Brooks Brothers, an iconic name in American fashion, stands as a testament to the evolution of men’s clothing and the enduring appeal of classic style. Founded in 1818, this venerable institution has not only witnessed but also influenced pivotal moments in fashion and American history. Let’s delve into the rich tapestry of Brooks Brothers’ storied past.

The Dawn of an Era: 1818

In 1818, Henry Sands Brooks opened H. & D.H. Brooks & Co. on the corner of Catherine and Cherry Streets in New York City. His guiding principle, “To make and deal only in merchandise of the best quality, to sell it at a fair profit, and to deal with people who seek and appreciate such merchandise,” set the tone for the brand’s enduring commitment to quality and style.

Innovations and Firsts

Brooks Brothers is credited with several firsts in the fashion industry. In 1849, they introduced the ready-to-wear suit to American consumers, revolutionizing how men approached dressing. This innovation was a departure from the made-to-measure norm, offering convenience and accessibility to a broader audience.

In 1896, another milestone was achieved with the introduction of the original button-down polo shirt. Inspired by English polo players, this design quickly became a staple in men’s wardrobes and remains synonymous with the brand.

Dressing the Presidents

Brooks Brothers’ influence extended to the highest echelons of power, dressing 40 out of 45 American Presidents. Notably, Abraham Lincoln wore a Brooks Brothers coat to his second inauguration and, tragically, also on the night of his assassination. The brand’s association with presidential style underscores its impact on American history and culture.

The War Years and Beyond

During World War II, Brooks Brothers contributed to the war effort by manufacturing military uniforms. Post-war, they continued to innovate, introducing items like non-iron shirts, which gained widespread popularity.

The Modern Era

Entering the 21st century, Brooks Brothers continued to evolve while maintaining its classic style. They expanded their offerings to include women’s clothing and children’s wear, adapting to the changing fashion landscape without losing sight of their heritage.

Challenges and Resilience

Despite facing challenges, including changes in ownership and the evolving retail landscape, Brooks Brothers has shown remarkable resilience. The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented trials, leading to a bankruptcy filing in 2020. However, the brand emerged with a renewed focus, committed to its legacy of quality and style.

Brooks Brothers’ journey through nearly two centuries is more than a story of a clothing brand; it’s a narrative of American history, innovation, and enduring style. As they continue to adapt and grow, Brooks Brothers remains a symbol of timeless elegance and a beacon in the world of fashion.