I read an article recently about Wolsey clothing ( www.wolsey.com ) that mentioned the company was established in 1755. At 258 years old (as at the time of writing) that's quite impressive, and positions Wolsey to be the ultimate Classic English brand. Or does it?
A quick investigation reveals Wolsey are spring-chickens compared to a few others. There are a few other well-established English brands: Kent brushes ( www.kentbrushes.com ) was established in 1777, for example. According to Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oldest_companies ) the oldest company from any country is Kongō Gumi from Japan, established in 578 A.D. That's right, 1,435 years ago! The oldest English entry is The Bingley Arms, established relatively recently in 953 A.D, or 1,060 years ago.
But these are companies or hotels/restaurants, not widely-known consumer brands. It's an unclear distinction I admit, open to interpretation and revision. I also can't comment on this for countries other than England.
For England I would argue that the oldest consumer brand is Cambridge University Press, established 1534 A.D, or a still-impressive 479 years ago. What do you think?