Burkman Brothers

The Burkman Brothers showroom is in a good looking brick building built in the 1920s. Once inside, the manually operated elevator lifts you up and a brass gate releases you on to the top floor. A short buzz and one of the two smiling brothers will be swiftly opening the door to a tidy showroom space with dark wood floors and walls adorned with Indian inspired art. You should be immediately drawn to the colorful rack of fall clothes near the window. By this point the brothers (Doug and Ben) would be chatting with you, but your mind will already on the clothes. It won’t take you long to figure out, your reaction will be swift and decided. This line is good, really good.


In December my friend Michael Macko called me to tell me about the Burkman Brothers. “You are going to love this line.” he said. Have to hand it to Mr. Macko, he knows his stuff. The NYC based Canadian duo, who both worked at Gap, are getting some much deserved press recently in both Details and GQ. Not to mention their debut collection is carried in some of the best stores around the world. Not bad for two quiet unassuming guys with boat loads of passion. As they showed me the fall collection every detail had a story. Whether it is a prep school in India or a tribal print from Burma, the line has a connection to real things and people. Every garment was treated like a loved family member, with Doug and Ben taking turns proudly walking me through the fall 09 collection. The range mixes Colonial India with American sportswear in a way that just seems to work perfectly. It was a rare situation where I looked through the racks and literally wanted every item. If you think I’m over hyping it, I’m not. SS09 is hitting Barneys as we speak, go check it out. Don’t just take my word for it.

Pictured below Ben and Doug Burkman.


Looks from the AW09 collection.


Oxford lined flannels.







Comments on “Burkman Brothers

    kyle on February 3, 2009 1:04 PM:

    Very nice.
    Gonna have to head up to Barneys.

    Seth on February 3, 2009 2:09 PM:

    Are the poses in front of the wood panels from the label’s lookbook?

    Michael Williams on February 3, 2009 2:12 PM:

    Yes, those wood panel shots are the AW09 look book…

    david on February 3, 2009 2:18 PM:

    great posting. incredible clothes…

    new to your blog… really enjoying it so far. thanks.

    aTreasuryOf.com on February 3, 2009 2:38 PM:

    Those look-book images are super!

    They seem blown-up from smaller original images.

    Might they be available at some point down the road in larger, cleaner versions? I’d slot them in my desktop scrapbook of inspiration.

    Jordan on February 3, 2009 3:14 PM:

    What frames are the models sporting in the photos? They look like a frame I have that would be great with the whole line. Tura 791!

    Seth on February 3, 2009 4:13 PM:


    That is awesome. Is there a link anywhere online?


    Marcellus on February 3, 2009 4:14 PM:

    Agreed. Every item looks great. Have to confess, I hope this classic Americana goes on forever because I’ll never have to buy anything new again. A pair of chinos, jeans, gray flannels, a white sportshirt, a navy sweater, gray sweatshirt, and tie…it’s really all you need. Not that anyone (self included) can contain themselves to just those basics.

    r on February 3, 2009 7:14 PM:

    laces son! do up thy laces

    chris on February 3, 2009 8:20 PM:

    cdns with no cdn retail outlets.
    le sigh.

    Giancarlo on February 3, 2009 9:18 PM:

    Any idea what label the boots are?

    Colby on February 3, 2009 10:00 PM:

    They look like Red Wings that have been beaten up a lot. I might be wrong.

    Mayur Sharma on February 4, 2009 2:28 AM:

    When I first encountered Doug I was calling him Mr. Burkman over the phone and then I met him :) I think its time to go back to ‘Mr. Burkman :) Brilliantly conceived and executed collection Doug and Ben. Can’t wait to get my hands on some of the shirts and flannels

    Go INDIA!!!!!!

    Cyclo on February 4, 2009 5:48 AM:

    Jeez…this is just LL Bean/Lands End take-off stuff innit? I mean it looks nice enough but can you really call yourselves “designers” when all you’re doing is copying the kind of workwear that anyone can by from Wallmart? I don’t understand.

    Michael Williams on February 4, 2009 9:10 AM:

    I buy all my art at Wallmart. Love that place.

    dan on February 4, 2009 9:12 AM:


    reality bite on February 4, 2009 1:01 PM:

    Hurt. I bet these trustafarians didn’t even do one sketch. I have some stuff from fourth grade I could send to the factory too. Washes don’t hide mediocrity.

    a guy on bleecker st on February 4, 2009 4:03 PM:

    nice looking clothes, and the shirting plaids look great too.

    i really like the shots with the model in the fall looks with the wood walls and the props. might these images be from their look book?

    keep it up, fellas.

    Charles G. on February 4, 2009 5:55 PM:

    This stuff is awful. Chalk this up to an aesthetic lapse? With so many other brands doing this look but in a much better/realer way, what exactly is it about this line that makes it worth posting? (Are they your cousins? The chambray pop-over on the website alone made me want to hurt somebody.)
    And the “story behind each piece” is so overwrought and contrived that it redefines both adjectives. What’s that line about lipstick on a pig… This is gap/old navy stuff with fancy names and a zero tacked onto the price tag.

    Michael Williams on February 4, 2009 5:58 PM:

    Well said Charles. In my book, if a shirt makes you want to punch someone, my work here is a success. So long as I’m not the one standing next to you.


    phillipr on February 4, 2009 6:54 PM:

    Nice stuff brothers! Cool website too. Obviously these clothes are something special … and thats the reason they are in the Bergdorf Goodman & Ron Herman. I am a big fan already. Looking forward to your future. Thank you ACL for a great find.

    jason on February 4, 2009 7:28 PM:

    this is complete shit. it’s completely uninspired and looks like something you’d see in abercrombie & fitch. watered down and jacking current trends. makes me thing this thing here is on it’s way of reaching downward slope in a cycle.

    makes me want to cash in everything i’ve purchased in the past 2 years and start over again. absolutely fucking awful. thought you’d know better mr acl, unless your posting this as a parody.

    Mike M on February 4, 2009 11:44 PM:

    This line looks awesome. Got to get some at Barneys before it disappears!

    Cyclo on February 5, 2009 6:05 AM:

    Glad to see I’m not alone in thinking this stuff overpriced and under specced.
    Just on this point; there are now a number of shops in Edinburgh and Glasgow doing just this sort of stuff, huge prices for ordinary workwear/preppy inspired (read “copying Ralph”) clothing aimed squarely at the trustafarian student market.
    You can understand why RL charge like they do. They spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising. You can understand why Filson and Pendleton charge like they do, the stuff will last your lifetime. But these guys? There is NO justification for charging these prices for these goods. If you really want to look like a student who has been painting their squat then try the Gap, save yourself some cash.

    wayne pate on February 5, 2009 10:59 AM:

    To the haters, I guess I can see your arguments but not agree. I think the real questions are: What’s the fit like? The fabrications used? The little details in the construction of the garments that you can’t see in these look book photos. Collections all looks the same these days, that’s a given. What separates the men from the boys is the overall quality and fit of the garment. There are so many crap fit, crap quality brands out there which would include brands that are overhyped and get too much attention based on there brand image alone. In regards to those crap brands, I will keep that to my self.

    Ryan on February 5, 2009 1:02 PM:

    That is true, it is hard to say anything too bad without actually touching or trying on any of the pieces. Both Michael and Cator Sparks seemed to enjoy the collection after going through it, which does mean something.

    However, I do agree that these are rather uninspired looks. It easily could be American Eagle in terms of the actual aesthetic. So even if they make a great cotton and it fits awesome, I think there is so much stuff on the market that is much stronger.
    But hey, good luck to the brothers and I have no problem with them achieving success.

    a guy on bleecker st on February 5, 2009 4:36 PM:

    Hey Ryan (above),

    Riddle me this:

    Aren’t there a lot of brands out there which look like American Eagle? Is a Steven Alan shirt really all that different from an ANF one at the end of the day? …Really?

    Wayne (above) is correct in saying that a lot of brands look alike these days. I think it more or less comes down to how a brand is perceived that determines its’ worth.

    I would imagine that Cator and Michael would not endorse something that truly wasn’t special or great. I am not passing judgement on these guys until I see it for myself.

    Marcellus on February 5, 2009 9:26 PM:

    What is going on!? Is this a reaction against Americana-inspired small start-ups in general, or specific to Burkman Bros.? I’m genuinely curious because these sentiments are quite fascinating. While the brand does seem to borrow a lot from RL, isn’t that true of almost every start-up from the last 2 or 3 years? Have we reached a saturation point and this is the backlash?

    Ryan on February 6, 2009 1:02 PM:

    For me it’s not a backlash because I still fully support and endorse brands like Engineered Garments, Redwing, LL Bean, Filson etc. I guess it is my personal perception of the line, because I just get rubbed the wrong way. I mean the guys came from “designing” for the GAP.

    I thought all they did was pick different colors for their t shirts and V neck sweaters each sesaon?

    It looks like they worked for the gap, went to Thailand (or India) for 3 weeks, came back and made the gap again with more patterns and people got it confused with American heritage/Americana.

    I really don’t mean to come off like a hater here. As I said, I’m sure they are working hard, and if they are successful that’s great. It’s mostly my personal perception of the brand I suppose.

    JP on February 6, 2009 2:15 PM:

    It’s nice enough stuff, but blatantly lacks any originality in product or point of view. Good taste level, and I’m sure they’re great guys, but they’re not giving me a reason to buy. I already have all this stuff.

    I’m feeling the suit and dressing-up coming back hard.

    Rod on February 8, 2009 10:59 AM:

    I think this clothing line is great!
    There seems to be many people says it’s horrible yet others are loving it? I for one am glad that some like and others don’t otherwise we’d all dress the same. I’ve seen many clothes lines from top designers that other thought were stunning and I wouldn’t be caught in public with them. It’s all perspective and what I like is going to be different than others and those posting vicious comments should bear that in mind

    Sam on February 8, 2009 4:31 PM:

    I’m with Ryan above.

    Completely uninspired. Or “Misinspired” if that was a word in the english language.

    I fail to understand what is interesting or original about any of these pieces, save for the “oxford-lined flannels” which look like a complete trainwreck if I’m being honest here.

    I applaud the efforts of these brothers as I would any other up-and-coming designer. But you don’t get an “A” for effort alone.

    Andy on February 11, 2009 7:52 PM:

    I think the shirts look quite nice, I do agree with the comments about them looking similar to much of the shirting out there but, but none the less they look pretty nice and I would not hesitate to pick one up

    Angela Simmons on February 12, 2009 1:59 AM:

    Wow! The brothers have a very classy taste! Can’t wait to get my man a couple of their works. Hmm…

    Chad on February 13, 2009 2:01 PM:

    this collections looks like an over priced gap collection. The fact they use themselves as models is incredibly narcesstic. I though the point of design is too make other people feel great and sexy. The brand seems all about them and nothing about the customers. Out of touch!

    westvillager on February 14, 2009 4:07 AM:

    Kesner in the West Village (at the corner of West 10th and Hudson) has a great selection of Burkman Bros . I just bought four pieces today.

    Great service too….

    Markmmarkn on February 18, 2009 8:22 AM:

    I cannot stand these clothes. They look frumpy and like they have been picked up from a second hand store or garage sale. If they are comfortable for some guys more power to them, but I probably have clothes like this already. Not for me.

    Slamb on March 6, 2009 10:05 AM:

    Seeing the spring product in person makes me very excited for this fall stuff…

    TJ on August 9, 2009 6:55 PM:

    I bought a few shirts at Barney’s, and these are like no others. The details are pretty amazing. The pair of shorts I tried on were lined in this butter soft oxford. I didn’t buy them (too small) but hoping the Fall pants will be as nice.

    Really had no idea that the clothes would be so nice. The proof was in touching and feeling them . My sales guy at Barney’s did say that the BurkmanBros plaids are all exclusive to them, that is kind of cool.

    Erick on September 14, 2009 12:11 PM:

    Just bought a pair of the oxford lined khakis and a plaid shirt.

    To all the haters (that haven’t touched, let alone tried on, anything), the difference between these guys clothes and all the GAP / OldNavy / Aeropostale / Hollister / ANF / AE big box generica is this: FIT (and, of course, fabric).

    Go try on a pair of khakis from the GAP and then try on Burkman Bros. If you don’t know why there’s a price difference, stay with the GAP.

    As for using themselves in their ads – shows that they stand behind their brand, that maybe they design the stuff, and would actually wear it.

    Paul on October 5, 2009 6:56 AM:

    … or it’s pretentious.

    Went to my local Co-op and checked em out. I liked the fit, patterns/colors, and the material (for the most part), but the craftsmanship (for the price-point) left little to be desired. I picked up one shirt and it had all kinds of loose threads at the seams; picked up another, and the same deal. Off-putting. If it were priced twice as much as the GAP, I’d have walked out of there with the shirts, but three to four times…?

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