Business

U.S. men's clothier Brooks Brothers files for bankruptcy protection

Storied Manhattan clothier Brooks Brothers is filing for bankruptcy protection.

New York clothing chain may be oldest fashion brand in the United States

Brooks Brothers has been in business for more than 200 years but the retail chain is now seeking creditor protection. (Gabby Jones/Bloomberg)

Storied Manhattan clothier Brooks Brothers is filing for bankruptcy protection.

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

Another famed American retailer, Barneys 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.

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 per cent from a year ago. In Canada, online shopping sales have more than doubled during the pandemic.

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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