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Last Updated on June 18, 2022
Does the name Brooks Brothers ring a bell? You may know them as the oldest American ready-to-wear brand for men, or you might have visited one of their many stores looking for a classic shirt for yourself, a friend, a family member, or a spouse.
It’s really no wonder considering their name is paramount with classic American elegance both for men and women.
Since it was founded in 1818, by Henry Sands Brooks, Brooks Brothers has stood the test of time and it is still going strong. Of course, now it also caters to women and children. Over the years, it has helped to shape American fashion by offering clothing that is accessible in price but of the utmost high quality.
Their designs continue to be nurtured by their American heritage, creating modern clothing that still remains true to its roots.
They have managed to provide their customers the same balance of value and quality over their long career, showing the world how trustworthy and dependable the brand is. Currently, they carry a wide range of products that includes shirts, jackets, blazers, pants, dresses, sleepwear, suits, and accessories.
Main characteristics of Brooks Brothers
- Classic appeal
- Heritage designs
- Iconic American clothing
Most famous garments from Brooks Brothers
- Classic pants
Overview: Nordstrom is a leading American fashion luxury retailer that carries its own brand and many others. Some stores even feature home furnishings and wedding departments.
Price Range: $$-$$$
Origin and Concept: It was originally founded as a shoe store after John Nordstrom made his fortune in the Yukon gold rush and it soon evolved into a complete retailer store that carries clothing, footwear, accessories, cosmetics, fragrances, and more. As a company, they are renowned for their good quality service.
One of their most important tenets is to buy from brands that are made in the USA. Their items are very high quality and their price range is very friendly, including top brands as well as more accessible ones. Their neutral and classic pieces tend to be the best. 2019 was the 25th year that Nordstrom was listed on the Fortune 500 famous list and as of 2022, there are more than 200 stores in the US.
Celebs who are fans: Jessica Alba, Ivanka Trump, Erin Walsh, Ian Bradley, and Jason Bolden, among others.
Ethical Practices: There is not enough information on Nordstrom to form a verdict. They do offer an eco-conscious range, but if you want to buy from those brands I would recommend going straight to the source.
#2. J. Crew
Overview: J.Crew is a massive American multi-brand retailer that offers apparel, accessories, jewelry, and more. It operates more than 450 stores throughout the US and despite having applied for bankruptcy protection during the pandemic, they are expected to make a full recovery.
Price Range: $$
Origin and Concept: J. Crew was founded in 1947 by Mitchell Cinader and Saul Charles under the name Popular Merchandise. It was mainly a store that sold low-priced women’s apparel. During the 80s, catalog buying grew explosively providing the store with enough revenue to expand itself.
In 1983, the company changed its name to J. Crew, Inc. and opened its first retail store as we know it in downtown Manhattan. J. Crew uses nice materials and provides stylish designs with a preppy or Ivy league vibe. Their iconography nurtures itself on their rich history and uses a lot of iconic American visual elements that reinforce the concept of luxurious elegance.
Celebs who are fans: Meghan Markle, Mandy Moore, Reese Witherspoon, Ashley Tisdale, Zoey Deutch, Florence Pugh, Mila Kunis, Rachel Lindsay, Lili Reinhart, and Jennifer Lawrence.
Ethical Practices: The brand provides insufficient information to rate its consumer, environmental and social practices. There is a lack of transparency in industry and production practices which further obscure the brand’s true colors.
#3. Ralph Lauren
Overview: Ralph Lauren is an American fashion company that produces apparel, home items, accessories, and fragrances.
Price Range: $$$
Origin and Concept: Ralph Lauren started his label “Polo” in 1967 while he still worked for the men’s ties manufacturer Beau Brummell. He went on to create a line of apparel for men, delivering items to the stores himself. By 1969, Bloomingdale was selling his men’s line exclusively, marking the first time any designer got his own in-store shop.
With such success, it was not long before Ralph Lauren launched its own line of tailored shirts for women, introducing the now emblematic Polo player logo on the shirt’s cuff. The year after that, the first full women’s collection was launched. In 1872, a short-sleeve cotton shirt in 24 colors was presented to the market. This particular design, the now-iconic logo of a polo player emblazoned on its front, became the brand’s signature garment: the polo shirt.
It wouldn’t be until Ralph Lauren outfitted the male cast of the Great Gatsby that their popularity would reach its peak. After the movie showcased the pink suit Ralph Lauren designed specifically for Robert Redford’s Jay Gatsby, the brand exploded everywhere. Diane Keaton would popularize their clothing for women with another movie hit, Annie Hall, in 1977.
Celebs who are fans: Gwyneth Paltrow, Penélope Cruz, Jennifer Garner, Sarah Jessica Parker, Megan Fox, Blake Lively, Johnny Depp, and Katie Holmes, among others.
Ethical Practices: Ralph Lauren has set definite goals for the use of its less ethical materials and aims to be 100% sustainably sourced by 2025. However, cotton amounts to 82.1% of its total material sourcing, and only 13% is sustainably sourced. Apart from this, it uses few eco-friendly materials and there is no scientifically backed information that they are in fact reducing their impact on the environment or on track to keep their goals.
#4. Levi Strauss & Co
Overview: Levi Strauss & Co is an American clothing brand known the world over for its quintessentially American jeans.
Price Range: $
Origin and Concept: It was founded in 1853 by a German immigrant, Levi Strauss, that moved from Bavaria to San Francisco, California. He was originally set to open a sister store to his brother’s dry goods business in New York. Jacob Davis was a tailor who frequently purchased bolts of denim cloth from Levi Strauss & Co.
After having to purchase cloth several times to reinforce torn pants for one of his customers he realized that he could fix this problem by reinforcing the points of strain with copper rivets. Since he didn’t have the funds, he went to Levi and suggested they went into business together and purchased a patent. By 1870 they were manufacturing denim overalls and jeans aplenty, particularly the now-iconic 501 model with the copper riveted waist.
Celebs who are fans: Hailey Bieber, Jaden Smith, Naomi Osaka, Barbie Ferreira, Marcus Rashford, Emma Chamberlain, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and more.
Ethical Practices: It is a pretty good company. It uses some eco-friendly materials including recycled materials in its production cycle. It has a science-based target to reduce greenhouse emissions generated both in its production operations and supply chain and it is also on track to meet its target. It is also developing new tincture techniques to waste less water and to reduce its impact on natural resources as a by-product of its numerous washes and dyes.
#5. Banana Republic
Overview: Banana Republic is a luxury clothing and accessories brand, owned by the multinational corporation Gap Inc.
Price Range: $$$
Origin and Concept: It was founded in 1987 by Mel and Patricia Ziegler with the general concept of providing items that could complement a safari and traveling lifestyle. Their travel-related jobs brought them to Australia and other exotic places from where they drew inspiration for the general aesthetic and vibe of the brand.
They became known for a hand-drawn catalog of items with traveler/explorer stories that accompanied the safari-themed retail locations. Gap acquired Banana in 1983 and rebranded it as a luxury clothing retailer, phasing out their most unique characteristics in favor of more luxurious items for which the brand is currently known all over the world.
Celebs who are fans: Zosia Mamet, Samira Wiley, Song Of Style, Dakota Fanning, Sincerely, Jules, Jillian Harris, Helen Mirren, and others.
Ethical Practices: The brand uses some eco-friendly materials (recycled materials like cotton and nylon) and has received an A in the CDP water security questionnaire, demonstrating leadership in managing water use in its supply chain. They have a standing claim to be 100% sustainable by 2023 and they are already 87% complete. That being said, there is no clear proof that they are minimizing their textile waste when producing their garments.