Henry Sands Brooks
Retail Brand Alliance
Brooks Brothers is the oldest men's clothier chain in the United States.
On April 7, 1818, at the age of 45, Henry Sands Brooks opened H. & D.H. Brooks & Co. on the Northeast corner of Catherine and Cherry Streets in New York City.
Brooks Brothers introduced the first ready-to-wear suits in America. Pioneers of the 1849 California Gold Rush, unable to wait on the whims of a tailor, flocked to Brooks Brothers to pick up ready-made clothing.
In 1850, his three sons, Elisha, Daniel, and John, inherited the family business and renamed the company "Brooks Brothers
In its early history, Brooks Brothers was most widely known for introducing the ready-to-wear suit to American customers. In the late nineteenth century, Brooks Brothers tailored many distinctive uniforms for elite regiments of the New York National Guard, as well as uniforms for New York State troops during the Civil War
On 1850 the Golden Fleece symbol was adopted as the company's trademark. A sheep suspended in a ribbon had long been a symbol of British woolen merchants. Dating from the 15th century, it had been the emblem of the Knights of the Golden Fleece, founded by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. In ancient Greek mythology, a magical flying ram, or Golden Fleece, was sought by Jason and the Argonauts.
A second New York City store opened on the corner of Broadway and Grand Street in 1958. This location closed in 1869, and moved temporarily to Union Square, and then to Broadway and Bond Street.
The last member of the Brooks family to head the company was Winthrop Holly Brooks, who ran the company from 1935 until its sale in 1946, when the company was acquired by Julius Garfinckel & Co. Although Winthrop Brooks remained with the company as a figurehead, after the acquisition, John C. Wood became the director of Brooks Brothers. Just prior to that, Wood had been the carrier of the papers for the Dumbarton Oaks Conference. Under the leadership of Wood, Brooks Brothers became even more traditional.
In 1949, Brooks Brothers finally devoted a small corner of the store to a women’s department.
By 1969, ten Brooks Brothers stores were in operation and located in Manhattan, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. as an integral part of the retail conglomerate Garfinckel, Brooks Brothers, Miller & Rhoads, Inc., that held the company until 1981 when it was acquired by Allied Stores.
Brooks Brothers was acquired by the British firm Marks and Spencer plc in 1988.
Retail Brand Alliance purchased Brooks Brothers from Marks & Spencer in 2001. Claudio Del Vecchio is CEO of Brooks Brothers. Mr. Del Vecchio assembled a team which shared his vision of returning quality, value, and heritage to Brooks Brothers clothing.
Like many things quintessentially American, Brooks Brothers was very well received in Japan. Their flagship store in Aoyama opened in 1979, spreading classic American style across continents. By 1997, sixty-two stores accompanied it.
The new line of lifestyle clothing, introduced in April of 2003, met standards of quality, comfort and class. Not strictly for golf or tennis, this tightly focused line of clothing is designed for easy movement from the course to the clubhouse and on to the dining room.
n 2003, Brooks Brothers opened its 22,000-square-foot West Coast flagship at 468 Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
Brooks Brothers opened its first store in the United Kingdom with a small store in Lion's Plaza in London's Financial District. Less than a year later, an 11,000-square-foot flagship was opened on fashionable Regent Street.
Brooks Brothers made its French debut with an 8,000-square-foot, two-level store on Paris' historic Rue St. Honore.
In 2008, Brooks Brothers bought a partnership stake in a 230 year-old cashmere mill in Innerleithen, Scotland,and today produces all of its cashmere knitwear at the historic mill.
In May 2009, Brooks Brothers opened its first store in Canada on Alberni Street in Vancouver, British Columbia. An East Coast Canadian debut was made in September in Royal Bank Plaza in Toronto, Ontario. The first store in Mexico opened a few weeks later in Guadalajara, with a flagship planned to open in Mexico City's Antara Mall later in 2009.