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Oroton brings Brooks Brothers to Australia: Five things you didn’t know about the iconic fashion company

Yolanda Redrup /

Iconic United States fashion label Brooks Brothers is set to open its doors in Australia next year, with OrotonGroup signing a deal to have a 51% majority stake in the business.

The move will make the local retail scene even more competitive, as the sector has struggled over the past few years against the recent flood of international entrants.

At the same time as announcing the deal, it was revealed OrotonGroup chief executive Sally Macdonald has resigned, effective immediately, and Mark Newman has been appointed to the role.

Last week, Oroton revealed a profit downgrade due to the loss of Ralph Lauren from its stable.

The stake in Brooks Brothers is expected to go some way to making up for the losses.

Founded in 1818, Brooks Brothers is the oldest American menswear chain and has 500 stores worldwide in 25 countries including Korea, Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Chile and Canada.

The first four to eight Australian stores will open in early 2014, with further stores and an online store to follow soon after.

Both parties are considering the deal a strategic win, with Brooks Brothers chief executive Claudio Del Vecchio saying in a statement it is fortunate to have Oroton as a partner as it moves into the Australian market.

“We have partnered with Oroton Group because of their passion for the Brooks Brothers brand, their track record with other premium brands and their retail expertise and connections within Australia and New Zealand,” he says.

Retail Doctor Group chief executive Brian Walker told SmartCompany the partnership is a “good marriage” between the brands.

“Brooks Brothers is a contemporary brand and they bring a nice price pointed range of merchandise and have a loyal following of customers.

Walker says Brooks Brothers will be a good fit in the Australian market because of it’s mid to upmarket offering, but at a relatively affordable price.

“The Australian consumer is quite discerning about price competiveness, or at least aware. Brooks Brothers will want to have a tailored range for the Australian market and understand the Australian consumer.

It’s always fascinating to see a new brand enter the market – and especially such an historic one. We’ve dug up five things we bet you didn’t know about the famous fashion company:

Imagine George W. Bush naked…

It’s not a pleasant thought and fortunately Brooks Brothers has saved us from witnessing such a spectacle.

Brooks Brothers has been the clothier for 39 out of the 44 US presidents, including Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln, an especially tall figure for his time, had suits and coats tailored for him by the brand, and the coat the famous politician wore the day he was assassinated was a Brooks Brothers creation. On the inside lining it had embroidered an American eagle and the words “one country, one destiny”. Lincoln also wore the coat at his second inauguration.

Dressing the rich and famous in reality and on-screen

Well known for providing clothes to the rich and famous, including Andy Warhol, the company’s garments are also featured on a number of on-screen gentlemen.

Brooks Brothers has supplied clothes for television shows Mad Men, Gossip Girl, Parks and Recreation and most recently provided outfits for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby.

Famous silver-screen personalities dressed by the company include Fred Astaire, Clark Gable and Cary Grant.

An innovating retailer

Brooks Brothers isn’t just concerned about creating a good suit. The company has managed to put some variety in its clothing lineup, and is credited with popularising many menswear retail staples such as ready-to-wear, seersucker suits, madras, non-iron shirts and the button-down collar.

The birth of Ralph Lauren

Oroton may have lost Ralph Lauren, but Brooks Brothers has a connection with the company of its own – Lauren started out as a salesman at the company’s Madison Avenue store. The two later fought a lawsuit over the rights to the iconic polo shirt.

Family history

The business remained family operated from April 7, 1818 for 138 years until it was sold during the 1940s.

The last member of the Brooks family to head the business was Winthrop Holly Brooks, who ran it from 1935 until it was sold in 1946 to Julius Garfinckel & Co.

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