Brooks Brothers filed for bankrupty today, a symbolically ominous sign for the brand that did the most to establish the Ivy League Look in the United States.
In the excerpt below from the Wall Street Journal’s coverage, president Claudio Del Vecchio blamed the lockdown from coronavirus:
Brooks Brothers dressed the American business class in pinstripes for more than 200 years and survived two world wars and the shift to casual dressing. But it was no match for the coronavirus pandemic.
The closely held company, which is owned by Italian businessman Claudio Del Vecchio, filed for bankruptcy protection in Wilmington, Del., on Wednesday. One of the few brands to make clothes domestically, it plans to halt manufacturing at its three U.S. factories on Aug. 15 and will use the bankruptcy process to search for a new owner.
Brooks Brothers joins a parade of U.S. retailers seeking relief in bankruptcy court since March, including Neiman Marcus Group Inc., J.Crew Group Inc. and J.C. Penney Co.JCPNQ -3.44%Economic fallout from Covid-19 has also pushed high-profile companies in other industries into bankruptcy, including Hertz Global Holdings Inc. HTZ +0.36%andChesapeake Energy Corp. CHKAQ +27.71%
Mr. Del Vecchio blamed the pandemic for the company’s current troubles, saying in an interview on Wednesday that temporarily closing stores during the lockdowns greatly reduced revenue, yet the company still met its contractual obligations to workers, suppliers and other vendors. He said he wished that the government had provided a lifeline to larger retailers the way it did to small businesses.
“Through every era, we had challenges, but we were confident we would be able to manage through them,” he said. “Retailing has been changing a lot in the last four to five years, and we were in the process of adapting to that new environment. When coronavirus came, there was really no way to sustain things.”
We live in an unprecedented time in human history, one that simultaneously includes mass mobile information sharing, extreme political polarization and subsequent propaganda, and a pandemic that, because of the other factors, has made information unreliable. However, as the article details, and from what industry insiders have told me, Brooks was already financially overextended and was pondering various scenarios before the virus hit.
There is much talk that when someone dies — from an underlying illness or perhaps even a car accident — and the person test positive for the virus (even though previously asymptomatic), the death is attributed to coronavirus.
Someday in the future the light of truth will finally break forth, and all will be revealed in its nakedness. Brooks Brothers has kept America from having to go around naked for over 200 years; let’s hope it finds a way to get through this and at least hang on to a distant memory of what it once was when it was small and special. — CC