One of the most cherished brands in U.S. history, Oxxford Clothing is about to celebrate its centennial. Most of the hoopla is happening in the second half of 2016, but to prepare ourselves, we paid a visit to Oxxford president Bob Denton and sales director Chris Brueckner at the Oxxford store in midtown Manhattan.
What we learned: There is a definite yin and yang dynamic between the core Oxxford customers and a new generation just starting to appreciate the heritage, authenticity and hand craftsmanship inherent in Oxxford clothing. Asked if it might make sense to offer a slightly lower priced collection so that more young guys can get introduced to such exceptional hand tailoring (Oxxford suits retail between $4,000 and $5,500, with custom an additional 10 percent), Denton answers this way: “We can’t produce a less expensive collection because our (Chicago) factory only knows how to make the best. We don’t have the machinery to cut through layers of fabric; we cut one suit at a time. We hand match every plaid, even inside the sleeves. We make our own canvas with a supplier in Italy: the fabric is hung out to line dry over the Adriatic Sea. The lapel roll is based on rows of hand stitching; we use no tape on the armhole to allow for extra give. We don’t know how to produce clothing any other way.”
Although 80 percent of Oxxford’s business is custom, Denton maintains that retailers need to stock key styles and sizes so customers can touch and try on before buying. “You don’t buy a Mercedes without driving it first,” he points out. “A good example is the brighter blue shades we are now selling so well; without a sample, the customer is less likely to request it.” Denton also notes that since today’s slimmer fits present challenges, basted try-ons are an important accommodation.
Stay tuned for more on Oxxford’s 100 years of extraordinary tailoring, coming soon in print and online.