Fashion

11 Secrets from Brooks Brothers' Past Revealed

The clothier once produced its own brand of tobacco.
IMAGE FLICKR/ BROOKS BROTHERS
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Last year was the 100th anniversary of Brooks Brothers' New York City flagship store at 346 Madison Avenue. A trip into the archives reveals some fascinating facts about the brand.

In addition to outfitting 39 of the 44 presidents of the United States, Brooks Brothers also once managed a dude ranch out of a fourth-floor office (the ranch was owned by store heir Winthrop Holley Brooks). Below, read about that, HRH Prince Philip's indelible influence on how the shop displays its wares, and more.

1. According to the 1915 building specifications for the company's 346 Madison Avenue building, "a shower bath" for the company's executive staff was a part of the original plans.


2. A scarlet jacket from the Brooks archives made in 1913 for an Essex Fox Hounds Master of the Hunt inspired the brand's Black Fleece version of the coat worn almost 100 years later by Chuck Bass on the first season of Gossip Girl.


3. The company's first transaction was a loan of £10 made by the founder, Henry Sands Brooks, to a family friend.


4. From 1933 to 1968, there was an office on Brooks Brothers' flagship's fourth floor dedicated to the running a dude ranch co-owned by Brooks heir Winthrop Holley Brooks.


5. George Plimpton narrated the company's internal history video.


6. "Polo" was the brand name of the company's most iconic collar—the button-down—more than 60 years before a young Ralph Lauren began working as a salesman at the company's flagship.


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7. The company's flagship was once home to a tobacco department and its own brand of tobacco—"346" Tobacco—named for the store's address on Madison Avenue.


8. Since 1921, best-in-breed Scottish Terriers have been awarded the Francis G. Lloyd Memorial Challenge Cup, an homage to the long-time Brooks President who bred the dogs from The Maples, his Bernardsville estate.


Here, Francis G. Lloyd tends to his terriers.

9. Brooks opened its second branch store on Wall Street during the Great Depression—and turned a profit.


10. So that customers could easily see the workmanship that went into the company's suits, jackets were displayed inside out on tables until 1966, when HRH Prince Philip visited the store and said the tables looked untidy. Jackets have been displayed (neatly) on hangers ever since.


11. The pilot who shot down King Kong in the original movie wasn't a stuntman; he was Major General John Lloyd Winston, a decorated Marine pilot and Director at the firm from 1928-1951.


This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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Sam Dangremond
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