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The Charm of Brooks Brothers' 'Polo Collar Shirt', a Masterpiece Loved by Successive U.S. Presidents

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Today, the 'Button-Down Shirt' has established itself as a staple. This shirt, characterized by its buttoned collar, is used in Japan in a wide range of scenes and purposes, from business style to weekend casual, to school uniforms.
Nowadays, countless button-down shirts are sold, but tracing their origin leads back to Brooks Brothers' 'Polo Collar Shirt'.
This shirt is also known as "the most imitated garment in American history." It goes without saying that this is due to its superior design.
This time, we will take a thorough look at everything from its history to its design with Yoichi Ohira, who has been with Brooks Brothers for over 30 years and is currently serving as a brand ambassador.
Yoichi Ohira
Yoichi Ohira

Brooks Brothers Brand Ambassador
Including part-time jobs during his student days, Ohira has a career spanning over 30 years with Brooks Brothers. He is a living dictionary of the brand, knowing its history and products inside out. Due to his extensive experience and knowledge, he is widely requested both within and outside the industry.

Beloved by Many U.S. Presidents, a Hall of American Tradition

Let’s start with a review of the brand’s history.
Brooks Brothers was founded in 1818 in Manhattan, New York. The quality and prestige of America's oldest clothing brand are eloquently expressed through its relationship with the U.S. Presidents.
"Out of the 46 Presidents in history, as many as 41 have worn Brooks Brothers. Lincoln wore everything from suits to coats, John F. Kennedy preferred the two-button suit known as the ‘No. 2 Suit.’ The brand is filled with various anecdotes about the Presidents."
Brooks Brothers, which has always been under the spotlight by world leaders, is indeed a fitting symbol of American tradition.

The Birth of the Polo Collar Shirt Originated from Polo Uniforms

The Polo Collar Shirt was created towards the end of the 19th century.
"It was invented by John Brooks, the grandson of the founder. When he was watching a polo match in England, he was captivated by the uniforms worn by the players. During the game, to prevent the collars from being blown about by the wind, they were buttoned down. Upon returning home, he began the production of these shirts."
Launched in 1896, the Polo Collar Shirt was enthusiastically received by American gentlemen.
"At that time, shirts typically had collars (collars) and cuffs that were detachable. Made of linen, these parts were rough to the touch and stiff. In contrast, the Polo Collar Shirt was smooth to the touch. Also, since the collar and cuffs were integrated, they were easier to wash."

Andy Warhol Once Bought 100 Polo Collar Shirts

The shirt was also loved by stylish figures of the era.
"Andy Warhol, with his first paycheck from an advertising job, bought 100 white Polo Collar Shirts in bulk and wore them almost daily. Moreover, Gianni Agnelli, who grew Fiat into a major corporate group, visited the New York store annually and bought these shirts by the dozen."
Gianni Agnelli, known as a legendary dandy of Italy, liked to wear his collar unbuttoned as a stylistic choice.
Other men like Fred Astaire, Clark Gable, Scott Fitzgerald, and Miles Davis also incorporated it into their style.
The Polo Collar Shirt also became popular among students known as Ivyleaguers attending the Ivy League universities in the Northeastern United States.
For busy Ivy Leaguers engaged in studies and sports, there was little time to think about outfits or care for clothes. In this context, the Polo Collar Shirt, made from Oxford fabric that resists losing its shape even after washing, was perfect. With the collar buttoned, it looked cool even without a tie. They continued to wear it even after graduating, and eventually, the Polo Collar Shirt became synonymous with the attire of American elites.
"It was introduced to Japan in 1979. The Brooks Brothers Aoyama main store opened in Tokyo's Aoyama, becoming the brand’s first overseas store."
It was the era when the second and third waves of the Ivy Boom hit during the '70s and '80s, drawing young people dressed in Ivy fashion from all over Japan to the store.
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