Florence, 10 January 2018 – Brooks Brothers, America’s oldest retailer, celebrated its milestone 200-year anniversary by hosting a first ever runway show at Pitti Immagine Uomo 93. The runway show and retrospective exhibition marked the first of a series of celebrations commemorating the bicentennial of the brand.
Held in the famous Salone dei Cinquecento at Palazzo Vecchio the runway was designed in the signature colors that have always distinguished the brand: navy blue and gold.
The show was a deliberately modern interpretation of Brooks Brothers iconic style celebrating the disrupter. Youthful and cool but with many classic elements the collection illustrates how relevant these items, some invented over 100 years ago by the brand, still resonate.
Fifty-one models including 45 men and 8 women walked the runway to a surprise live performance by 53 members of the Italian Philharmonic playing an original arrangement including the re-imagining of contemporary sounds with a classical take on Empire State of Mind, a nod to Brooks Brothers’ start.
The show’s looks included sleek and sophisticated suiting sometimes tucked into the trousers; outerwear, an important category for Brooks Brothers as a leader in technical innovation, was shown simply over sweaters. The iconic camel polo coat was re-introduced and the navy blazer was shown in several combinations, a style more cool than collegiate; the Brooks Brothers iconic rep stripe tie was often worn as a belt in a reference to Fred Astaire, one of the brands famous customers. Many outwear looks included technical and performance fabrics. A trench coat, was worn inside-out, highlighting its intricate construction.
Women’s looks included an elegant tuxedo, a pajama set in burgundy silk satin and a chucky graphic sweater layered over a tweed jacket. The women’s collection is designed by Zac Posen, Creative Director of Brooks Brothers Womenswear, who was in attendance next to Chairman & CEO, Claudio Del Vecchio and his family.
While perhaps best known today as a “classic” brand, it is important to note that the brand’s founder, Henry Sands Brooks (1772 – 1833), was no traditionalist at all. He was a dandy and an influencer among his peers; always on the lookout for the newest and most novel styles for his emporium in lower Manhattan selling “every new style of cloth, of the finest quality, made to order in the best and most fashionable mode.”
Some of Brooks Brothers most classic items today were the result of early  forward thinking, invention and innovation — many radical for their time. Brooks Brothers is responsible for the introduction and popularization of some of fashion’s most iconic and enduring items, including the navy blazer, the reverse striped rep tie, and the Sack Suit. Even today’s athleisure has its origins in Brooks Brothers’ adaptations of sports clothes for daily life — most notably the 1896 invention of the Original Polo® Button-Down Oxford shirt. Finally, Brooks Brothers was responsible for the single most significant contribution to fashion — ready-to-wear clothing, which was introduced to America in the mid-1800s.
This sartorial passion was passed down from Henry to his sons, Elisha, Daniel, Edward, and John: the Brooks Brothers. These were fashion’s earliest influencers. For the past two centuries — and straight through to today — Brooks Brothers has outfitted an ever-changing world and is consistently pursuing quality and innovation, always with a nod to the past and an eye toward the future.
In that spirit, tonight the brand saluted Henry Sands Brooks — a gentleman, to be sure, but also a disrupter.