Among the more interesting findings of our retail survey in this issue, it seems independent menswear retailers have opposing opinions on just about everything. The big question, of course, is whether or not guys are ready to give up their work-from-home ‘comfort’ wardrobes in favor of dress-up or elevated casual looks (e.g. these spring ‘22 styles from Baldassari and Brunello Cucinelli). Since no one really knows (about two-thirds of our respondents are downsizing tailored clothing while a third are notably increasing it!), most merchants are hedging their bets, making few changes in assortments at a time when newness is so badly needed.
DLS founder Fred Derring tells of a recent visit to one of his member stores. The selling floor looked very much like it did when he last visited years ago, with no active/leisure/comfort wear in sight. When asked about this, the merchant noted that he’d sold out of several comfort items from his go-to brand but had not reached out to other brands to expand his assortment.
I realize that in these unprecedented times, caution might seem a wise strategy. But I wish more retailers would understand the power they have to influence customer purchasing with new brands, new categories, exciting presentations, social media posts and videos, well-dressed sales associates, personal phone calls, custom magazines, lookbooks, etc. For when it comes to clothes, few guys know what they want until you tell them what they should be wearing. While unlikely to venture too far from their comfort zones, guys will try new looks if you show them, wear them, and enthusiastically endorse them.
From all of us at MR, we can’t wait to see you at the summer shows. How we’ve missed seeing and touching beautiful new product! (And how we’ve missed the hugs from our longtime industry friends!)