My brother Morris “Bryan” Beecroft, III, or “Bee”, as he preferred to be called during his reinvention, recently lost his year-long battle with lung cancer, complicated by pneumonia. He was just 62.
During the ‘80s and ‘90s, when the Fearsome Foursome (Moss, Frances, Bryan, and myself) would terrorize showrooms across Midtown Manhattan, Bryan was our self-proclaimed Leader whose light burned brightest. My mother would often dispute this claim, which led to our legendary “disagreements” at the buying table. While this played out, dad and I would sit frozen in our chairs or cower in the corners waiting for the storms to blow over, and they always did. This has been written before but deserves to be repeated: that in recognition of our “passion,” MR once awarded us “Most Dysfunctional Family” in the industry. They were right (and wrong), but it’s still a source of pride for me. We were anything but boring.
Like most siblings growing up, we scrapped and clawed at each other, but Bee became someone I really looked up to. While still in high school, I couldn’t wait to visit my big brother at Hampden-Sydney College, and when I went off to UVA, I would drag my fraternity brothers there to meet and hang with him. At one point, he took a year off to follow one of his dreams…to be a race car driver. At the Jim Russell Racing School in Mont-Tremblant Canada, he excelled and won several races.
Unlike me, who was called to duty by my father out of pure desperation while I was being a ski bum in Aspen, Bryan always knew he would join Beecroft & Bull. At Hampden-Sydney, called “The Preppiest College in America” by The Preppy Handbook, he developed his own unique style that he would bring to the company. He cut his teeth in the industry by working the east coast in a Winnebago as a traveling salesman, repping lines like Dooney & Burke and Pringle of Scotland.
In his prime, Bryan was “The Man!” He was a good-looking dude and CEO of a growing business with national recognition. He was named “Best Dressed” by the industry in the same issue as our “Most Dysfunctional Family” designation. On top of that, he was a great golfer and successful triathlete. Bryan magnified all of the best traits of our family and business: high taste level, creative, passionate, competitive, ambitious, fearless, and personable. When our parents retired, we were a great team for many years, with complementary strengths. Together, we took our business to the next level. The partnership ended following a tough stretch of time, and he left for the warmer climes of Florida to regroup and rekindle his passions. He played some competitive golf, biked tirelessly, and got in great shape again, but his creativity lay dormant…until he unlocked another dream: designing his own brand.
Years ago, when asked to describe Beecroft & Bull’s style in just a few words, out popped “Preppies on Acid.” This befuddled our father and others who struggled to comprehend such a radical description, but I knew exactly what he meant: a style based on classic dress, but with a definite edge. He brought this concept to his shoe brand of the same name. He sourced the most interesting leathers, traveled to England, hired the same small shop that produces Trickers of London, and presented a collection like none other on the market. I was so proud of him. He was a “one-man-band” and did his best to launch his unique brand in the middle of the sneaker revolution. And then of course COVID-19 hit, limiting his audience to a small but loyal group of fans who “got it.”
Even as he lay sick in bed struggling to breathe, Bee was busy retooling “Preppies on Acid,” creating new designs that included a racing shoe. He even researched factories in South America to make the price more accessible. He never got the chance to see this through. Bee always gave everything he had in the tank and fought to the very end. My brother inspired many, but none more than me. His courage will always serve as an inspiration to me and my team as we move forward through the madness, in this business that we all love.
Bryan’s industry colleagues are greatly saddened by his passing. Glenn Taylor from TRC knew him from Threadwize meetings, from local southern markets, from occasional rounds of golf and fun dinners. “Clearly, he had a talent for expressing his style through his personal dress and through his store’s merchandise mix while he was there. He had a very defined way of taking classical basics and bending them, by use of fashion nuance, to create a style of his own. In this same way, he was able to create for Beecroft & Bull a look that distinguished his store from others carrying similar brands. His shoe brand was an excellent example of that bending. He was a lover of clothes, of fast cars, and of design in all things. I will miss his creativity and eccentricities.”
Doug Duckworth from Pockets in Dallas said Bee was “one of a kind. We called each other frequently and our calls could evolve from a question about a shoe order to the precarious state of retail to his car racing escapades. In this way, a three-minute call could turn into a half-hour! He often reminded me that I was his first appointment at The Park Lane Hotel. He will be greatly missed.”
Bruce Liles from Liles Clothing Studio in Raleigh called Bee Beecroft “a force of nature. Born to a legacy retailing family, he nonetheless forged his own path, designing to the end when most mortal souls would be quietly resting. His signature line, Preppies on Acid, envisioned a patrician style through a lens of altered perception. That perception occurred naturally through his creative imagination. His almost manic energy concealed a kind and caring heart and an artistic drive. He was singularly proud of having once been named the best-dressed man in our industry.
Salut, my friend, and may you convince the angels to be a little more dapper!”