Tips from the Tailor

The Future of the Menswear Industry: Retail’s “New Normal”

After nine months of living through the pandemic we all have seen changes to our regular way of life. Masks being “normal”, take out food only, restrictions of gatherings indoors, the list could go on and on. While we are all trying to do what we can to survive in our own little bubble, we know it’s hard to keep track of things outside our typical day to day. As experts in the industry, we wanted to shed some light on what to expect from the future of retail in general, but specifically how it affects the clothing industry and you.

With stay at home orders and regulations varying from state to state it has affected retail in a major way. Big name companies have experienced huge losses as people are encouraged to stay home. This means two things:

  1. First, less people buying due to not wanting to gather indoors
  2. Not needing a regular wardrobe because it has been reduced to pj’s or sweatpants for the “work from home” office

This brings dress casual to a whole new level.

Jos. A Bank, Men’s Wearhouse, Brooks Brothers and other major retail chains have entered into bankruptcy forcing them to close manufacturing plants and over 500 stores as they “restructure” business*. We have seen over the past 25 years brands and stores go through this type of restructure and unfortunately it doesn’t favor the consumer. While the name of the brand or store may continue, the product is never the same. It becomes not about how to serve the consumer best, but how to make up the losses and cover the enormous debts owed.

What does this mean for you? The same pants, suit or shirt you have been accustomed to buying may have the same label, but is made in a discount manufacturer trying to recoup any margin they can. Which translates to cutting quality, but not price. It also means you are probably seeing less and less inventory in stores as they are minimizing what they are offering because they have less room for new styles due to consolidating stock from store closings across the country. 

This is why we feel the resurgence of the small boutique is on the horizon. Those that run their businesses right and were not drowned in debt were able to survive 2020 so they can thrive in 2021. Being more agile as a company is important; it is easier to turn a jet ski or ski boat versus the Titanic. It’s these small businesses to look for in 2021 as they will become the lifeblood of retail in America. While we are looking to move forward in 2021 it won’t come without its fair share of changes in trends throughout the clothing industry.

When things shut down in March of 2020 most retailers returned or canceled the majority of their Spring ’20 inventory leaving the manufacturers to sit on loads of merchandise for a better part of a year. Most manufacturers responded by eliminating almost all of their Fall fashion goods in fear of having that returned or canceled by their retail partners. This leaves bare shelves and racks in stores. We will see a return to basics in the industry as retailers and manufacturers are less likely to step out and gamble on a specific pattern/color not selling thru. So, now is a great time to beef up on the wardrobe basics. 

While some have had the luxury of staying home we have seen a number of our business partners that are essential, busier than ever. As last responders they have been working crazy hours and don’t even have time to eat, much less shop. These businesses have seen an increase in their revenue due an uptick in business and are looking for ways to expense some of those extra profits. Outfitting their staff in a more uniform manner is a great way to brand the most important part of their business, their people. Consider ECE Menswear the boutique menswear store that is on the rise and travels to you, taking it back to another era of the traveling salesman.

Today it is all about convenience, value and service. All of which have helped us to become the “New Normal” when it comes to refueling your wardrobe.

*USA Today: Aug 3, 2020 – Men’s Wearhouse, Jos. A. Bank owner Tailored Brands files Chapter 11 bankruptcy amid store closings.