By Paul Pannone
eWedNewz is watching a developing story with conflicting information to a recent resurgence of the men’s formal wear business. Tuxedo rentals have been in decline for over a decade and saw the closure of several founding companies including After Six.
When a customer walks into a tuxedo rental store they don’t know how old the garment is.
The original After Six company founded in 1902 made tuxedos in Philadelphia until it went out of business in 1993. The name bounced around the industry for decades after the original company closed and was even owned by the Allstate Insurance company (after Six 2 Baltimore 1994-1996) and the Sequa corporation (After Six 3 1996-2009), among other short-term ownership. What remains are products created years ago that still appear on many websites and showrooms across America, tainting the use of rented tuxedo.
According to IBISWorld spending is supposed to increase in various parts of wedding planning industries but the tuxedo business is expected to shrink in the next five-years.
51% of an ongoing poll so-far says the tuxedo rental industry is set for a comeback. Together with 26% who say the rental business is holding steady giving a 76% positive rating as opposed to 13% of respondents who feel the tuxedo rental business is dying; 3% say it’s already dead, giving a 16% negative view. 7% say they’re not sure.
Recent blogs by long-time wedding and event planners say the tuxedo business is due for a comeback, ready to service a new generation of users following young role model entertainers adorning the updated threads.
Forces opposing the comeback includes fragmentation in the tuxedo rental business. Lagging behind in technology, presentation in stores and online. Word of suspect products that have been around for decades is reaching the consumer who are cautious and more aware about what they’re wearing. Internet searches for new items find updated styles by Vera Wang and Tony Bowls. New fit and softer fabrics attract new users who are willing to spend upwards of $200 dollars to rent the latest designs. Yet the traditional part of the tuxedo rental business remains stuck in price-wars fighting one another with old merchandise, old ideas and a very arrogant attitude.
Currently there are at least four recognized organizations in the tuxedo business: IFA, SIFA, Tuxedo Junction and SAVVI, each with their own membership, views and approach on marketing. A visit with some of the spokespeople in each of the organizations this week admitted personality conflicts and differences of opinion.
“That’s why there are so many different organizations in the business. There are some very strong personalities with prideful views who aren’t willing to work together,” said one member of the IFA, the original formal wear organization.
Quietly, each organization said they were formed to encourage manufacturers. In reality groups were formed to beat up manufacturers on price and getting them to sponsor outdated, unnecessary trade shows and offset marketing/advertising expenses. Equally as quiet all groups say they’re focused on trying to keep pace with their biggest competitor.
Men’s Wearhouse hit a homerun with Vera Wang this season. A new arrangement brings the Calvin Klein brand exclusively to Men’s Wearhouse next year, after the tuxedo business did not (or could not) support the brand. eWedNewz watches as more announcements are made that can help the business– if retailers realize the power of new, branded products are what customers are looking for– and don’t mind paying for them.
As far as IBISWorld data, eWedNewz got the company to re-visit flawed data given by the research firm to TheStreet.com that said Men’s Wearhouse rented one out of two tuxedos in the United States at the time of the story release in May, 2011.
What do you think? Are tuxedo rentals back? Were they ever gone? Or are they ready to be buried?
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