an OCBD purist. I am not going to pretend these are meaningful negatives, I am not into being overly nit-picky in that kind of hyper-niche way.
In conclusion, I have to say that these are great shirts. To review it all in a brief way and get right to it - with these new shirts we have a thick, beefy fabric offered in all of the classics (and some), full traditional relaxed fit sizing, a nice appropriate length and a big beautiful collar with nice full collar points. Is there anything else that we could really ask for? To my mind, this is a true success and I really respect Bastian for keeping this alive and bringing back this traditional offering, against all odds, for us lovers of the Trad/Ivy/Prep tradition.