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Brooks Brothers California? No, that's not the name of a Hollister-coded Brooks Brothers apparel line. Instead, it's the title of a surprising collaboration between the old money American luxury label and Brain Dead, the Los Angeles brand known for making streetwear that looks like it was designed off acid tabs.

This doesn't just seem to be a one-off collab but (potentially) a long-term partnership where Ng oversees a dedicated line, similar to his ongoing partnership with Oakley.

In June 2024, Brain Dead's founder Kyle Ng began posting Instagram hints about this forthcoming collaboration. Naturally, there's a cute co-branded logo meshing Brain Dead's head with Brooks Brothers floating sheep. And frankly, I've just been counting sheep in my brain while waiting to see what Brooks Brothers will bring with its first streetwear-leaning collaboration since teaming up with Supreme a decade ago.

The first Brain Dead x Brooks Brother teaser was captioned "See you in Paris" yet no signs of life detected for this collaboration were detected during Spring/Summer 2025 shows at Paris Men's Fashion Week.

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It's likely that Ng's caption was referring to his general design presence there, since his work with the Oakley Factory Team appeared again as futuristic dad shoes on Junya Watanabe's runway.

However, a lookbook teaser Ng posted gives us better sense of what this radical collaboration really looks like and it certainly isn't, for lack of a better term, brain dead. It doesn't look like the Los Angeles brand is making T-shirts with Brooks Brothers. Instead, its focusing its bloodshot eyes on one of Brooks Brothers pioneering pieces of menswear, a classic Oxford cloth button-down.

Brain Dead took the six-button Oxford shirt we're all familiar with and merged it with a placket from Brooks Brothers' original Oxford popover.

This pullover shirt was actually the first Oxford cloth button-down ever offered by Brooks Brothers. It's like Brain Dead put the Oxford shirt through a wormhole that stretched its cotton fibers between the past and present.

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Already, this Brooks Brothers collaboration feels more daring than its previous streetwear link-up with Supreme in 2014, which simply delivered a seersucker suit with a random matching bucket hat.

Granted that accessory was aptly on the pulse of streetwear trends at the time, I truthfully didn't even remember this Supreme collaboration until I saw Brain Dead's teasers.

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I guess that's because my 16-year-old self would never consider wearing a suit or picking a Supreme x Brooks Brothers bucket over a tie-dye Milkcrate hat donned by an Oxymoron-era ScHoolboy Q.

But let's button-up and get down to the business behind this collaboration. Although Brooks Brothers is the oldest American clothing label, with over 205 years of experience in the fashun game, it has been sewing itself together since filing for bankruptcy in 2020. Aside from being a part of a slew of collaborators that were apart of Junya Watanabe's 2024 menswear collections, nothing as exciting as this Brain Dead collaboration has come out of Brooks Brothers. So it's refreshing to see that someone at this heritage label unbuttoned their collar and lit up this collaboration with Brain Dead.

It's worth noting that whoever owns Brooks Brothers' trademark in Japan has tastefully been embracing the "Take Ivy" movement that propelled old guard American menswear label there in the first place—evident through collaborations with fashion-forward Japanese retailers like Urban Research.

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But really, this Brain Dead collaboration is the first time I've ever thought about Brooks Brothers since it filed for bankruptcy. And truthfully, when I search for formal attire today, I find myself perusing through Thom Browne's latest wares before even taking a gander at this heritage American label.

So imagine how devastated I felt when seeing a headline in May 2024 about Browne's Black Fleece line being relaunched only to discover that it's just going to be high-end formalwear without Browne's involvement? Like be for real! At least this Brain Dead Oxford is leaving me high and not dry.

Brain Dead's collaboration with Brooks Brothers is also arriving at a point when streetwear is embracing classic prep. Kids who grew up wearing Supreme are now wearing blazers by Aimé Leon Dore. Designers who studied under James Jebbia, such as Brendon Babenzien, have transcended the streetwear space to inject some Nolita swag into J. Crew, AKA your parent's favorite polo shirt brand. Even young streetwear brands like Fugazi have shifted away from making parody sneakers to create bizarre take on loafers that hit better than most SNKR drops today.

This all goes to say that new perspective is needed at Brooks Brothers. And if Brain Dead's previous collaborations with The North Face and adidas have proven anything, it's that Ng's brand knows how to remix a heritage brand's most iconic products with a cheeky twist. Just look towards its hippie-fied take on a '70s North Face chore coat or its adidas Superstar-inspired interpretation of bowling shoes. While this Oxford shirt is just a small hit of what's to come, I think I'm already starting to feel it

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