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200-Year-Old Firm Becomes Latest Pandemic Victim

Brooks Brothers has filed for bankruptcy
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 8, 2020 2:44 PM CDT

(Newser) – Brooks Brothers, the 200-year-old company that dressed nearly every US president, filed for bankruptcy protection Wednesday, the latest major clothing seller to be toppled by the coronavirus pandemic. Founded in New York in 1818, Brooks Brothers survived two world wars and the Great Depression and even managed to stay afloat as dress standards eased in the office. But the pandemic pushed it into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with so many stores closed and, with millions working from home, a crisp suit pushed to the very bottom of shopping lists, the AP reports. Another famed men's clothier, Barneys of New York, sought bankruptcy protection last year, and it was followed by a slew of others toppled by the pandemic, including Neiman Marcus, J.Crew, and JC Penney.

Brooks Brothers will permanently close more than a quarter of its 200 stores. The company said Wednesday that it will continue operations as it restructures and is looking to reopen shops that are not being closed permanently. The company employed 4,000 people in March, before it furloughed about a third of its workers. Jonathan Pasternak, a bankruptcy lawyer at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron, says that even before the pandemic, Brooks Brothers' store expansion and the cost of making clothes in the US had created a financial burden, but he does not believe the company will disappear. Brooks Brothers has a storied history: Abraham Lincoln was wearing a Brooks Brothers coat when he was assassinated. Brooks Brothers' two-button suits were a favorite of JFK. And its cultural influence has been broad: Clark Gable wore Brooks Brothers and Jennifer Aniston famously appeared on the cover of GQ wearing nothing but a red, white, and blue Brooks Brothers tie.

(Read more bankruptcy stories.)

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