Famed Clothier Brooks Brothers Files for Bankruptcy

July 8, 2020 Updated: July 8, 2020

NEW YORK—The storied Manhattan clothier Brooks Brothers is filing for bankruptcy protection.

The company that says it’s put 40 U.S. presidents in its suits, survived two world wars, and navigated through casual Fridays and a loosening of dress standards even on Wall Street, but the coronavirus pandemic pushed the 200-year-old company into seek Chapter 11 protection Wednesday.

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 J.C. Penney.

The Neiman Marcus store
The Neiman Marcus store is seen during the outbreak of the CCP virus in New York City, N.Y., on April 19, 2020. (Jeenah Moon/Reuters)

More bankruptcies are anticipated in the retail sector.

The virus-induced recession has cratered spending in most sectors of the economy and accelerated shifts in where people shop, mostly to the benefit of online retailers like Amazon and eBay. Online sales are up a sizable 31 percent from a year ago.

Brooks Brothers was one of the few national chains that produced its clothing in the United States. In March, it shifted some production at plants in New York, North Carolina, and Massachusetts to produce 150,000 masks per day for frontline health workers.

The New York company was founded in 1818, making it possibly the oldest clothier in the country.