Trend report: The new suit culture
“I didn’t sell a single suit all last week.”
That’s what I overhead at a department store last month from the menswear salesman. Apparently, no one bought a new suit that week.
Just reading that quote, you’re probably thinking one of two things:
- Can that be true? Can a big department store with luxury items really not move a single men’s suit in a week?
- And what was Ryan doing there in the first place?!
In reference to the first item, I can’t say for sure. Two salespeople were gossiping and I happened to hear the banter. So take that quote with a grain of salt.
And in reference to what I was doing there, well, I happen to have a need to buy underpants from time to time, just like any other guy.
Regardless of the accuracy of this quote, the takeaway is that business wasn’t good on the men’s side for this popular department store.
So then, where are guys buying suits these days? How has suit culture changed in recent years?
And don’t tell me that nobody wears suits anymore, because lots of men still do.
In the years since BE has been in business, we have seen many competitors come and go. Some local, but many national. Some bootstrapped, some VC-funded. I think that the simple existence of so many businesses geared towards offering custom suits is strong evidence for the growing market and the trend.
The simple truth is that men are shopping differently. They don’t want to go to a store.
They want to buy clothes that have a story behind them.
Now, I know what you’re saying, “Of course Ryan would write about this, it’s his business!” And that’s completely true, custom suiting is my business and I have a bias on this subject. However, I encourage you to take a look around and perform an informal survey.
Ask your friends and colleagues where they purchased their suit or shirt. Was it from one of the big national brands? An online provider? Local place?
Regardless of their answer, follow up by asking where they will purchase their next suit or shirt.
I think you’ll begin to paint a picture similar to what I’ve written above and see that there really is a change in our suit culture.
As department stores become more and more quiet in the men’s section, where will you shop? Are you ready to work one-on-one with an expert and build a sartorial relationship? Obviously, we’d be honored if it was with us, but above all else, we want you to look your best. Find someone you trust, choose fabrics based on your instinct, and have fun.
By Ryan Wagner
Thoughts? Did I hit the nail on the head? What’s the suit culture like in your community, or better yet, how have you seen it change over the past 5 – 10 years? Sound off in the comment s below.
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