“There was a time when headpieces for bridesmaids represented millions in revenue for manufacturers and retailers. Bridal magazine editors decided that they didn’t like showing bridesmaid headpieces. No one controlled them. No one forced them to do what they didn’t want to do. Web sites and bloggers followed the information promoted by the print “experts.” Bridesmaid headpiece sales declined year after year after year. If you walk through NY Market this season, you’ll be hard pressed to find a single bridesmaid headpiece — not even one.
Seven years ago, almost every bride who wore a bridal gown also wore a headpiece or veil. The number has dropped to below 80% today. It isn’t just that Brides Magazine isn’t showing veils and headpieces, web sites and bloggers follow their lead. Sales are declining every year and will continue to decline without advice from someone.
Magazines,web sites, and bloggers all agree that you no longer have to wear a tuxedo if your bride is wearing a formal gown. Manufacturers and rental specialists exacerbate the problem with their own brand of stupidity. Eventually, rental tuxedos will be almost extinct,” according to Duhe.
The news is alarming to small business owners who rely on tuxedo rentals to sustain their families. Many say they’ve spent a lifetime to grow their business and service their market. But since the end of American manufacturing companies like after six and Lord West and ongoing consolidation and production shift to China and the growth of big box operators like Men’s Wearhouse, independent stores who still make up a significant part of the market, struggle to survive.
Traditional tuxedo users are finding the best stores in their area who update merchandise annually, provide excellent fittings and are able to quickly correct out-of-town measurements in a single visit. It’s doubtful whether the same customer will be able to fit themselves, have their event outfit arrive in a box and be satisfied with the results of online suppliers.
Duhe, an avid supporter of tuxedo rentals, feels the lack of advertising also affects the decline of editorial support by all media sources. Others who support the idea are members of the Wedding Water Cooler group, including Sheryl Davies who has helped plan weddings in the Canadian market for years. Recent discussions with Davies said the changes taking place in wedding planning shows a more relaxed approach, away from formality and towards a more casual set of rules, including the use of tuxedos.
The next wave of competition for renting tuxedos, including to Men’s Wearhouse who capture over 40% of brick and mortar rentals, is felt to come from online rentals, trying to deliver garments to the groom and his men in time for their wedding. Some online suppliers feel they’ll be able to sidestep the logistical challenges by delivering products way in advance, allowing end-users to have corrections made locally– through independently owned stores they’re competing with– in reality. The idea sounds good on paper but remains to be seen if it will actually work, especially among a more mature market who still support traditional weddings and black tie affairs.
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