Umbrella Review: Brooks Brothers vs. Leighton

Good day, gentlemen. Fall is here, and it's time to prepare for some rainy days. It's also time to amp up your umbrella game. Fold up travel umbrellas are convenient and they keep you dry. They can fit in a briefcase or dangle from a lanyard around your wrist. Golf umbrellas keep you dry as well... along with everybody else in your zip code. Neither of these umbrella types are particularly stylish. Travel umbrellas are strictly utilitarian, and golf umbrellas are a roving billboard for Wachovia or Bank of America.

What a gentleman needs is an attractive stick umbrella, free of crazy bright colors, company brands, and small plastic handles. A wooden crook handle and (when collapsed) a slim silhouette, a generous (but not gigantic) canopy, and a dark, solid color. Do you notice the funeral scenes in movies? I don't care which movie, because they're all the same. The day is dreary and rainy, and everyone stands under a sea of black umbrellas as they mourn. NONE OF YOU fine gentlemen need to be the lone idiot with the enormous red, white and blue BofA umbrella. Trust me! Now I'm not saying a fine looking umbrella should be restricted to funerals- quite the contrary. But one should be able to carry it anywhere to fit in...

...or stand out! Remember The Avengers' John Steed, who carried his classic stick umbrella with him everywhere, even on sunny, bone-dry days? Remember Sean  Connery as Henry Jones in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (whose umbrella came in quite handy in warding off a flock of angry pidgeons, or something to that effect), who had his umbrella with him always? A nice umbrella is like a sidearm. It can go with you everywhere, even if you don't intent to use it, but you'll never know when you might need it!
 Today I review two classic-looking stick umbrellas, one from Brooks Brothers (top left) and one from a company called Leighton (top right). Let's get started!

First off, both umbrellas have a classic, refined style. Black canopy, slim design, and wooden crook handles. The Brooks Brothers "New Stick Umbrella" has a wooden shaft as well, while the Leighton "Executive" has a shaft fashioned of steel. Leighton makes one with a wooden shaft as well, which actually costs less money than their steel shaft version, so I wouldn't consider the shaft material on either umbrella to be a pro or a con, although the wood does look nice.

Both umbrellas have eight ribs that support the canopy. The Brooks Brothers (above left) version employs fiberglass ribs that are attached to the canopy with (bummer) plastic grommets. The Leighton umbrella (above right) has steel ribs attached to the canopy by a metal hinge. A much stronger design, if you ask me.

The tips of these umbrellas are both wood. The Brooks Brothers umbrella has an attractive metal ferrel at the base of the wooden tip, while the Leighton has a thicker, shorter tip with no added adornments that matches the wood of the handle. I'd say that the BB umbrella tip probably looks a bit nicer, but the very end is just painted black and not very smooth, so it looks as if something fell off or came unglued. I'd call this round a draw.

Both umbrellas boast a generous sized polyester canopy. Of the two, the Leighton is Teflon coated. The Brooks Brothers umbrella is not. Major score for Leighton. Also, the Leighton has an auto-open feature, while the Brooks Brothers umbrella is manual only. Another point for the Leighton.

The Leighton has a lifetime replacement warranty.
There is no stated warranty for the Brooks Brothers umbrella. 3 - zip Leighton.

The Brooks Brothers umbrella does have their   attractive script logo on the canopy strap, which is a nice little touch. They also have a black canopy version with the BB Golden Fleece logo dotting the surface, which looks nice, but the ferrel on the wooden tip is plastic rather than metal, which turned me off to that design.

The Leighton umbrella has a nice little touch on the handle as well; a leather wrapping with the Leighton name embossed on the surface. The Leighton also has a metal ring to secure the rib points directly above the handle. The BB umbrella has no such feature.
In terms of dollars and cents, the Brooks Brothers umbrella retails for $60, which is approaching a lot of money for what you're getting. The Leighton Executive retails for $30, and is available in several colors at for $24, I believe.

When all is said and done, my endorsement goes to the Leighton, mainly because of this reason: when opening the Brooks Brothers umbrella for only the third time, prior to even testing it in the rain, one of the plastic gromets that secures the ribs to the canopy snapped, leaving one rib flopping about and the umbrella unusable. I returned it for a refund, and purchased the Leighton, which so far seems damn-near indestructable.

Both umbrellas are made in China (which greatly disappointed me on the Brooks Brothers model, considering the price tag), and the Leighton is clearly a higher quality product, which cost me less than half as much. I am a big fan of Brooks Brothers, as some of the previous posts would indicate, but they never have specialized in umbrellas, and I'll consider them in the future for their own items, rather than something they're just sticking their name on.

Anyway, go out and get yourself a man's umbrella, and give your novelty golf umbrellas to the Goodwill. If you must have something that large, Leighton also sells a Doorman model, with 16 ribs and a 60" canopy which retails for a mere $36, but unless you routinely walk around with a wife and 3 kids under your umbrella, a standard stick size will do. Travel umbrellas are great for... well... traveling, or to have in your briefcase as a backup, but we're men of distinction here. Get something that makes a statement that you have class.
Until next time,



Easy and Elegant Life said...

Alright, game, set, match to Leighton. And I'll be happy to carry one. Fine review and a nice site you've got. Congratulations.

Keep fighting the good fight.
-- Easy