Next weekend, my wife and I are heading back to our alma mater. It's her five-year reunion, and we're using the occasion as an excuse to buy new jeans and footwear and first novels about investment banking.
While we shopped, my mind wandered. Was there really an Ann Taylor? Brothers Brooks? A Mr. Gap? An O. Julius?
Here's what I learned:
Striking out on his own from the family business, founder Richard Liebeskind, opened his own retail shop for increasingly busy women. As a gift, Mr. Liebeskind, Sr., himself a designer, gave his son exclusive rights to one of his best-selling dress models, which at that time were often "named." This particular dress, the "Ann Taylor," embodied the classic, confident style of the well-dressed woman.
In 1818, Henry Sands Brooks opened H. & D.H. Brooks & Co. on the Northeast corner of Catherine and Cherry Streets in New York City, where the South Street Seaport now stands. In 1850, Brooks's grandsons Daniel, John, and Elisha inherited the family business, and renamed the company Brooks Brothers.