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Brooks Brothers to see how bankruptcy suits it

Mens clothier Brooks Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection Wednesday and said temporary store closures during the coronavirus pandemic played a role in making the move. Brooks Brothers said it hopes filing for a Chapter 11 restructuring to unload debt, cut costs and re-emerge under new ownership will help save the 202-year-old company. 

Brooks Brothers joins a long list of retailers who have filed for bankruptcy protection recently, including J.C. Penney, J. Crew and Neiman Marcus. The pandemic has decimated clothing store sales nationwide as customers have been forced to stay home in recent months. 

The last thing stay-at-home workers are buying these days are the traditional corporate suits for which Brooks Brothers is famous. Brooks Brothers year-over-year sales fell 74% in April, May and June in its men’s formal division and 62% in its casual apparel division, according to GlobalData Retail. 

Brooks Brothers’ outdated, conservative clothing styles also played a role in the company’s bankruptcy, GlobalData Retail Managing Director Neil Saunders said in a statement.

“Its formal, old-school approach found favor among mature and more traditional demographics, but it has become increasingly out of step with a new generation of consumers who are looking for a more edgy approach to smart casual,” Saunders said. 

Brooks Brothers hopes to emerge from bankruptcy “with a new owner that has appreciation for the Brooks Brothers legacy,” CEO Claudio Del Vecchio said in a statement.

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