As the largest suit maker in North America, producing tailored clothing for many of the big designer names, Peerless Clothing was admittedly hard-hit by the pandemic. With so much of the male population working from home and with nationwide restrictions on weddings and other large gatherings, suits were on few shopping lists in 2020.
For this reason, positive comps these past few months have been both unexpected and intoxicating, inspiring much hope among retailers. “Recent sales have been beyond expectation,” confirms Peerless president Dan Orwig. “At first, we thought it would be short-lived, the result of the stimulus, tax refunds, and some vaccine euphoria. But if anything, the velocity is picking up: society, in general, seems ready to get out again. With turnover improving, suit inventory is substantially reduced, which means retailers have opportunity to generate higher AURs.”
Of course, as Orwig confides, improved turn can be problematic if demand exceeds supply. “With a shortfall of inventory, retailers might have to slow downturn. And cost increases are coming. Manufacturers are facing higher prices throughout the supply chain, which is why Peerless is laser-focused on leveraging our scale to secure raw materials. Sourcing is a challenge in India, where they’re still dealing with a health crisis, and in Vietnam, where factories are working at 50 percent capacity. There’s also the tariff situation with China, and challenges in Malaysia. But as an eternal optimist, I believe a global vaccine roll-out will help support many of these countries and we’ll ultimately be able to recover. Peerless also has the advantage of our fabulous factory in Montreal where we produce our better goods and can offset shortfalls elsewhere.”
Orwig is most excited about some big ideas for spring ’22. “We’re focused on continuing to make the suit more comfortable and more adaptable. We’re also looking at expanded business in made-to-measure: our core brands will benefit from a new innovative platform for digital measuring and customization. Key retails on upscale made-to-measure will be between $895 and $1,295.
“Also for spring ’22: the soft launch of a Kenneth Cole sportswear collection and the introduction of hybrid sportswear from TailoRed, including shirt jackets, chore jackets, bombers, and other layering pieces. As lines between sportswear and clothing continue to blur, our designers keep coming up with fabulous hybrid items that offer comfort, style, and versatility. I’m continually impressed by the talent of our amazing Peerless team!”
Orwig is also proud of the close partnerships between Peerless and its retail accounts. “We don’t sell direct-to-consumer; our focus is on supporting our retail partners. Toward that end, we facilitate a huge volume of deliveries out of our state-of-the-art Vermont warehouse to accommodate all the shipping needs of our retail partners.”
Bottom line: Orwig is bullish on a tailored clothing rebound. “There will be a big inventory hole in Q3-Q4, so we’re working closely with our retailer partners to ensure they won’t run out of stock. Prepare for exciting times ahead!”