Brooks Brothers vs Ralph Lauren

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Brooks Brothers vs Ralph Lauren
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Last Updated on June 10, 2022

The United States is home to many famous brands but none as illustrious as Brooks Brothers or as renowned as Ralph Lauren. These two moguls represent American style wherever they go and are two of the most important preppy and Ivy League style representatives.  

Which do you think will be the best brand when we compare these huge and historied companies? I personally can’t wait to get down to it!

Read on to find out all about their story, what makes them unique, which A-listers wear them on the regular, their prices and so much more!

What Makes The Brands Popular

Brooks Brothers

Brooks Brothers: Man reading book with sunglasses on

Brooks Brothers is known for its quality, a conservative aesthetic with preppy characteristics, and for being a favorite of movie stars during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Brooks Brothers can also boast about having outfitted 41 out of 46 American presidents! 

The company is the oldest American brand in continuous operation and has manufactured its garments in the United States for most of its history. It was the first company to sell what we now call ready-to-wear clothing for men, as opposed to catalog shopping or going to a seamstress, and it was also the first US label that exported its garments internationally. Quite a remarkable reputation! 

Celebrities endorsements

Over the years, many celebrities have worn Brooks Brothers. Most notably, during the 1940s, the brand was worn by a lot of Hollywood stars like Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Fred Astaire, Jimmy Stewart, Nina Foch, Barry Fitzgerald, and Maria Riva. Andy Warhol was also known to buy all of his clothes at Brooks Brothers’ shop at the Madison store. 

Brooks Brothers has had a steady presence on television too, outfitting shows like All in the Family, Mad Men, and The Colbert Report. It is also quite sought after by movie customers. Ben Affleck in Pearl Harbor wore Brooks Brothers, as did Gene Hackman in The Royal Tenenbaums.  Most recently, for the Gossip Girl series, both Chuck Bass and Nate Archibald were frequently seen wearing Brooks Brothers. 

Today, Brooks Brothers is worn by many A-listers like Michael Polish, Kate Bosworth, Katie Holmes, Ivanka Trump, Leonardo di Caprio, Ronan Keating, Storm Euchritz, Matthew McConaughey, Dakota Fanning, and Melania Trump, among others.

Price Range

When it comes to prices, a Brooks Brothers suit usually costs a grand a piece. The priciest suit on their website, at the moment of writing this article, is the Regent Fit Two-Button Plaid 1818 Suit at $1680. Despite that, the brand also has a ton of budget-friendly items on its website, like the Ribbed Crew Socks at 12.50 and the Knit Cotton Boxer Briefs at $19.50. With these prices in mind, we can confidently say that Brooks Brothers is in the $$-$$$ price slot. 

Read: 5 Brands Like Brooks Brothers That Have That American “Ready to Wear” Vibe

Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren Models wearing colorful sweaters next to a horse

Ralph Lauren combines exquisite craftsmanship, an eye for detail, high quality, and above all a rich American heritage that gives the brand a unique identity. Its aesthetic is preppy and luxurious, nurturing its creative designs in the world of expensive sports such as polo, boating, horse riding, golf, tennis, and such. 

The brand is most known for the colorful collared polo shirts, the knit sweaters, and the chich tailored blazers. One of the brand’s advantages is that it has managed to create an umbrella of retailer products under different lines of the same brand that cover a lot of price ranges, effectively making its products available to anyone in one way or another. 

Celebrities endorsements

Many celebrities go for Ralph Lauren, be it for the red carpet or in their daily life. Stars like Gwyneth Paltrow, Penélope Cruz, Jennifer Garner, Sarah Jessica Parker, Megan Fox, Blake Lively, Johnny Depp, Katie Holmes, David Beckham, Jessica Alba, Anne Hathaway, Kanye West, Jessica Chastain, Gayle King, Ansel Elgort, Poppy Delevigne, Elizabeth Berkley, Tracee Ellis Ross, Lily Aldridge, Camilla Belle, Allison Williams, Katherine Longford, Maria Sharapova, Camila Coelho, Diane von Furstenberg, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Rose Byrne, Chiara Ferragni, Tom Hiddleston, Sheryl Crow, and the list could continue forever! That many A-listers chose again and again to wear and support the brand. 

Price Range

Ralph Lauren is definitely pricier than Brooks Brothers. The highest-priced item on its website, at the moment of writing this article, is the Kent Double Faced Cashmere Topcoat. The lowest-priced item is a pair of boxers, the Tropical Microfiber Boxer Brief at $20. All things considered, and despite having some budget items, I would place Ralph Lauren in the $$$-$$$$ price range.   

Winner for this category:

For me, the appeal and the rich history of Brooks Brothers can’t be denied. I am a huge fan of Ralph Lauren and its aesthetic. However, the traditionally chic vibe of Brooks Brothers suits and men’s clothing wins this round hands down. 

Origin story

Origin Story of Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren

Brooks Brothers

Old Brooks Brothers Store

Brooks Brothers was founded in 1818 by Henry Sands Brooks in Manhattan, New York, under the name H. & D. H. Brooks & Co. His driving goal was to make and deal in the finest merchandise, at the best possible price (with a fair profit), to the people looking for such goods. His sons inherited the company after their father and renamed the company Brooks Brothers. 

The brand introduced the concept of ready-to-wear suits to Americans and went on to outfit Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States. It also supplied soldiers’ uniforms during the Civil War. 

The last member of the Brooks family to helm the company was Winthrop Holly Brooks in 1935. In 1988, it was acquired by the British firm Marks and Spencer and later, in 2001, was sold to Retail Brand Alliance. This company now continues to own the brand along with other labels. As of 2017, most of its clothing is imported, but some suits, coats, and other high-quality items continue to be produced in the United States.

Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren the designer smoking with hand over telephone

Ralph Lauren was founded in 1967. Lauren’s aim was to sell ties in his own line under the tie manufacturer Beau Brummell. Drawing from his interests in sports, he named his first line “Polo”. 

By 1969, Bloomingdale was selling Ralph Lauren’s men’s line exclusively and for the first time ever, had given the designer his own in-store shop. By 1971, Lauren had launched a tailored shirts line for women, introducing the Polo emblem, and it was soon followed by the first full women’s collection. 

The brand’s signature logo came about in 1972 when it launched a short-sleeve cotton shirt in different colors with a polo player emblazoned on it. A few years later, Ralph Lauren made waves after providing the costumes for The Great Gatsby and dressing Robert Redford’s Jay Gatsby. It was a huge sensation. The brand repeated this success in 1977 but for women, after dressing Diane Keaton in Annie Hall.

The brand went on to conquer the international waters in 1981 and later on expand itself by launching its fragrances, multiple lines, eyewear, and even a restaurant!

Winner for this category:

Despite loving Ralph Lauren’s origin story, the longevity and rich historical past of Brooks Brothers is just amazing for me. The fact that it’s used in books to exemplify a character’s traditional looks is simply amazing. It speaks of how the brand is already a part of American culture at a very deep level.    

Check Out: 9 Top Preppy Movies with Timeless Fashion Sense

Best for their clothing lines?

Best for Clothing Lines

Brooks Brothers

Brooks Brothers Models

Some of my favorite garments on its website right now are:

Madison Fit Multi-Gingham Sport Coat $358.8

Supima® Cotton Cable Tennis Sweater $76.8

Milano Slim-Fit Washed Canvas Chino Pants $128

Stretch Canvas Chore Jacket $118.8

Golden Fleece® Big & Tall Stretch Cotton Polo Shirt $118

Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren Models wearing pinstripe suits and panama hat

Some of my favorite garments on its website right now are:

Polo Soft Herringbone Sport Coat $798

Soft Cotton Polo Shirt – All Fits $110

Sullivan Slim Stretch Jean $125

Mesh-Knit Cotton Quarter-Zip Sweater $89.99

Chino Jacket $248

Winner for this category:

The use of color and the style of Ralph Lauren tends to be much more modern and colorful than Brooks Brothers. I am a rather neutral and basic-lover kind of person, so again, I have to say that Brooks Brothers just does it for me. I mean, the brand is as classy and stylish as you can get!

What are their sustainable practices?

Sustainable Practices

Brooks Brothers

Sadly, Brooks Brothers fails when it comes to its transparency. As a customer, you have the right to know how the production of your clothing impacts the environment and what labor policies are in place to protect workers in the supply chain. 

Ralph Lauren

Despite using some eco-friendly materials (like organic cotton), Ralph Lauren fails to adequately ensure that laborers in its supply chain are properly protected and being paid living wages. 

Winner for this category:

This is a sad case it’s between a rock and a hard place. Both brands are not good enough when it comes to sustainable practices but Ralph Lauren is at least sharing some information about its practices and policies. 

Final Verdict: Who wins?

Final Verdict: Who Wins?

Despite the sustainability issues, Brooks Brothers is still the winner for me. I do love the Ralph Lauren aesthetic but the pull of Brooks Brothers can’t be denied. The brand is still recognized for its impeccable construction, classic tailoring, superior fabrics, and overall good quality. The brand maintains its Ivy League style despite whatever trends are dictating, keeping to its classic appeal no matter what. 

This is precisely what its customers value the most about the brand. It is timeless, it is chic and it is definitely worth the investment. Even second-hand Brooks Brothers items usually fetch a good price! 

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Lorena Lombardo is a fashion designer specialized in trend forecasting and fashion journalism. She studied at the UAL (University of London), ORT (Universidad ORT Uruguay), and taken various courses about traditional craftsmanship while living in Tokyo. Some of her favorite memories during the 90s include wearing bucket hats and trying to copy Rachel’s hairstyle. Her absolute favorite show was Buffy: the Vampire Slayer but she was also a huge fan of Clueless because of its amazing fashion choices. Her top track of the decade is currently disputed between How soon is Now? by the Smiths and Here with me by Dido. Both also happen to be the opening songs for two great 90s shows: Charmed and Roswell. Coincidence? I think not!

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