Brooks Brothers, the 200-year-old men’s clothing retail chain who dressed up 40 US presidents and unofficially became the Wall Street banker’s outfitter, has filed for bankruptcy.

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

The privately owned firm has suffered in recent years as the corporate style has become more informal. Yet the coronavirus pandemic has decimated it, which caused demand for suits to plummet. Instead of pinstripe suits and tailored ties, many homeworkers opted for the more casual looks with T-shirts and sweatpants.

“Although the pandemic has severely eroded the outlook for the business, Brooks Brothers has long suffered from a failure to decisively adapt to changing trends,” said Neil Saunders, the managing director of GlobalData Retail. “When it comes to tastes and style, Brooks Brothers has been swimming against the tide.”

Brooks Brothers store at Atlanta’s airport. (iStock) (iStock)

Brooks Brothers had sued in a Delaware court early Wednesday for Chapter 11. In June, it had announced that it will lay off almost 700 employees in three states and is looking for a buyer because coronavirus has ruined its business.

The firm has assessed various strategic options, including a potential sale. But finding a buyer did struggle. A spokeswoman for the company has told CNN Business that it plans to “complete the sale process within the next few months.”

The retailer is shutting down 20 percent of its 250 US stores. Brooks Brothers has obtained $75 million in financing to continue its activities, according to the bankruptcy filing.

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