by Karen Alberg Grossman

The entire MR team is proud to present our February 2023 print edition. Haven’t gotten your copy, yet? Feel free to page through a digital copy at Issuu, and we’ll continue to post the individual stories on If you haven’t been getting MR in print, be sure that you are on our mailing list for future issues by completing this form.

Here we caught up with Belk GVP Selena Hanks to gain her perspective on the current state of tailored clothing at the department store. 

How’s tailored clothing business?

The momentum has been building for about 18 months and we’ve seen no slowdown yet. Our suit separates programs are key drivers. Just being in stock on core programs led to healthy gains. Customers are willing to pay more for this category and business is back at pre-COVID levels.

Top performers for the season: our exclusive labels in suit separates, seasonal sportcoats, and Lauren tailored clothing. A resurgence in occasion dressing, whether weddings or other milestone events, added a lift in sales. We’re seeing double-digit gains in formalwear and in seasonal sportcoats.

Another element to the dress-up resurgence: dress shirts are particularly strong; even neckwear has seen a lift.

How did supply chain problems impact your business?

Supply chain issues had a significant impact in spring ’22, especially Q1. Some of the issues stretched into early Q3, but for the most part, they’re behind us.

COVID has taught us how nimble we must be. Our team, led by our talented buyer Bill Cowan, learned how to manage a business when it’s not entirely in your control. I’m very proud of how well they’ve weathered the storm.

Now we’re working earlier with key vendors, placing orders up front on seasonal buys, and providing replenishment projections so our vendor partners can stay ahead of the curve. We’re also holding dollars back to seek out newness, which is more important than ever. Today’s customer wants new.

What kind of advertising or events are working best for Belks?

Outside of some targeted weekly events, we’ve not really had to promote or do anything special to drive sales. Because of strong demand, we’re seeing AUR increases. As we move into 2023, we’ll try new ideas to keep the momentum going, to interact and engage more with customers.

What have you seen for fall ’23 that excites you?

Our fall 2023 vendor matrix will have more change than we’ve had in several seasons. We feel great about fall seasonal product, which will add
excitement and newness to the floor. We’re adding several new brands with a different point of view; we’re also dropping a few.

What we’ll need from our vendors is clear lines between brands and less duplication. This will help us maximize sales and inventory based on what the customer is looking for.

What are the biggest challenges you now face?

1) We cannot miss Easter again. Supply chain challenges we hope are, for the most part, over and done. We know there will be exceptions, but overall, we have to land the plane on Q1 this year.

2) We need to ride this wave of dress-up with the understanding that it won’t last forever. We think it will continue through 2023, but at some point, the trend will level out. Projecting when that will occur is a bit of a guess, but we will be nimble and adjust as change happens.

Your crystal ball on tailored clothing?

There will always be a need for dressing up, but it might not be the traditional suit. I think guys today default to a suit because it’s easier to understand. Getting them back into sportcoats and showing them new combinations will be key to sustaining growth.