The name Brooks Brothers has been synonymous with top quality classic men’s wear since the very first store in Manhattan was opened by Henry Brook in 1818. Later renamed Brooks Brothers by Henry’s four sons it’s reputation has only grown over the years.
Today there are 280 Brooks Brothers stores, 210 in America and 70 scattered elsewhere in the world. Once only selling mens wear, now women’s fashions are also on sale along with books of etiquette for both men and women so everyone’s behavior matches the quality of the clothing.
During it’s long history Brooks Brothers haven’t always escaped without a hint of scandal. During the Civil War, tempted no doubt by the huge uniform contracts on offer, the firm made uniforms our of clothing scraps which they glued together. Unfortunately when the soldiers were out in the rain the unifroms fell part and that didn’t do much for the Brooks Brothers reputation.
But apparently such skulduggery didn’t unduly influence the wartime President Abraham Lincoln, who had a special coat made for him by Brooks Brothers as well as all his suits. Indeed he was assassinated wearing his Brooks Brothers coat and one of their suits.
Brooks Brothers undoubtedly rose to the top of the clothing retail ranks by continually innovating as well as the quality of their clothing. They were the first to offer ready-to-wear suits in 1895 and followed with the first offering of the button down shirt, English Foulard ties, Ivy League suits, colored dress shirts, the use of Harris tweed, introduction of the Polo coat and argyle socks, wash and wear shirts and the first non iron 100% cotton dress shirt.
They produce a mid range of men’s clothing plus a high end range and have added women’s clothing what’s on sale. Some of what they offer is imported but they manufacture their own high end suits, shirts and ties.
Naturally, given their reputation, any man who is somebody gets kitted out in a Brooks Brothers suit at some stage. 39 out of 44 Presidents have worn Brooks Brothers and President Obama wore one to his first inaugeration. Every suave celebrity has worn one; count in Fred Astaire, Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart.
And of course every film that relies on sartorial elegance for it’s male cast members suits up at Brooks Brothers. Mad men cast members all wore Brooks Brothers, see video one and The Great Gatsby was not only a triumph for its costume designer Catherine Martin but Brooks Brothers did amazing business selling the line of Gatsby clothing which Brooks Brothers produced for her in line with her designs.
To this day the flagship Brooks Brothers store is located in Manhattan at 346 Madison Avenue near 44th Street in Midtown, making it the oldest clothing retail store in town. May you conitnue Brook Brothers, you have added to the elgance of NYC living for nearly 200 years. Waht a record.