by Karen Alberg Grossman

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.

Brunello Cucinelli

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!)


  1. thank you KAREN ,ITS ALL ABOUT NEWNESS AND ITEMS ,we as retailers just have to open up to what the best of what the market has to offer ,and believe when i say NEWNESS IS THERE SURPRIZE YOUR CUSTOMERS , and give your sales team lots of newness to discuss with your customers . !!!!!!!!!!! BRAVO !!!!!! LETS GET IT DONE !!!!!!!!

  2. It’s all about the merchandise mix from one season to another. Know and educate your customer base.

    1. Change is happening whether you adapt or not. There is no going back on assortment planning. The new normal will not be the same as the old normal.

  3. 50 years of reading the tea leaves, deploying caution and assertion as needed and WHEN needed, did not prepare me for the uncertainty if everything herein 2021. Business right now is strong, with sportswear doing great – – – – and suits are getting significant increases too…The problem is that this Delta variant is hitting people that have been vaccinated. Masks are almost certain to come back. Mandated, no less. Confidence in general is not assured.

    We have been careful and controlled. We are in the remarkable position of being prepared and open to do what has to be done, merchandise-wise. It’s a great feeling, going into market in this position, at the only show that really matters. Seeking newness, seeing continuity of excellent brands, new items….look, the things I bought for spring that I considered to be “riskier” all quickly disappeared and had to be reordered. There IS demand, right now. June and July have been awesome. What a relief! VERY interesting times.

  4. Karen! It’s good to see the men’s wear market’s opening once again, seeing the new brands and the fashionable looks for the upcoming seasons make me wish I was still in the market. Keep the shows going.

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