by Steve Pruitt

Q: When the pandemic started the fashion demand completely changed from what I would call a slow evolution of classic fashion to a much more casual feel. I never thought my customers would wear knit pants! As we move forward what do you expect to happen as far as fashion trends for men’s stores?

Steve Pruitt: You’re correct –fashion as we knew it has been turned on its head. Our research shows that the balance of sales between clothing and sportswear has changed dramatically – about a 20 percent shift. Let’s keep in mind, this shift started before the pandemic, but then it accelerated dramatically.

That said, we are already starting to see an acceleration in sales back to what we might call “normal”; more like the trends we saw in 2019. Clothing is starting to sell again, both in the suit and sportcoat categories, as well as in dress pants. However, sportswear is not slowing. The customer seems to want both.

How long the demand for both dressy and casual will last is the real question. We are adjusting our plans as results come in from our client stores. Our guidance remains focused on keeping our inventory plans tight. With COVID cases now increasing in some areas, it’s difficult to say what will happen.

Here are a couple of thoughts.

1.     When we think about sport shirt and dress shirt performance, we are combining the two categories together to focus on shirts.

2.     With dress pants and casual pants, we are also combining the categories to understand our pant performance.

This allows us to step back and see a wider trend landscape. While we still don’t know what the outcome will be, my suggestion is to be prepared for change. This is not over yet.

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