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Does anyone know if Ralph Lauren MTM offers sack suit options?

4711 Views 20 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  rl1856
From what I've seen in 2010 they had OTR jackets with standard sack features. Today they offer soft 3/2 rolls via RRL and a "Polo soft coat" with only a soft shoulder.

At some point this year I'd like to pay them a visit but my research has come up empty on what jacket models they offer in their program.

Where I live I can get a great price on H.Freeman MTM but their Nat VI is not a true 3/2, I used to work at BB and don't trust their product, and I'm in California so I don't plan on making it out to J.Press or O'Connells.

If anyone has any experience with Ralph Lauren MTM in the past few years I'd appreciate any feedback.
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I would contact Southwick and ask who their retail partners are in your area. They definitely offer MTM and a reasonable price. Their Douglas pattern remains a standard option.
I see many Anglo-Traditional influences, along with what I would describe as American Equestrian/ Point to Point / Ivy Hunting similarities. In a macro sense, this thread reinforces the similarities between the upper classes in Europe and the US.

At one time, my wife and I were on the periphery of a group of young European expats...they pejoratively referred to themselves as Eurotrash. In reality these were the well educated offspring of European diplomats and old money families. We were all young, doing with other similarly minded young adults do at that point of their lives. Their attire was almost uniformly American Trad based, but with distinctive European influences. They looked much like some of the people depicted in this thread. I recall many a drunken evening in their company, and a memorable conversation with the son of the Belgian representative to the Hague Conferences that created the EU. He confided that his father was in favor of the concept but privately believed it would be impossible to erase centuries of international rivalry with the stroke of a pen.
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Regarding Made in the USA, a point to consider is manufacturing cost. The previous owner stated that the traditional BB OCBD was sold at a loss. BB moved to a premium price level to justify selling their Made in the USA shirt. This shirt sold fairly well for them, and I understood they mostly sold out of the first few runs of the shirt. My recent visit highlighted that many price points are now lower than when under previous ownership. This is a result of manufacturing overseas, and (I believe) a conscious effort to move price points down to attract younger buyers.

Why has BB aggressively abandoned their client base ?

Associated issues are changing demographics and aging of their core customer. We can point to years or eras when BB started to decline. Regardless of where one places the inflection point, the almost wholesale changeover to corporate casual dress codes had a significant impact. Within a 5yr period, many workers went from a need for 4-6 suits, with associated shirts and ties, to a need for 1 suit and maybe a sport coat. Their basic working wardrobe devolved to Khakis or similar trousers, with a polo or open necked shirt. Eventually the pendulum had swung so far towards casual that several low-med level men's stores began to offer rental suits, much as one would rent formal attire. No need to buy a suit for that "one wedding" or some one's funeral.... This niche became a significant revenue source because there were enough men who no longer needed to own a suit. Contrast this mindset with that of their father or grandfather, who likely wore a suit every day when they entered the workforce.

The heyday of Ivy occurred at a time when successful men were depicted in the media wearing Ivy/Trad or similar attire. This is what was expected if one wanted to conform to expectations. As we moved farther away from that period, requirements and expectations become more diverse and inclusive. You no longer needed a 3r2 NS Sack to be "correctly" attired. BB and others continued on but in an environment that was increasingly moving away from them. The 70's were difficult, but the early 80's brought a resurgence which lasted until early 90's before the changeover to corporate casual began to take hold. This period coincided with the beginning of the slow age related decline of their core customer base. Eventually BB realized that one must adapt or perish. The problem was that by adapting BB become a commodity goods store with high price points. As their clothing become more generic, they lost what made them unique.
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Eagle2250 and drdpeter: Thank YOU for your kind words and follow up replies. It appears that we are all active in the virtual world, to a greater or lessor extent. Speaking personally, I value forums where people can discuss and debate ideas with civility. There is an expectation that participants refrain from personal attacks, and instead focus on the merit of what is stated. AAC is one such place that I enjoy coming back to, and that is because of the many gracious participants !
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I can't help drawing a comparison to the idea of cargo cults discussed by cultural anthropologists and ethnographers (another full disclosure: I used to be married to one). Cargo cults (mainly post-WW II) refer to the great admiration and enthusiasm, seen first among Melanesians and Pacific Islanders, for objects that were part of Western society. These objects were introduced by European colonizers, often through airdrops, when they invaded or acquired many of these nations and islands. Colonialism depends on the extraction of raw materials and wealth from the subject nations and also creating markets in those nations for the sale of finished products to further enrich the colonizer. Cargo cults are an almost bizarre outgrowth of this process. Briefly, a cargo cult is a system of beliefs and rituals among indigenous peoples that they trust will induce a more advanced society with technological prowess to deliver desirable goods to them. You can read more about this in the link at the end of this post.

My point here is that Japanese behavior toward Western clothing has an intriguing parallel in cargo cults, although in a more modern way. There are major differences: Japanese society is technologically advanced, and quite the equal of Western societies in skill and craftsmanship in clothing, although this was not the case a few decades ago. But their adulation of Ivy Style and their attempts to recreate and reinvigorate a fashion that they feared was becoming an anachronism or even moribund, does appear to resemble the worshipful attitudes of the nations that formed the old cargo cults. In the fine attention to detailed work in many articles of clothing made in Japan, I see some of the old rituals associated with cargo cults. And this is all the more significant because traditional Japanese style in clothing -- kimonos, haoris, getas, etc. -- has literally nothing to do with western dress!

Thank you for introducing us to "Cargo Cults". In skimming the linked article it occurred to me that the affected cultures were both technologically and intellectually challenged. Not in the sense of cognitive impairment, but in the scope of their education. In many ways the affected cultures were very little advanced from the late middle ages. Then conquerors swoop in from the sky (literally) and bedazzle natives with inconceivable advances in materials and technology. Unfortunately, the natives lacked the educational scope to understand the sudden experience- it was completely alien to them. Thus the newcomers were viewed as deities and the natives later paid homage to attempt to regain the favor of deities.

I appreciate that you point to parallels in Japan. Japan emerged from the Shogun era and embarked on a rapid transformation into an industrialized society. Japan interacted with the West, and sent its best and brightest to be educated in the US and Britain. Starting in the mid 19th century, and through the 1920s, the vanguard of Japanese political and economic society was exposed to US Ivy and UK Ox-Bridge environments. This exposure led to an initial acceptance of Western Culture. Note that as early as the late 19th century, Japanese political attachés would wear UK style Morning Suits when engaging in diplomatic activities. While Japan proved to be fertile ground for western influences, it remained a Feudal society focused on serving the Emperor. This mindset ran deep within Japan, and for centuries was the foundation of their Government, Culture and Economy.

Then WWII occurred, which completely wiped out old orders throughout the World, and established the US as the most powerful nation in the world. The US also conquered Japan, and forced Japanese leaders into fealty to the US. Luckily for all, we proved to be a benevolent overlord, after having learned the lessons of Versailles. While ultimately beneficial, the conquest of Japan was a humiliating experience for Japanese culture, which remained Feudal- one lived to serve the leader. This cultural mindset provided the foundation for the Japanese embrace of capitalism, where the Feudal state was replaced by the Corporation which offered lifetime employment and protection. The concept of the anonymous Salary Man, who may be a little cog in the works, but who was honored as a vital component to the process, is just a modern version of expressing loyalty to upper echelon leadership. In embracing the educational, political and economic models of their conqueror, should it really be a surprise at how deeply Ivy became embedded into Japanese culture ? In this light adoption of Western Ivy attire was both a reaction to being conquered, and an homage to a benevolent conqueror.

Now if we can only convince Japanese taste makers to (re)export Ivy back to the West, in sizes that fit our body types !
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Humbled (as usual) by the graciousness of all participants.
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