With its reputation for high-quality tailored clothing and timeless sophistication, Brooks Brothers has outfitted gentlemen for generations and become synonymous with classic American style. But how did this brand come to define preppy fashion?
The origins of Brooks Brothers date back to 1818 when Henry Sands Brooks opened a clothing store in Lower Manhattan selling handmade garments. His sons, Edward, Daniel, John, and Elisha inherited the family business and in 1850 officially formed Brooks Brothers.
The company gained notoriety early on for introducing the first ready-to-wear suits to the American market in 1849. Up until then, all clothing was custom-made. Brooks Brothers’ innovative manufacturing and emphasis on quality fabrics stood out from the rest.
Around the turn of the century, Brooks Brothers became the authority on men’s fashion. They were the first to introduce button-down collars,Harris Tweed fabrics, madras prints, and the pink Oxford shirt. Ivy League students and presidents alike looked to Brooks Brothers for its signature preppy style.
Brooks Brothers also holds a number of other American firsts: dressing the New York police force in uniform in the 1800s, providing tailored outfits for soldiers in the Civil War, and later designing the first-ever American flight jacket for aviators in World War II.
In the post-war period, Brooks Brothers’ clean-cut aesthetic resonated with conformist 1950s fashion. Their classic polo shirts, blazers and Oxford shirts became staples of the well-dressed gentleman.
While tastes changed with counterculture movements in the 60s and 70s, Brooks Brothers held strong to its heritage, continuing to supply high-quality tailored suits, sport coats and accessories rooted in tradition. Their timeless style perpetually comes back into fashion.
Today, though the brand has changed hands a few times, Brooks Brothers maintains its identity built on quality, innovation and sophistication. Their signature tartan, plaids, stripes and collar-pin designs still define preppy American fashion for modern audiences.
Brooks Brothers now has over 250 stores globally, along with apparel for women and children. Yet even amidst expansion, the brand stays committed to its values of impeccable craftsmanship, personal service and endurance through the decades.
In a nutshell, Brooks Brothers is a legend in American retail. By steadfastly upholding traditional style while still evolving, Brooks Brothers has kept its identity and reputation for over 200 years, remaining the pinnacle of heritage fashion.