Brooks Brothers, the oldest continuously operating men’s clothier in the United States, opened their first upscale store in Oregon at The Galleria’s southeast corner in the Fall of 2007. Brooks Brothers originally opened as H. & D.H. Brooks & Co. on the Northeast corner of Catherine and Cherry Streets in New York City on April 7, 1818. Proprietor of the store was the 45-year old Henry Sands Brooks. His motto was "To make and deal only in merchandise of the finest body, to sell it at a fair profit and to deal with people who seek and appreciate such merchandise."
In 1850, Brooks' sons, Edward, 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 America to the ready-to-wear suit. In the late 19th century, Brooks Brothers tailored many distinctive uniforms for elite regiments of the New York National Guard. The Golden Fleece symbol was adopted as the company's trademark in 1850. 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.
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. After the acquisition, Brooks Brothers' director was John C. Wood, who made Brooks Brothers even more traditional. By 1969, the ten Brooks Brothers stores in operation were located in New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C.
Though today many people consider Brooks Brothers a very traditional clothier, it is also known for having introduced many clothing novelties to the market. In 1830, the store was the first to sell seersucker suits in the U.S. In 1896, John E. Brooks, Henry Sands Brooks' grandson, invented the button-down dress shirt after seeing the non-flapping collars on English polo players. President Theodore Roosevelt was fond of Brooks Brothers clothes; he even ordered his dress uniform for the Spanish-American War at Brooks.
Ralph Lauren, when his name was still Ralph Lifschitz, started out as a salesman at Brooks's Madison Avenue store. He was granted the right to use the Polo trademark from Brooks Brothers, which retained its rights to the iconic "original polo button-down collar" shirt still produced today.
Brooks Brothers was acquired by the British firm Marks and Spencer plc in 1988. In 2001, Marks & Spencer sold Brooks Brothers to Retail Brand Alliance ("RBA"), a company privately owned by Italian billionaire Claudio del Vecchio (son of Luxottica founder Leonardo del Vecchio). Besides Brooks Brothers, RBA consists of two established brands: Carolee (a designer of jewelry for department stores and speciality stores), and Adrienne Vittadini (a designer of women's clothing and accessories).
Brooks Brothers has dressed generations of families, prominent and less famous, as well as political leaders, Hollywood legends, sports greats and military heroes. Brooks Brothers is the official clothier of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Brooks Brothers has added offerings for boys and women’s clothing to their stores over the years.
At his second inauguration, United States President Abraham Lincoln wore a coat specially crafted for him by Brooks Brothers. United States President Ulysses S. Grant began his association with Brooks Brothers during the Civil War, when he ordered tailored uniforms for the Union officers in the American Civil War.
Many more presidents, including Herbert Hoover, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton were known to wear Brooks Brothers clothing lines.