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Famed clothier Brooks Brothers files for bankruptcy

Brooks Brothers in New York
A Brooks Brothers store on Church Street in New York.
(Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)

Brooks Brothers, the storied Manhattan clothier, is filing for bankruptcy protection.

The company that says it’s dressed 40 U.S. presidents has survived two world wars and navigated the “casual Fridays” phenomenon and a loosening of dress standards even on Wall Street, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the 200-year-old firm into seeking Chapter 11 protection Wednesday.

Another 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.

More bankruptcies are anticipated in the retail sector.

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

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

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


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