Tuesday, April 6, 2010

RIP: The Last Hour of Brooks Brothers in Downtown Los Angeles

Although long and permanently estranged from his hometown of Los Angeles, the werewolf was slightly saddened to read this pensive and reflective obituary of the Brooks Brothers flagship in downtown Los Angeles.

The werewolf knew this particular Brooks Brothers rather well. It will always have a special place in his black heart. It was late during the summer of 1999, a few weeks before the werewolf was set to return to New Hampshire to wrap up his senior year of high school, that he was first formerly introduced to this branch of classic men's clothing retailer. The werewolf's father invited him downtown for lunch at the grill room in the esteemed Jonathan Club (a classic Los Angeles social club that despite a fading reputation and growing detachment from the old-world ethos that made it so worthy, remains one of the greatest places on earth and a perennial favorite of the werewolf's). The werewolf's devotion, affection, and nostalgia for the "J Club" merit a post unto itself one of these days. It also reflected a cherished time of naive innocence and blissful optimism prior to werewolf's estrangement from his family and the jading effect that life's hurdles and frustrations permanently impress upon us took root.

Prior to his retirement, the werewolf's father worked on the 24th floor of 777 South Figueroa, one of the most commanding and attractive sky-scrappers in downtown Los Angeles ,which loosely resembled a tiered wedding cake from afar. On a clear day, it providing not only captivating views of other sky-scrappers, but beyond the nearly infinite suburban sprawl, the occasionally snow-caped mountains east of Los Angeles could be seen when the smog wasn't too obstructive. It always gave one good reason to pause on a clear day. The office building itself was about four or five blocks south of the Jonathan Club, with the storied Brooks Brothers location exactly in between.

It was a beautiful, albeit, slightly toasty summer day in Los Angeles. After parking the faithful old Acura Legend at the J Club and walking down to his father's office because that is how it was done back then, the werewolf recalls the pleasant small-talk walking back to the J-Club to enjoy lunch in the Grill Room. After lunch, the old man informed the werewolf that a jaunt to Brooks Brothers, just down the street, was in order because it was time he had a real suit.

It was the werewolf's first suit buying experience. It was a pretty cool. He had occasionally gone with his father to GB Harb & Son, a old LA tailor-shop, and always admired the sense of style and impeccable fit that ensured from those trips, yet was too young to understand how it could possibly apply to him.

The downtown Brooks Brothers store was surprisingly voluminous and had an expansive series of suit racks accommodating every type of potential customer out there. After long and deliberate discussion with both his father and salesman, the werewolf settled on a two-buttoned, pleated, charcoal gray suit from Brooks Brothers entry-level line. The salesman was impeccably thought and offered what seemed to be prudent advice at the time. There was a brief flurry of debate about pinstripes, which the werewolf's father was wearing that day, but being young, brash, and unsure of his style, the understated universality of the charcoal gray won at his father's aggressive urging. The suit itself was legendary and would endure seven years of hard use by the werewolf before being retired. It survived countless job interviews, two summer internships on Capitol Hill, a brief stint in London, countless student government meetings, several wild parties in South Africa, including one where it ended up, along with the werewolf, in a swimming pool chasing a pretty girl. It was worn so much, that eventually it just gave-out in certain areas - the seems connecting the sleeves to the jack body tore and one of the pockets got caught on something leaving gash in the side of the pants -  although it always fit rather well for on OTR suit, and as the werewolf got older, and lost and gained weight cyclically, it seemed to conform to his body obediently. A white and blue oxford cloth button-down, along with a regimental tie, that the werewolf's father called "a Reagan tie," and busy paisley tie were also acquired that day. Nowadays, the werewolf wouldn't get caught dead OCBD with a suit, but it worked well back then.

Although he never frequented that Brooks Brothers, his seasonal visits to that store and first time suit buying experience will always resonate with him. The werewolf loves a good Brooks Brothers suit, but has evolved to prefer made-to-measure suits form  Samuelsohn or Adrian Jules mixed in with several old-faithfuls from Brooks Brothers.

Having long left LA, the werewolf knows his sadness is slightly illogical and strange. Yet, he can't help but feel like downtown Los Angeles has lost out on some level. Here's to cherished memories.

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