FROM OUR FEBRUARY ISSUE: PEERLESS PRESIDENT DAN ORWIG ON THE FUTURE OF SUITS
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First, sincere condolences on the recent passing of Peerless founder Alvin Segal. How will this loss affect business at Peerless, and you personally?
It certainly is a huge loss for our company, and for the industry. Mr. Segal loved both, but most importantly, he loved his team. I had the honor of working for him both indirectly and directly for 20 years. During my tenure, I’d often hear him tell our executive team how proud and happy he was to have this competent and cohesive group running his company. He had the foresight and confidence to allow his team to do their jobs and drive the business. That’s the type of leader he was: a man with the vision to set up his team to carry on his legacy. And that’s what we’ll continue to do.
Reflecting on the last two years, I personally learned so much from Mr. Segal and will continue to be guided by his principles and values. He was a fearless leader, always willing to try new things to evolve the company. He still motivates me every day to never look back, only ahead, and to never be complacent. I’m excited to see what this amazing team can do in the years to come.
How did business turn out for fall/winter ’22? What are your projections for 2023?
The Fall ’22 season has been very strong, anchored by core. Fortunately, it seems that all retailers had success in tailored and dress clothing. We were able to support our retail partners over the last six months by getting back to optimal inventory levels on core programs. Although we didn’t have all our fall fashion available as early as we may have wanted, there was an amazing reaction once the new product hit the floors. ‘Fashion’ included patterned sport coats in rich color combinations, green and burgundy suits, pants with neat textured patterns, and bolder plaids. We also saw a demand for show-stopping high-fashion formalwear. We’re in a good position to help our retail partners maximize sales with the right mix of fashion and core going into 2023. In our opinion, the optimum ratio of core to fashion is somewhere close to 65/35. As we move further into 2023, we’ll continue to monitor the market and consumer behavior. We believe the market is still fragile due to inflation pressure and the looming recession. However, we’re confident that we can maximize opportunities in 2023 by driving core and continuing to focus on and evolve our fashion offering.
Supply chain challenges have not gone away. We’re still dealing with COVID cases, absenteeism, and the restrictions on Chinese cotton. Our merchandise, sourcing, and production teams did an amazing job getting ahead of the global supply challenges for Spring ’23. We’ve frontloaded our spring fashion and we expect to be able to offer our retail partners a very fresh and exciting early floor set. We’re optimistic that these fresh new looks combined with the continued strength of occasion dressing will lead to strong, positive results.
To what extent has the precarious supply chain situation affected pricing?
AURs are holding, but we’ve seen slightly more promotional activity across the board, which is what we had expected. Of course, there are still concerns about consumer confidence and discretionary spending in the months ahead.
So are you planning price increases?
We’re doing everything we can to hold prices from SP23 to F23. Some aspects of the cost of goods have decreased while others have increased. Interest rates are one of the biggest factors as we maintain our inventory levels to support the demands of our customers.
What are your thoughts on proper inventory levels?
It’s certainly a balancing act to weigh the optimism generated by strong clothing sales against the headwinds in the economy. We continue to take a cautiously optimistic approach. I consider myself an optimistic person but when it comes to inventory, I use a much more realistic mindset. We like to plan for 80% and chase 20%. We understand the supply chain and how quickly we can and cannot react. The beauty of our model is that we can keep our production cycle fluid from the raw materials through to the finished inventory. The pipeline can be pushed and pulled as needed, thanks to our supply chain partners who are some of the best in the world.
To what do you attribute your longevity as still the number one suitmaker in North America?
Mr. Segal always put the customer first and we continue to live by that customer-focused mindset. Every day, we look for new ways to improve our support to our retail partners. Certainly, all credit goes to our incredibly talented teams. In NYC, it’s our professional face-to-face sales team and our highly talented merchandising, marketing, and product development teams. In Montreal, we have our ENGINE, and all the devoted teams making everything happen behind the scenes. In our Vermont warehouse, it’s our passionate employees who feel completely accountable for pleasing our retail partners. All three locations are interdependent, each with a clear role, all in sync with one another. Once the Peerless wheel starts turning, it’s hard to stop it. It’s amazing to watch and be part of. That said, we are never satisfied; we’re always looking for ways to improve.
What is the right fashion direction for fall 2023?
That’s a loaded question. Fashion is subjective and personal to individuals and stores. We’ve seen a great response to our new corduroy sport coats, high shades of velvet, and soft plaids and flannels in fashion separates. We like the wider peak lapels and the double-breasted models. Yes, DBs! Everything is softer and more relaxed but still a suit. Men continue to look for fashion and are definitely dressing up more. As a company and as an industry, we must continue to educate the male consumer on different ways to wear the product. We can make the same suit look very sophisticated and then show it in a casual, more playful way. There’s plenty of versatility, which guys respond to if presented correctly. For most men, it’s always easiest to just throw on a suit, but it’s the styling and layering that can open their eyes to a new way of dressing. And excitement about new ways of dressing is what drives additional sales.
3 Replies to “FROM OUR FEBRUARY ISSUE: PEERLESS PRESIDENT DAN ORWIG ON THE FUTURE OF SUITS”
Double the Breast … Double the Fun!
I’m sure Alvin Segal would be proud of
you and your vision.
I am sure Mr Alvin Segal would be proud of you and your vision.
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