Traditions are rituals we perform to connect past with present. They’re something we Brooksians like to think we know a bit about…at least as far as our holiday catalog covers are concerned. With the exception of a few rogue years in the ’90s, Brooks Brothers has carried on the tradition of illustrated holiday catalog covers we began in 1933, when we first commissioned equine artist Paul Brown to create a four-horse open sleigh scene.
From left: (1) The cover of our first Paul Brown illustrated catalog cover, commissioned by Brooks Brothers on October 13, 1933. (2) Our 1945 Christmas catalog cover by Brown, featuring a serviceman returning home from war. The dogs portrayed in Brown’s illustrations, such as this one, were often the pets of Brooks executives. (3) Like Brown’s first holiday catalog cover, Tran Mawicke’s inaugural 1959 cover also featured an open-sleigh scene.
Famous for his polo scenes as well as his children’s books (Brown defined horsiness for generations of girls with his illustrations for both Black Beauty and National Velvet, Brown created illustrations of carolers caroling, drummers drumming, and, as often as possible, horses a-leaping that graced our holiday covers and everyday advertisements for more than 20 years, until his death in 1958. Upon his passing, company executive C. P. Snow remarked, “Christmas scenes done in Paul’s inimitable style were to become indelibly associated with Brooks Brothers,” which may explain why we still reach for them when choosing the covers of our holiday catalogs today.
Brooks Brothers has carried on the tradition of illustrated holiday catalog covers we began in 1933.
From 1959 to 1988, illustrator Tran Mawicke took on the wearing of our holiday mantle. Before his retirement in 1988, Mawicke produced more than 135 holiday-themed drawings and paintings, all of which still reside in our company archives. Mawicke’s specialty was nineteenth-century scenes he’d tirelessly research in libraries “from here to Boston,” as we quaintly put it in a 1959 company newsletter. “Here,” of course, being 346 Madison Avenue, the home where we’ve spent our holidays for the past 100 years. Like our annual tradition of choosing an illustration for the cover of our holiday catalog, it’s a tradition we expect to continue for many years to come.