Brooks Brothers

In 1818 Henry Sands Brooks founded the first ready-to-wear fashion brand in America: Brooks Brothers

Categories

Fashion and Textiles  
Retail and Consumer Goods  
Summary

In 1818 Henry Sands Brooks founded  the first ready-to-wear fashion brand in America- Brooks Brothers- and has continued throughout history with iconic product introductions including seersucker- madras- original button-down collar and the non-iron shirt. It is credited for shaped  American style and has been worn by forty-six American Presidents!


History

Henry Sands Brooks launched his label "H. and D. H. Brooks and Co." in Manhattan, on April 7 1818 with a vision to deal only in the finest merchandise- to retail it at a fair profit- and to deal with consumers who appreciate such merchandise. In 1833 his children Elisha, Daniel, Edward and John inherited the family business and renamed it "Brooks Brothers."

During the cotton boom of the nineteenth century Brooks Brothers handcrafted collections with cotton. In its early history, the fashion brand was credited with introducing the ready-to-wear suit to Americans. And- their success continued to spiral at an upward trajectory. In the mid-nineteenth century Brooks Brothers outfitted United States President Abraham Lincoln. At his second inauguration, Lincoln wore a coat designed for him by Brooks Brothers. Hand-stitched into the lining was an eagle astride an inscription "One Country, One Destiny." Since- Brooks Brothers has outfitted forty-one American Presidents.

The last member of the Brooks family to head the company was Winthrop Holly Brooks who helmed the company from 1935-46 after which it was acquired by "Julius Garfinckel and Co." Although Winthrop Brooks remained with the company John C. Wood became Director. Under his leadership, Brooks Brothers became traditional. By 1971 there were eleven Brooks Brothers stores. In 1981 the company was purchased by "Allied Stores" and in 1988 re-purchased by British firm "Marks and Spencer". In 2001 Marks and Spencer resold Brooks Brothers to "Retail Brand Alliance" now known as "The Brooks Brothers Group" owned by Italian gentleman Claudio del Vecchio. 

By the mid-20th century Brooks Brothers was one of the most popular men's fashion brands worldwide. The look was understated but it made a quiet statement i.e. a soft grey flannel suit.. white oxford button-down.. silk foulard ties.. and calfskin brogues. To cater to a burgeoning American workforce Brooks next launched the wash-and-wear shirt and the non-iron cotton dress shirt which simplified the requirements of office dressing. Greater ease of wear also drove the popularity of the Brooks summer suit.. made of blended lightweight poplin.

In September 2007 Brooks Brothers unveiled a high-end label "Black Fleece". Starring Thom Brown as guest designer.. Black Fleece received so much critical acclaim and commercial success that the company opened a Black Fleece standalone boutique the following year. Up next was a line of luxury home furnishings. There was no looking back. In 2015 there were 210 Brooks Brothers stores in the United States and an estimated seventy stores in other countries. 

However between 2017— 19 sales declined and soon the company proposed closing its three American factories. On 8 July 2020 it was reported that Brooks Brothers was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The reason- per Financial Times- "When it comes to tastes and style Brooks Brothers has been swimming against the tide. Its formal old school approach found favor among mature and more traditional demographics but it has become increasingly out-of-step with a new generation of consumers."

The silver lining appeared when Brooks Brothers announced on 11 August 2020 that it would be sold for an estimated $325 million to "Authentic Brands Group" and "SPARC Group LLC." Per Business Wire: "As part of the agreement SPARC has committed to continue operating at least 125 Brooks Brothers retail locations. The bidders intend to preserve the iconic Brooks Brothers brand and to continue to serve the Company’s loyal customers." 

Recently the joint owners named Ken Ohashi as President and Michael Bastian as Creative Director. Zac Posen- who was Creative Director of the womenswear since 2014- exited the company. Per GQ: "Bastian is an icon from the menswear era—the movement in men's clothing that ran from the mid-Aughts to the early '10s championing heritage brands Mad Men-adjacent tailoring and real-heads-only products like double-monkstrap shoes… He was a ready dance partner whenever a brand needed an injection of menswear zeitgeist…"

The future looks bright judging by critical acclaim of its newest collection. By continuing to blend craftsmanship and technology while honouring its history.. the two-hundred year old company is sure to be at the forefront once again. Brooks Brothers is working with AI firm ORS Group to help it figure out everything from how many shirts it should have in stock at each store to how much a promotion drives sales. It also plans to adopt blockchain technology that ORS is testing and working with MIT professors across its supply chain.


Mission

"To enhance the lives both within and beyond the communities we serve. We do this by partnering with select local, national and international non-profit organisations related to men's, women's and children's health issues as well as education and the arts."


Vision

To be the premiere lifestyle destination for ladies and gentleman for every generation.


Key Team

Michael Bastian (Creative Director)

Ken Ohashi (President)


Recognition and Awards
Founded in 1818 by Henry Sands Brooks the first ready-to-wear fashion brand in America has been worn by forty-six American Presidents!

Products and Services

Menswear, womenswear, accessories and home furnishings


References
Brooks Brothers
Leadership team

Michael Bastian (Creative Director)

Ken Ohashi (Ken Ohashi)

Industries

Fashion and Textiles

Retail and Consumer Goods

Products/ Services
Menswear, fashion accessories and home furnishings
Headquarters
100 Phoenix Ave, Enfield, CT 06082, USA
Company Registration
709471
Social Media

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Wed Feb 28 2024
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