NEW YORK – In between New York Fashion Week shows, we had a chance to pop over to Brooks Brothers' Madison Avenue flagship to check out the brand's spring and summer 2014 offerings.
We're glad we did, since the collection was full of fun little details, from allover embroidered pink flamingos to patchwork jacket linings that needed to be seen up close to be fully appreciated.
The inspiration: "[T]he artists, intellectuals and jet-setters who, from the 1920s through the 1950s, found themselves equally at home whether in Connecticut, Cuba or the Cote d'Azure," according to the collection notes. "We imagined Hemingway in Cuba in the '50s, writing his masterpiece 'The Old Man and the Sea.'"
The look: That translated to lots of tropical madras, beachy whites and washed-out colors, garment-dyed pieces in comfortable brushed cottons. For those wishing to channel Papa in particular, there is also a cable-knit sweater pulled from Brooks' archives, which, if not the same style the author is often seen wearing in photos (he was a customer of the clothier), is very, very close to it.
There were lots of colorful, playful riffs on dressier Brooks Brothers classics too – inspired by the peripatetic party posse of F. Scott Fitzgerald and the merry band of American expats who moved between Paris and the Riviera in the '20s – including seersucker trousers with an allover highball glass embroidery (which, in my opinion, would immediately entitle the wearer to a summer's worth of "drinks on me" jokes down at the yacht club).
Key pieces: There was a lot to look at — and a lot to like — but there were a couple of standouts to look for next spring, most notably the aforementioned seeresucker trousers and a blue-and-white anchor-pattern sweater that's, wait for it, both nautical and nice. There was also a necktie that keyed into one of the season's overarching trends, camouflage, but in a Brooks-appropriate way by marrying it with a candy-stripe fabric.
The verdict: For spring and summer 2014, Brooks Brothers is managing to stay true to its brand DNA but keep things fresh by adding fun little lighthearted details that can be appreciated where it matters most — up close and personal.