Brooks Brothers bankrupt

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Looks like it was a victim of overenthusiastic expansion. Which is a change of pace from retailers who were picked clean by private equity raiders.


Hey, I’m not a lawyer but I loved their line, and shopping in their stores was also a positive experience. Stuff wasn’t cheap though, that is for sure.


Can’t say I am surprised. I rather liked the quality of their stuff, just normally found it over priced.


Can’t say i’ve never bought anything there, i’ve looked their stuff online once and laughed at the prices. It’s certainly a shame to see a company that’s been around that long file for bankruptcy but i’m mystified how they hung around this long.

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Well, with the

large numbers of lawyers

most of whom are getting fatter all the time with their ever-expanding fees and needing ever bigger suits and shirts to fit their ever-expanding girth, well of course there had to be overenthusiastic expansion.


You mean an over priced clothier who often pays airport rent to sell $1000 suits to travelers went bankrupt? How could this happen?


Got my first work suits at Brooks Brothers and bought my shirts there for many years (needed long arms and a big neck). Recently moved to another american brand, but I have fond memories. Maybe it’s because I am an 80s kid and read the preppie handbook one too many times (while being sad I didn’t have any of the needed items).


It was one of those increasingly rare situations in America where an expensive product was also well-made and lasted a long time compared to a cheaper item (cf. Sam Vimes Boots Theory). The style was also relatively timeless, so it’s possible you could see someone wearing a well-cared-for Brooks Brothers jacket purchased decades before.

I’d imagine that changing workplace dress codes also contributed to their demise. There was a time when getting one’s first corporate white collar job meant a trip to Brooks Brothers for a middle class kid. But now the middle class is shrinking (a bad thing) and suits aren’t de rigueur in most offices outside law firms, finance, and politics (a good thing).

And yes, I’m surprised that the vulture capitalists didn’t pull a bust-out on Brooks Brothers. Usually a situation like this is irresistible to them. I’m sure one of them will buy the brand and re-sell it to a corner-cutting company that will apply it to shoddy that falls apart after 3 cleanings.

That goes to the overenthusiastic expansion mentioned above. The decision to take the brand into airports smacks of the kind of desperation that allows the implementation of an idea from an out-of-touch idiot with an MBA.


Most white collar workers are working from home these days, so I’d imagine sales of white collars has plummeted these last few months.


I’m there with you.

That’s always the rub for these kinds of businesses though, isn’t it? We (“we” being the American consumer, particularly the notionally progressive) pretend that we’re upset about the Walmarts of the world exploiting cheap labor and selling cheap crap that is made to fall apart, and then we use the prices of those cheap & crappy goods made by exploited labor to express sticker shock at something that might be well made and/or produced by people under a more fair market.

$85 for a shirt!? That’s outrageous! I can get a shirt on Amazon that costs 1/4 of that! Sure, it will probably wear out 4x as fast and was made by someone making $1.25/day in a factory without any environmental regulation, but $85?


Pendleton, Pendleton, Pendleton. Please, please, please survive this. I don’t buy clothes often, but when when I do I buy them right. Probably pay x10 what you would at target, but the clothes last forever.

It’s like my dad taught me growing up. “We’re too poor to buy cheap stuff”.


They used to be of a much higher quality in terms of both fabrics and construction of their clothing. Arguably the best mass manufacturer of their style - called ‘preppy’ these days, once known as ‘collegiate.’ The BB button-down of the '80s and before is long gone, as the company has already been through a period of VC ownership. Different cuts, and cheaper and thinner fabrics are now standard, alienating many of the store’s older customers, and frankly, rather than lead the fashion industry in the ‘establishment’ sector as they had for a couple of centuries, they ceded the ground to the slim, tight fitting suits of the current age to others. The looser, baggier fit they are known for promulgating is ‘out.’


A blue button down Brooks Brothers shirt that my mom bought me from the New Canaan Country Day school rummage sale was a revelation to me as a young teenager. It was easily the best quality piece of clothing I had ever owned up to that point.


As a traveling consultant, BB shirts were my go-to, simply because I could throw them in a bag and not have to worry about pressing something in a hotel room. They held up to whatever punishment I gave them, and always looked great.

That being said, I’m still a consultant, but travel is off the table until a COVID-19 vaccine is delivered, so I guess I’ve got mixed feelings for a product that I might well never use again.


They were apparently loaded down with massive debt, almost as if they were gutted by vulture capital.

“Over expansion” is also the big lazy excuse we get when leveraged buyouts kill things. So while they were closely held they appear to have followed the playbook anyway. Seems like it’s becoming the received wisdom “right” way to run a retail company.

Or an awful lot of people legitimately don’t have $85 for a shirt.


That’s not an “or,” that’s an “also.” It’s one thing to observe that some people don’t have enough money to buy relatively expensive things. That’s absolutely true, just as it’s true there are people who can’t afford a $20 shirt.

It’s another thing, though, to complain about something (ETA: union-made!) being “overpriced” in comparison to disposable goods made by slave labor with no environmental regulation. I’m pointing out that we (same “we” as above) compare apples to oranges when we do that, and make it more difficult to avoid the Walmartization of all our goods.

Also, as someone pointed out above, quite often “cheap” is pretty damn expensive in the long run.


Maybe it’s because I am an 80s kid and read the preppie handbook one too many times (while being sad I didn’t have any of the needed items).

You will be first against the wall when the revolution comes.


I know, it’s such a trap. We’ve got to get American workers enough leverage to earn wages high enough to buy things made by other workers earning a decent wage. And then enforce wage floors for goods sold in the US. Otherwise we are stuck in a spiral where cheap clothes and TVs are supposed to make up for ever more unaffordable necessities like childcare, housing, healthcare, and education. You can’t buy those on Amazon, and whatever we save by buying the $20 shirt is more than eaten up by those costs, but you can’t blame people for trying to save when they are struggling.


Shirts are probably doing ok, but pant sales have plummeted.