by Karen Alberg Grossman

Most of us in the industry for some time have learned a few truths about designing, manufacturing and retailing menswear. The process has numerous components. When they all click, it’s great! Bingo! BUT…

Salesmen don’t always have the right tools and buyers don’t always make the best decisions.

Vendors try to keep their customers in mind but, well, that doesn’t always work out.

Below is an essay by a menswear designer, shared so you can walk in these shoes.

So stay or go? Let us know what you think.

Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay*

*This is the title of a book on marriage/divorce.

Just as it says, it provides questions to help guide one through this decision.

But what if the decision is not about marriage but rather about one’s chosen profession?

I admire people who have the confidence to switch careers.

I’ve always worked at the same thing, for many years on my own.

That’s the part that I question.
Research, design – love it. All the rest? Not so much.

My stress level these days is off the charts. Why?
Specs that are not followed= clothing that does not fit= returns= loss.
Minimums per size that I cannot reach = inventory = no profit.
Surcharges for under minimum = loss.
Late deliveries = cancellations=… You get the drift.

There is no end to the fees: shipping, duty, tariffs,…

2x the price for sample yarn, sample fabric, sample garments.

And no way to recover,

Especially when the sample garments miss the shows.

I never allocate enough to cover all this in the wholesale price = no cash flow.
I have to add money every year.

My customers? The nicest!
But there are some
Who don’t pay on time, and some
Who don’t pay at all.

So this brings me to this decision:
Should I stay or should I go?

The definition of insanity: doing the same thing repeatedly

And expecting a different result. That’s me.

This fall, we had countless refused orders due to late deliveries.
I don’t blame the retailers:
They want what they want when they want it.

It’s my job to fulfill their wishes.

But sometimes, I’m at the mercy of the factories. (Actually, all times!)
I guess I should have canceled…but as the eternal optimist,
I thought my retail friends would accept late shipments.
I was wrong.
So here I am: cash poor, with lots of inventory
And an important decision to make:

Should I stay or should I go?

Lead image by Sean Benesh.