In April 7, 1818, at the age of 45, Henry Sands Brooks opens H. & D.H. Brooks & Co. on the Northeast corner of Catherine and Cherry Streets in New York City, his childhood home. As “Makers and Merchants in One,” the firm assumes absolute control over its offerings, ensuring customers the highest level of quality.
"The first to embark on that which is now a leading commercial pursuit," wrote the editors of Carroll’s 1859 New York City Directory of Brooks’ introduction of Ready-Made clothing. Pioneers of the California Gold Rush, unable to wait on the whims of a tailor, flock to Brooks Brothers to pick up ready-made clothing, an innovation of Brooks introduced to aid the fortune seekers in their quest.
"THE GOLDEN FLEECE symbol is adopted as the company’s trademark. The logo, a sheep suspended in a ribbon, had served as a symbol of fine wool since PHILIP THE GOOD chose the emblem for his Order of the Golden Fleece. Later, wool merchants in Europe adopted the symbol as a way of advertising woolen wares to a largely illiterate public, and the Brookses, who wanted to associate their shop with the European sartorial tradition, did the same." The younger brothers DANIEL, JOHN, ELISHA, AND EDWARD, assume leadership and change the firm’s name to Brooks Brothers.
On the occasion of his second inauguration, Brooks Brothers gives loyal customer Abraham Lincoln a great coat with an intricately embroidered lining bearing an eagle and the inscription, “ONE COUNTRY, ONE DESTINY.”Sadly, this was the same coat he was wearing when he was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre two weeks later.
At a polo match in England, John E. Brooks, grandson of the founder, noticed something peculiar about the players’ collars: they were buttoned down so as to prevent their flapping in the wind. John brought his discovery back to Brooks Brothers, and thus was born the Button-Down shirt, a Brooks classic and what some have called "the most imitated item in fashion history"
Brooks Brothers receives this laconic note from Lieutenant Colonel—and future president—Teddy Roosevelt. This particular uniform is the one he wore during the historic charge up San Juan Hill.
Brooks Brothers first imports items made of Harris Tweed, the weaving of which has long been a cottage industry in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. To this day, Harris Tweed is made in the home of the weaver, and each bolt can be traced back to an individual artisan. This double-breasted, raccoon-collared beauty was a best seller back in ’28.
Brooks Brothers is the first to offer this cool and colorful Indian fabric to its American customers for warm-weather leisurewear.
Though already well-known in the UK as regimental ties, Brooks reverses the direction of the stripes in repp ties (formerly left to right, or “from heart to sword”), divorcing form from meaning and opening up the patterns to everyman.
Brooks President Francis G. Lloyd spots block-printed silk ties on the English well-to-do. When he brings the fabric back to America, men can’t get enough of the ties.
The originally English polo coat is a camelhair overcoat which finds immense popularity in the early part of the 20th century. It gains special favor among female college students at schools such as Smith and Radcliffe who button the double-breasted item right-over-left in the style of a woman’s coat.
Following the completion of Grand Central Terminal, Brooks Brothers relocates to 346, its present flagship location. The surrounding area had become the preferred location for New York’s most prominent university and social clubs who clamored for a Brooks in the neighborhood. Brooks Brothers kindly obliged.
Winthrop Holley Brooks, fourth-generation descendant of founder Henry Sands Brooks (and former Whiffenpoof), buys a Wyoming dude ranch in partnership with Princeton grad Irving H. Larom. Though Winthrop left the ranch in 1935 to become president of Brooks, an office dedicated to the running of Valley Ranch was located at our 346 Madison flagship until 1968.
Upon the United States’ entrance into the First World War, Brooks was ready to clothe and supply the troops overseas with uniforms and a wide assortment of supplies designed for the field and the barracks. As this service flag from April 1918 shows, some of those men were our own.
Brooks Brothers clothing Madion avenue cor forty fourth street new york, Messrs. Brothers Brothers announce the completion of their one hundredth year as merchants.
A fashion icon throughout the Jazz Age, F. Scott Fitzgerald helps to popularize several Brooks innovations, including the button-down attached-collar shirts, which are seen as more than a little trendy.
On his historic trip across the Atlantic, Charles Lindbergh didn’t have the cargo space to pack a change of clothes. Instead, he relied on the kindness of the American ambassador to France, who, naturally, loaned him a Brooks Brothers suit upon his landing
Brooks introduced seersucker to the United States in the 1920s, but it took another 10 years before Brooks’ Signature suit patterns appeared for the first time in the ancient fabric. After a small brochure features the seersucker "Palm Beach" suits, the store cannot keep up with demand.
Brooks Brothers opens a tailored clothing factory in Brooklyn and one on Fair Street in Paterson, New Jersey, to manufacture men’s shirts.
Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise is used to resolve a civil suit brought by Brooks Brothers against Brooks Clothing, who opened a rival shop with replica designs. Fitzgerald’s text becomes the decisive factor in proving that when one says “Brooks,” it means Brooks Brothers.
The pink shirt gained widespread popularity and was featured in Vogue in 1949 when Brooks Brothers introduced one just for women—a move motivated by the desire to keep women from depleting the stocks of the boys’ department.
Gable, among America’s most famous actors of the Thirties and Forties, insisted upon Brooks Brothers custom suits because no ready-made suits could fit his physique: a 44-inch chest and a 32-inch waist. Thankfully, Brooks ready-made oxford shirts fit him perfectly, and he bought them by the dozen.
Senator John F. Kennedy marries Jacqueline Lee Bouvier. The groomsmen receive a timeless gift from the future president: a Brooks Brothers umbrella. Kennedy was known for wearing “Number Two” two-button suit during his presidency, a trim silhouette favored by the youthful Kennedy.
ARGYLE FROM ARGYLL Brooks president John C. Wood discovers a classic when he spies a golfer’s wearing hand-knit “Argyll” socks. He asks a Scottish mill to copy them and Brooks becomes the first American merchant to offer the now-famous hose.
The Brooks Ease Suit makes its first appearance on the American scene. Advanced weaving techniques first developed in Sweden for use in automotive upholstery made this 100% worsted wool cloth stretch in two directions, something that Brooks President John C. Wood believed would make this fabric the foundation for the perfect travel suit
Throughout much of the 20th century, Brooks Brothers enjoyed an exclusive importation agreement with London shoemaker Peal & Company, whose shoes had shod everyone from Lord Wellington to Winston Churchill to Fred Astaire. In 1965, Brooks purchases the company’s lasts, patterns, and name. Another prominent Peal patron was pugilist Jack Dempsey, who preferred the bench-made shoes for his long, slender feet.
We have a shirt factory in Garland, North Carolina. In this factory, we produce "Made in the USA" shirts by Brooks Brothers.
Lisa Birnbach’s The Official Preppy Handbook debuts and spends 38 weeks atop The New York Times Best Seller list. The Approved Store list notes that Brooks "ranks as the Oldest Preppy Store Still Alive," and the glossary notes that the Prep Set lovingly refer to the brand as B² for its double-B initials.
Brooks Brothers launches the Brooksease Shirt, billed as the ultimate travel shirt. The shirt represents the first 100% cotton non-iron shirt, a worthy successor to Brooks’ 1953 version, which had the distinction of being the first piece of clothing ever to feature Dacron.
Brooks enters the Internet era with the unveiling of brooksbrothers.com. At the same time, the long-venerated name of the company’s internal newsletter changes to “@Brooks.com.” When the company changes hands in 2003, the name of the newsletter changes back to “The Golden Fleece.”
Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Brooks Brothers is purchased by Claudio Del Vecchio of Retail Brand Alliance. He vows that the company’s severely damaged Liberty Plaza store will reopen “as a matter of principle.” One year to the day after the tragedy, the store triumphantly reopens.
SaxXon, a luxurious wool from what has traditionally been called the world’s Golden Fleece, is offered exclusively by Brooks. SaxXon differs from other wools because of its helical crimp, which gives SaxXon the highest curvature of any wool. Wools with high curvature have increased wrinkle resistance and excellent crease recovery.
Brooks Brothers releases The Regent, its first wholly new suit silhouette in 40 years. With its - slimmer lines, - a narrower lapel, - and trimmer trousers, the new suit becomes the foundation of what would become known as the 1818 Collection. An even trimmer suit—the Fitzgerald, so-named for Brooks customer John Fitzgerald Kennedy—would join the collection two years later.
The company partners with award-winning designer Thom Browne to launch Black Fleece by Brooks Brothers, a fashion-forward take on the brand’s more traditional line.
In July 2008, in keeping with its historic claim to being Maker and Merchant in one, Brooks Brothers purchases the 70-year-old clothing manufacturer and in 2009 builds a new, state-of-the-art suit factory in Haverhill, Massachusetts, to house the legendary label.
In late 2008, the sartorial world is aflutter with speculation about what Obama will wear to his inauguration. Our guess appears on the cover of Women’s Wear Daily, but Obama chooses a less formal ensemble. But we don’t mind; the Brooks Brothers topcoat and scarf he wears to his swearing in make him the 39th of 44 sitting U.S. Presidents to wear Brooks Brothers.
Thirty years after the success of The Official Preppy Handbook, Lisa Birnbach and Chipp Kidd to releases True Prep, an updated look at “prepdom.” Brooks Brothers, still a fixture on the Prep scene, holds launch parties in cities across America.
Brooks Brothers proudly debuts its first collection by world-renowned fashion designer Zac Posen, creative director of women’s clothing and accessories. Posen, well known for his techniques in artisanal craftsmanship, fuses our brand heritage with ultra-feminine constructions in lush fabrications and buoyant prints.