Kamakura vs Brooks Brothers: Outside looking in
I did a few loads of laundry today and thought this would be a good opportunity to contrast my new Kamakuras against my pre-existing Brooks Brothers OCBD’s. I’ll be wearing the blue Kama to work tomorrow and will have a cheesy WIWT/OOTD post and review following my nightmarish day. For now, let’s compare the two through a few simple categories: Color, Care, and Finish.
Color: I think the amateurish iPad photos do a good enough job detailing the different concept of “blue” between the two brands. The Brooks interpretation is a darker and cooler blue, with more gray in it. A traditional shade that has proven itself a versatile partner to a variety of pants, jackets and ties across the years. The Kama has a brighter blue than most traditional brands. It’s a little hotter and reminds me of broadcloth shirts I have. Jerrod at OxfordClothButtonDown once wrote an article about his (formerly) favorite button down by Lands End (here) and the Kama color falls more in that area than traditional Brooks.
Strict Trads may not approve, but I prefer this blue. I believe that one should dress for their complexion and that more sandy, “spring”, toned persons (such as myself) look better in a warmer blue than a cooler one.
Care: Holy crap. The Kama shirt asks you not to use detergent with “optical brighteners” or “oxygen bleaches.” The directions also state not to tumble dry or iron while wet. Also, don’t feed it after midnight.
The Brooks didn’t say a word while I washed it in rain water over an old washboard.
Finish: After a wash, a short tumble in the dryer, and an afternoon of air drying, all three shirts came out great. Ultimately, the Kama looks bright and new with a soft touch. The Brooks OCBD and Pinpoint are duller in hue and a little courser. Neither is better, as they have different qualities that are equally desirable. The BB is more traditional in weight and color. The Kama feels a little softer and lighter; it’s more refined in comparison to the BBs faux-working man charms.
Verdict: All the qualities I’ve reviewed don’t prove any superiority, it’s purely relative preference. If there’s any area that Kama prove superior it’s in two areas not yet reviewed: Collar-roll and Value.
The Kama collar is lined, but unlike Brooks it’s a lighter unfused lining that results in a softer and more pliable collar. The collar points are also slightly longer than BB’s, about a quarter inch, give or take. For collar-roll enthusiasts, this is a methodical and well engineered roll.
Lastly, the value. At $79, Kama boxes in a weight class with other stalwarts in the industry, Brooks and J Press. The price is slightly less, but Kamakura has an enthusiasm for the Ivy style that Brooks has definitely lost. The price is fair, the product is of good quality and it oozes respect for tradition without being legalistic. I’d like to see more colors in the Tokyo Classic Fit (lavender stripe, tattersall and ecru would be great), but I think I’ve found my preferred shirt brand.
Let me know your thoughts.