Welcome to The Ivy League Look

This blog presents a historical view through articles, photographs, reminiscences, and advertisements, of an American style of men's fashion of the mid-20th century known as "The Ivy League Look" or "The Ivy Look."

This blog will not present modern-day iterations of this "look"; it will be shown in its original context as an American style worn during this specific era. Author commentary will be kept to a minimum.

This is not a commercial site and links to commercial sites will not be posted.

December 2, 2009

Browning King, "The Prep School Style", 1931

(click to enlarge*)

"To Harvard, Yale and Princeton men, Browning, King & Co. means college clothes." - Time magazine, 5/21/34

*Image from the Milwaukee Journal - 3/27/31


OldSchool said...

May 21, 1934

To Harvard, Yale and Princeton men, Browning, King & Co. means college clothes. To railroad conductors, bell hops and steamship officers, Browning, King means uniforms. The 112-year-old clothing firm virtually outfitted the gold rush of '49. John Hazard Browning, descendant of a Rhode Island settler who bought a "dwelling house and two lots of acres . . . for £3 in wampum" had been in the clothing business 27 years when news of gold at Suiter's Mill burst upon New York. He packed clipper ships with pants and coats as fast as they could be sewed together, sent them around the Horn to be traded for gold nuggets on the Coast.

John Hazard Browning's sons were not sorry when the Civil War came. They wangled a huge contract for soldiers' uniforms out of the Federal Government. After Appomattox they might have gone bankrupt had not a man named Henry W. King joined the firm. War had ruined their southern business, so Henry W. King opened a store in Chicago. It made so much money that the Brownings were glad to add his name to their corporate title, open other stores in the West. Browning, King had a chain of haberdasheries while the late James Butler, founder of the first grocery chain, was still a farm hand in Kilkenny.

The Spanish-American War brought Browning, King contracts to outfit the entire Navy. The founder's youngest son, John Hull Browning, branched out into banking and railroads in New Jersey, was four times a Presidential elector. He died of apoplexy in the Erie Railroad ferry house in 1914, shortly before Browning, King began making khaki for the A. E. F. Another son, Edward Franklin Browning, was the father of Edward West ("Daddy") Browning, whose carryings-on with "Peaches" Heenan Browning made front page news in 1927. Before Depression Browning, King, whose stock is privately owned, had 31 stores and five Brownings, paid sizeable annual dividends. By last year there were 24 stores and two Brownings but the old firm had fallen upon evil days. Last week Browning, King toppled into bankruptcy.

Since Depression competition from Wallach's ($25 to $50), John David ($24.50 to $75), Weber & Heilbroner ($30 to $75) and Rogers Peet ($45 to $90) had been too much for Browning, King. President William Hull Browning, whose estate at Rye, N. Y. is filled with exotic birds, had grown less and less active. There were no Kings left in the firm. Two years ago President Browning started to put his company into receivership, listing himself as a $486,000 creditor. The court granted a stay. Mr. Browning moved up to the board chairmanship, put Vice President Edward C. Koempel in as president. But business did not improve and President Koempel was unable to work off his load of debts. With insufficient capital, with merchandise, rent and realty liabilities of approximately $500,000, Browning, King was last week turned over to Irving Trust Co., Federal receiver for the southern district of New York (TIME, April 2).

Richard M said...

OldSchool: What a fantastic post! Thank you, sir!