Richard Pattison, one of the founding partners at TRC, the highly respected upscale specialty store in Charlotte, NC, has recently announced the tough decision to drop their women’s business. It was not an easy call for the TRC partners, even with their combined 150 years of retail experience.
“We added women’s 16 years ago; it was highly successful with a strong following for many of those years,” insists Pattison. “Then business plateaued. I don’t know if it was pandemic-related or simply that women have so many more shopping options than men. But for whatever reasons, and with menswear business so strong over the past several years, we decided to make the shift.”
According to Pattison, women’s occupied 1800 square feet of the store’s 6000 but was contributing just 20 percent to store volume. That said, he praised the talented sales team for an amazing job for so many years, pointing out that many of Charlotte’s female shoppers are now heartbroken.
Asked what’s accounting for his strong recent menswear business in light of so many pandemic-related challenges, Pattison doesn’t hesitate. “I believe that men are discovering a whole new way to dress, and we’re apparently doing a decent job presenting these new options. It’s all about how to be relevant and dress better without a suit and tie, how to look professional and put-together in a nice sweater jacket and grey flannel or corduroy pants. Of course, everyone still needs a dark suit and dress shoes but it’s now more about the $500-$1000 sneakers, the cut-and-sewn sport shirts and fine knitwear, the overshirts, shirt jackets and laser cut knit sportcoats. Brands like Kiton, Zegna, Brunello Cucinelli, Isaia, Lardini, Baldassari and Gran Sasso are doing a great job bridging the gap between sportswear and tailored clothing.”
Pattison also believes that layering is the key to creating this new look and that it’s up to retailers to educate their customers. “Layering implies that you’ve taken the time to express your style,” says Pattison. “That you’ve put some thought into it. It’s not just for artists and architects but also for certain corporate types. We have so many guys coming into the store these days who tell us they have no idea what to wear. Then they play around with a few layering pieces and suddenly look very put together.”
The former women’s space is now being transformed to a cleaner, lighter look, without heavy cabinetry and with moveable, flexible fixtures. “The idea is to make the store more social, more amenable to events,” says Pattison. “We’re starting with the women’s space but will eventually revamp the entire store.”