To say Brooks Brothers customers are accustomed to a certain level of quality is a bit of an understatement. For some, the bar is set before the first day of kindergarten.
“We have customers who start wearing Brooks Brothers when they are 4 years old,” Lou Amendola, the apparel maker’s chief merchandising officer, confirmed to Sourcing Journal. “We take them through every stage of their life for both their professional and casual wear.”
And the average millennial and Gen Z consumer who is currently coming of age in luxury fashion spending owns nine luxury fashion items across accessories, apparel and footwear, according to a report by The NPD Group this spring.
These consumers are shopping both online and in stores, ranking “highly coveted or prestigious brands, product quality, distinctiveness and timeless style” as the most important factors when making a luxury purchase. As such, it’s more important than ever for apparel brands to educate consumers about how their products are made—and what’s used to make them.
Helping Brooks Brothers develop its enduring customer relationships is another long-held connection: the one it holds with Supima cotton. Grown exclusively in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas by more than 500 U.S. family farmers, Supima’s extra-long fibers have become a staple of luxury brands thanks to its softness, strength and color-retention properties.
“Our iconic button-down oxfords and non-iron shirts—probably the most famous Brooks Brothers products—are made with Supima cotton,” Amendola said.
The apparel company is just one of Supima’s 500 licensees, and its CMO considers it to be in good company. “Supima has done a terrific job of marketing itself and creating brand awareness. While I believe the partnership with Brooks Brothers is both unique and special, they have really invested in spreading the message of the benefits of Supima cotton, and they work with many relevant brands throughout the industry.”
Though not immune to shifting shopping patterns, Brooks Brothers doesn’t position itself as a highly promotional retailer and thus relies upon its foundation to be successful with the luxury customer. “Our customers know that they are buying products that are enduring,” Amendola said. As part of this, the company intensively trains its store associates to be experts in both product style and materials, and associates frequently find themselves spreading the gospel of Supima.
“Our commitment to Supima has only grown over the years as both we and our customers recognize the outstanding quality of the fiber,” he said. “We invest a lot of resources in training our associates; many have even experienced Supima in a unique way by visiting the farms where the cotton is grown and seeing the process from field to fiber.”
Seeing is believing, but Supima’s relationship with Oritain ensures that not all manufacturers are required to get up close and personal with those fields. Oritain, a product and supply chain traceability specialist, enables licensees to test and authenticate the origin of their Supima products to confirm they haven’t been blended or substituted. The “unique fingerprint” of the product can be identified at any point in the supply chain, according to Oritain, thanks to the company’s forensic technology.
Beyond providing a peace-of-mind guarantee, this verification process is also resonating at retail. “Authenticity has become an increasingly important topic for both brands and consumers,” agreed Amendola. “Having visibility on the supply chain creates additional trust for brand partners and confidence for consumers. This is not only important for apparel companies but all industries—it’s an important aspect of sustainability.”
Brooks Brothers, which has steadily increased its assortment of Supima-made products since the two first partnered, each year mounts a full-blown campaign promoting the premium fibers. The campaign is executed across multiple digital and physical platforms, with a heavy emphasis placed on outdoor advertising. (It’s perhaps most notable in New York City, where one would be hard-pressed to catch a city bus that doesn’t feature the campaign.)
Its most recent campaign was staged at the Color Factory in New York, the interactive creative space in SoHo, with all attendees decked out in, of course, bright Supima polos. It’s this polo that Brooks Brothers intends to focus heavily upon this summer, as the style and variety of colors are ideal for the season, Amendola noted.
The apparel manufacturer also for the first time mounted a hand-painted mural on a wall in SoHo as part of its Supima campaign—Amendola hailed it as a personal favorite—where it’s been heralded for both the product and the artistic execution.
Visit Supima.com to learn more about Supima Cotton.