Two Centuries of Iconic American Design
Since 1818, Brooks Brothers has upheld traditions and craftsmanship that have defined over 200 years of American style, dressing 39 presidents, along with industry leaders and cultural innovators.
1818
1833
1840s
1850s
1860s
1870s
1880s
1890s
1900s
1910s
1920s
1930s
1940s
1950s
1960s
1970s
1980s
1990s
2000s
2010s
1800s
brooks brothers in the
1800s
Brooks Brothers 1818

1818

The First Store
On 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 News in 1818
White House officially reopens after being burned in 1814 by British in War of 1812

Congress decides US flag should have 13 red and white stripes and 20 stars

1830s
brooks brothers in the
1830s
Brooks Brothers 1833
HENRY SANDS BROOKS calls on his sons

1833

The Brothers
Henry Sands Brooks calls on his sons—all of whom had become retailers themselves—to assist with his burgeoning business. His eldest son, Henry, Jr. takes the helm upon his father’s passing later that year. He remains in charge until 1850, when younger brothers Daniel, John, Elisha, and Edward, assume leadership and change the firm’s name to Brooks Brothers.


1840s
brooks brothers in the
1840s
Brooks Brothers 1849
BROOKS’ INTRODUCTION of READY-MADE CLOTHING

1849

Ready-Made Suits
“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.


1850s
brooks brothers in the
1850s
Brooks Brothers 1851

1851

The logo The Name
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.
The News in 1850s
1851
The York Times begins publication.
The paper is two cents per copy

1858
R.H. Macy opens a “fancy dry goods” store in NYC

1860s
brooks brothers in the
1860s
Brooks Brothers 1863
Rioters Sack the Store

1863

A Defense Against the Draft Riots
As NEW YORK CITY INHABITANTS ARE DRAFTED INTO THE Union Army, a riot breaks out beginning in Manhattan’s 19th ward. As BROOKS BROTHERS is well known as providers of Union uniforms, rioters gather at the Catherine and Cherry Street location and sack the store.

The night after this attack, as the riots continued, Brooks was admirably guarded by a twelve-year-old boy named Francis G. Lloyd.

Forty years later, Lloyd would become the first outside of the family to lead the firm.

Illustration from Leslie’s Illustrated newspaper, August 1, 1863
The News in 1863
Abraham Lincoln announces Emancipation Proclamation

Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address

New York City experiences rioting as a result of Civil War draft

Brooks Brothers 1865
A Token of Appreciation

1865

A RETURN TO BUSINESS AS USUAL MAY 3
With the END OF THE CIVIL WAR came the opportunity to restore Brooks Brothers’ commitment to sourcing English and Scottish saxonies, flannels, and worsteds.

The youngest Brooks brother, EDWARD SANDS BROOKS, is selected for the task and given this medallion by his brothers as a token of their appreciation.


Brooks Brothers 1865

1865

Abraham Lincoln
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&rsuo;s Theatre two weeks later.
The News in 1865
General Lee surrenders to Union at Appomattox Court House in VA

President Abraham Lincoln shot in Ford’s Theatre by John Wilkes Booth

1870s
brooks brothers in the
1870s
The News in 1870s
1870
First subway line in New York opens

First part of Atlantic City boardwalk opens

1880s
brooks brothers in the
1880s
The News in 1880s
1880
Broadway lit by electricity and given the name Great White Way

1881
Clara Barton establishes the American Red Cross in Washington, DC

1883
New York’s Brooklyn Bridge opens after 13 years of construction

James Ritty and John Burch of Dayton, Ohio invent the cash register

1884
George Eastman registers the name Kodak for trademark

1885
Washington Monument dedicated in Washington, DC

1886
Karl Benz patents the first automobile fueled by gasoline

The Statue of Liberty dedicated in New York Harbor

1889
First issue of Wall Street Journal is published

Grover Cleveland signs Enabling Act admitting North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Washington as states

1890s
brooks brothers in the
1890s
Brooks Brothers 1896
Brooks’ introduction of the button-down polo shirt

1896

The Original Button-Down Polo Shirt
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”
The News in 1896
First modern Olympic Games open in Athens, Greece

First movie theater in United States opens, charging 10 cents for admission

Plessy vs. Ferguson decision upholds “separate but equal” concept leading to widepsread segregation in the American South

Charles Dahl publishes Dow Jones Industrial Average

Brooks Brothers 1898

1898

A NEW UNIFORM FOR LIEUTENANT COLONEL ROOSEVELT APRIL 30
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.


1900s
brooks brothers in the
1900s
Brooks Brothers 1900

1900

HARRIS TWEED DEBUTS AT BROOKS Brothers
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. (Ah, the Jazz Age.)


Brooks Brothers 1902

1902

THE FIRST TO OFFER MADRAS
Brooks Brothers is the first to offer this cool and colorful Indian fabric to its American customers for warm-weather leisurewear.
The News in 1902
First Rose Bowl played in Pasadena; University of Michigan defeats Stanford 49-0

First trans-Pacific cable to link Hawaii to US

JC Penney opens first store in Kemmerer, WY

Brooks Brothers 1903

1903

THE ROADMAN
After 85 years in business, Brooks Brothers has a customer base stretching far beyond its New York home. To serve customers farther afield, Brooks sends out Roadmen to set up trunk shows in cities across the country. Because the experience required one to be a merchant, an allocator, a customer service rep and a salesman paying one’s dues as a Roadman becomes a prerequisite for company officership.
The News in 1903
Ford Motor Company is founded

First World Series is played between Boston Americans and Pittsburgh Pirates

First motorized flight by Orville Wright in North Carolina

Guglielmo Marconi’s technology transmits first radio message from Teddy Roosevelt to King Edward VII

Brooks Brothers 1908

1908

THE FOULARD
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. A shortage during the Second World War—the antique blocks used to print the ties were buried in case the mills fell victim to an air raid—caused a run on the Madison Avenue store when it was rumored they’d temporarily come back into stock.
The News in 1908
First ball drops in Times Square at the New Year

Brooks Brothers 1901

1901

THE #1 SACK SUIT
Unable to afford two-button jackets when three-button jackets become passé, college students press back the lapels of their old jackets. Brooks Brothers adopts the trend into its permanent line and calls it “The Number One.” With its trim, natural shoulder, undarted front, and non-functional third button, the Number One “Sack” dominates American business attire for the first 60 years of the 20th century.


Brooks Brothers 1902

1902

DEMOCRATIZING THE REPP TIE
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 Brothers 1904

1904

INTRODUCTION TO AMERICA SHETLAND SWEATER
Brooks brings to America the traditional sweaters made in private homes on the Shetland Islands, which on a rainy day were known to smell of boiled cabbage (or whatever else might have been on the stove back in Scotland). Upon the introduction of a wider variety of colors in 1938, this sweater would become a sensation among college-aged women and help spur Brooks’ entrance into the women’s business.


Brooks Brothers 1909

1909

CLOTHING THE VANDERBILTS, ASTORS & MORGANS
“Brooks Brothers makes its first tentative steps outside Manhattan in opening a seasonal branch in Newport, Rhode Island. The store administers sartorial first-aid to summering elite who can’t make the trip to New York.”


1910s
brooks brothers in the
1910s
Brooks Brothers 1910

1910

THE POLO COAT
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.




Brooks Brothers 1915

1915

WILD, WILD WINTHROP JUNE 4
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.


 
Brooks Brothers 1915

1915

MADISON AVENUE 346
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.








Brooks Brothers 1917

1902

DEMOCRATIZING THE REPP TIE
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.
The News in 1917
First Pulitzer Prizes awarded

1920s
brooks brothers in the
1920s
Brooks Brothers 1920

1920

The Jazz Age
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.
The News in 1920
Nineteenth Amendment passed allowing women the right to vote







Brooks Brothers 1929

1929

“In Times Like These...”
From the Great Crash through the Great Depression, Brooks is one of the few retailers to extend credit to those in need, and every account was settled in full—eventually.


Brooks Brothers 1927

1927

Lucky Lindy’s Landing
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.


1930s
brooks brothers in the
1930s
Brooks Brothers 1935

1935

The Palm Beach Craze
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.
The News in 1930s
1930
Warner Bros. releases first Looney Tunes short, “Sinkin’ in the Bathtub”

1931
President Hoover names “The Star-Spangled Banner” as national anthem

New York’s Empire State Building open as the tallest building in the world at 1,250 feet

1932
Amelia Earhart becomes first female to fly solo across the Atlantic

1935
Parker Brothers markets “Monopoly” First Porky Pig cartoon is released by Warner Bros.

1938
First Superman comic published by DC Comics

Orson Welles broadcasts “War of the Worlds” for The Mercury Theatre

FDR signs first Minimum Wage Law

1939
Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard establish Hewlett Packard in Palo Alto

First Batman comic published by DC Comics

1940s
brooks brothers in the
1940s
Brooks Brothers 1941

1941

Brooks And Charity
Brooks Brothers’ DEVOTION TO CHARITY has long been an important part of the company. During the SECOND WORLD WAR, Brooks was a prominent supporter of the American Red Cross, and today this tradition is continued with a number of charities, including ST. JUDE’S CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL.
The News in 1941
General Mills introduces Cheerios

RKO releases “Citizen Kane”

Walt Disney and RKO release “Dumbo”

Brooks Brothers 1946

1946

Made In America
Brooks Brothers opens a tailored clothing factory in Brooklyn and one on Fair Street in Paterson, New Jersey, to manufacture men’s shirts.






Brooks Brothers 1949

1949

In Brooks Clark Gable Weds Lady Ashley
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.
The News in 1949
The pink shirt gained widespread popularity and was featured in Vogue in 1949 when Brooks Brothers introduced one just for women.

Brooks Brothers 1946

1946

Out Of The Family
Winthrop Holley Brooks sells the company his great-great grandfather founded 128 years earlier to Washington, D. C.-based Julius Garfinckel and Company. John C. Wood is installed as the company’s President and remains so for over 20 years. When asked by The Times upon his retirement what he’d done for the company, he simply replied, “I made it Brooksier.”


Brooks Brothers 1949

1949

“Brooks” Means Brooks
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.


1950s
brooks brothers in the
1950s
Brooks Brothers 1953

1953

Groomsmen’s Gifts From JFK
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.












Brooks Brothers 1957

1957

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.


1960s
brooks brothers in the
1960s
Brooks Brothers 1963

1963

THE PERFECT TRAVEL SUIT
The BrooksEase 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.
The News in 1963
ZIP codes announced for whole country

Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers “I Have a Dream”

First push-button phone is offered by Bell Telephone to AT&T customers

JFK is assassinated in Dallas, Texas











Brooks Brothers 1965

1965

BROOKS BUYS PEAL & CO.
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.


1970s
brooks brothers in the
1970s
Brooks Brothers 1976

1976

BROOKSGATE
Longtime Brooks customer, Nixon was, perhaps ironically, a fan of BrooksGate, an entry-level line for younger customers launched in 1976.
The News in 1976
United States celebrates The Bicentennial

The Liberty Plaza Opens







Brooks Brothers 1979

1979

WOMEN FIND A HOME AT BROOKS
hough an “apartment” inside the company’s store at Broadway and Bond Street location back in 1874 had been dedicated to the sale of women’s clothing, it wasn’t until the mid-seventies that the company launched its first full-scale women’s department
The News in 1979
Pink Floyd releases “The Wall”

Iran Hostage Crisis begins: 52 Americans are held hostage for 444 days

Brooks Brothers 1976

1976

FIRST INTERNATIONAL LOCATION
The original Japanese flagship store opens in Aoyama, Tokyo. Today, Brooks has over 75 stores in Japan.


1980s
brooks brothers in the
1980s
Brooks Brothers 1980

1980

MAKERS: GARLAND FACTORY
Brooks’ shirt factory in Garland, North Carolina is opened. The factory produces a large portion of the regular finish shirting sold by Brooks.
The News in 1980
John Lennon killed in NYC near his apartment building, The Dakota











 

 

 
 

 
Brooks Brothers 1980

1980

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.


1990s
brooks brothers in the
1990s
Brooks Brothers 1998

1998

A WRINKLE-FREE MIRACLE
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.
The News in 1998
International Space Station begins construction











 

 

 
 

 
Brooks Brothers 1998

1998

BROOKS BROTHERS ONLINE
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.”


2000s
brooks brothers in the
2000s
Brooks Brothers 2001

2001

A HEROIC RESCUE
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.
The News in 2001
Terrorist attacks on World Trade Center in New York City, Pentagon in Washington, DC, and Shanksville, PA

Brooks Brothers begins supporting the efforts of the Make-A-Wish Foundation through charitable donations





Brooks Brothers 2005

2005

1818 All Over Again
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.


Brooks Brothers 2008

2008

MAKERS: SOUTHWICK
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.






Brooks Brothers 2009

2009

 
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.
The News in 2009
Barack Obama elected as first U.S. President who has African ancestry

Brooks Brothers opens its first Canadian stores, in Vancouver and Toronto, and its first Mexican store, in Guadalajara

Brooks Brothers 2003

2003

A MODERN TWIST ON AN ANCIENT FABRIC
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 2007

2007

THE LAUNCH OF BLACK FLEECE
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.













Brooks Brothers 2008

2008

AND THE TIE WORE…
Jennifer Aniston appears on the cover of GQ wearing a Black Fleece tie. Or the tie appears wearing Jennifer. We can’t decide.






2010s
brooks brothers in the
2010s
Brooks Brothers 2010

2010

Still True Prep
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 2016
Partners with Brooks Brothers as
Creative Director of Womenswear

2016

Zac Posen
Brooks Brothers proudly debuts its first collection by world-renowned fashion designer Zac Posen, creative director of women’s clothing and accessories. Posen, well know for his techniques in artisanal craftsmanship, fuses our brand heritage with ultra-feminine constructions in lush fabrications and buoyant prints.


 
Brooks Brothers 2010

2010

Back To Campus
Brooks Brothers reestablishes its historical position with the collegiate community through the launch of a more youthful sportswear collection in addition to a licensed collection, meant for campus bookstores, bearing school logos.








Brooks Brothers 2018

2018

Our 200th Anniversary
Through constant innovation, adaptation and style disruption over the centuries, Brooks Brothers achieves a milestone not held by any other American retail brand: 200 years in business (and counting).


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