FROM OUR FEBRUARY ISSUE: NAVIGATING ROUGH WATERS
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How are tailored clothing vendors looking at the current state of the category? Here we catch up with seven leading brands.
James Shay, Isaia
This past fall/holiday season saw a return to super luxe fabrications. Patterned sportcoats and shirt jackets in vicuña blends and luxurious cashmeres were clear drivers this season. Going into fall 2023, the emphasis will be on novelty fabrics in classic silhouettes. Occasion and evening dressing continues to be a focus. The lines between sartorial and sport continue to blur with a focus on elevating the lifestyle.
Although supply remains challenging, we control a large portion of ours for production. That said, deliveries are still trailing a month or so behind pre-pan- demic. The solution is simple: deliver the product a little later and come closer to the weather patterns for seasonal goods. That, or convince buyers to place orders even earlier, which is not easy.
The vendor-retailer relationship can be strengthened by partnering together to execute better training for associates, ensuring they are optimally equipped to service their customers.
Jack Banafsheha, Zanetti
The clothing business had a nice uptick these past two years but seems to be facing some headwinds with today’s inflation and economic uncertainty. We sold into some great stores and had a good year in 2021, an even better one in 2022.
Our business is segmented into three levels: Black Label is the most upscale, still made in Italy but it’s now softer, less structured clothing, not classic sartorial. Zanetti Blue is a lifestyle collection of nice modern suitings and outerwear, also shirt, ties and sportswear. Our ZNT division is opening price young/contemporary—under $200 retails for great-looking suits (7-inch drop) and sportcoats built with comfort and stretch. I believe the growth is in this segment; it offers notably better value than the comparably priced competition.
Yes, the supply chain situation is problematic. We’re in uncharted waters still, although this year will surely be better than last, when delivering a single container jumped from $3,000 to $36,000. But the situation is improving: our costs have come down from both China and Italy. The trick is to work with suppliers you know and trust.
Tony Maddox, Coppley Apparel
Fall 2022 was tough: In August we got hacked, company-wide, and we were unable to cut for four weeks. Fortunately, stores worked with us on extended delivery dates and we made those. Our goal is to be back to our normal delivery cycle by February.
My advice to retailers: Make custom a daily part of your business rather than waiting for special events. Give your staff the knowledge and training to execute, even if it involves taking some risks.
Andrea Benedini, Lubiam/Luigi Bianchi
Luigi Bianchi has become a total lifestyle collection; clients are buying pieces from different product categories, thereby offering numerous combinations. Our most exciting new category for fall features travel coats and blazers in weather-resistant fabrics. Such pieces often come with a removable faux vest for extra layering, a solution that’s both practical and fashionable.
As for supply chain, we faced unexpected delays from the Italian fabric mills, which led to challenges planning production. To prevent this from happening again, we bought all our fabric many months in advance to cover the new season’s production. While challenges remain, this investment has helped our business tremendously.
Nelson Suriel, Jack Victor
I believe that just about every store that carries tailored clothing today is doing well. We’re in a mode where the consumer is dressing up again, for events, for the office, for just going out.
We expanded our evening wear presentation in anticipation of continued formal events. In addition to classic tuxedos, our dinner jackets have been a home run. Colorful velvets—greens, blues, burgundy—offered in both peak and shawl collar have been well received. They’re in a lush cotton/stretch fabric and retail for $798. We also stock a beautiful navy paisley peak lapel along with an off-white shawl collar dinner jacket, which is flying off the shelves.
Outside of formalwear, we created a 100 percent cashmere knit sportcoat (fabric from Loro Piana) that we offered in a light blue and a pearl gray. These are retailing extremely well. The fabric is so luxurious and light that it feels like you’re wearing a cashmere sweater.
Aliya Morehead, Samuelsohn
Our best sellers this fall/holiday ’22 season were key item jackets. This category includes 14-micron doeskin, soft city tweeds, wool/ cashmere corduroy, and luxe velvets in jewel tones. Rich colors and textures are proving more important than patterns this fall/holiday season. These looks will be refreshed and updated for fall 2023.
Most exciting for fall, we’ve designed a collection of 12 iconic items to commem- orate our 100-year anniversary. Each item represents the fusion of heritage and modern style that defines everything by Samuelsohn. It’s a special, timeless collection, and the reaction from retailers has been exceptional. The men’s clothing business is certainly thriving; it seems everyone is doing well. I believe relationships and customer service are key to this success.
Alan Levine, Trinity Clothing
Our best sellers for fall ’22 included our new custom outerwear realized in special fabrications like microsuede. A big hit was the new fashion field jacket. Also, we found customers wanted to dress up for holiday events: velvets in rich colors sold well.
Since our business is all custom, the upcoming show season will feature spring ’23 styles, not fall. We’re really excited about our Cool Wool collections and our textured naturals, fabrics that blend bamboo, linen, silk and wool.
We’ve found that stores offering custom are doing extremely well, allowing guys to personalize their look. Options include custom linings, Mila- nese buttonholes, colorful undercollars, colored storm tabs, elbow patches and more, all of which add value to the suit, and distinction to the man.
As for the supply chain situation, the answer is diversification. We invested in multiple production factories in two geographically different locations. This meant minimal delays for customers receiving their clothing. We also diversified our fabric purchases to mills around the world. When one mill had shutdowns, we were able to offer alternatives.
Our best advice to retailers: make sure you’re important to your suppliers.