Quarantine style

by Karen Alberg Grossman

MR asked readers to nominate industry execs with fabulous style while quarantined at home. Our advisory board voted on three winners and 12 runners-up. Here, the top three talk about what they’re wearing to work-at-home these days, and how the business is changing.

ERIC JENNINGS

VICE PRESIDENT AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR, PEERLESS CLOTHING

I’m wearing a TailoRed cotton/linen half-lined soft constructed three open patch pocket jacket. Under the coat, it’s an Eleventy cotton Johnny-collar retro polo shirt and five-pocket cotton jeans. On my feet, I’m wearing On Swiss-engineered sneakers, and on my wrist–a Shinola watch.

As we work from home more and more going forward, men’s clothing will continue to shift towards comfort, performance, and functionality. Washability will become more important—even in tailored clothing—as we seek to keep our clothes clean and virus-free when stepping into our homes from the outside world. I see face masks continuing as the “must-have” accessory for the world, whether we’re dressing up or down.

Keeping tailored clothing business afloat during this very tough time is all about adapting and innovating on all levels—whether it’s incorporating new technology to help sell digitally, or discovering new cutting-edge fabrics to provide more performance features in our garments. As Gloria Gaynor once sang, “I Will Survive,” and so too will the men’s clothing industry! Companies that create and innovate will make changes that they should have made years ago. And those that are nimble and adaptable will come out of this pandemic even better than before.

Personally, I’ve created a whole new morning routine to help keep me level-headed and focused every day. It includes a bit of meditation, breathwork, tapping, journaling, and then some exercise. It takes about an hour to an hour and a half, after which I feel incredible! I believe I’ve been more creative in the last several months than I’ve ever been.


ERIK WILKINSON (AND DAISY)

CHIEF SALES OFFICER, ETON

I’m wearing an Isaia navy blazer, Eton white hidden button-down shirt, Neuw jeans, and Tod’s suede shoes. Dark navy and white always look great together on camera; the hidden button-down looks sharp without a tie. Getting properly dressed in the morning is kind of like making your bed: if you start off each day productively, it spills into everything else you do. My special assistant in the photo is Daisy, our 2 ½-year-old Goldendoodle. She keeps me company during hours of video calls (and sometimes joins in as a welcome distraction).

Right now (and for the foreseeable future), dressing is all about the torso since most of our time is spent on video calls. I saw an immediate casualization from the get-go (e.g. workout clothes, polos, etc.), but now, folks are dressing up a bit more, perhaps to find some feeling of “pre-pandemic normal.” There’s no doubt that businesses will heavily reduce in-person meetings and business travel after the pandemic since we’ve all learned how much we can accomplish remotely. With this in mind, suits and ties will likely be relegated to formal and for those who love to wear them. I imagine the norm being creative new combinations (knitwear, vests, shirt jackets, woven shirts) for some degree of personal expression.

At Eton, we’re talking to our retail partners more than ever since March. We’re working fast to adjust our business and support our retailers during these volatile times. We tested some things that worked and others that didn’t. But the most important thing is to keep trying. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t give up. We continue to invest heavily in the digitization of our business: our B2B software for replenishment and custom, our digital showroom to sell-in collection product, and our digital support to our wholesale customers so they have everything they need to be successful. Most of these retail partners are evolving their businesses to better support the changing needs of end consumers, who are quickly migrating to digital shopping and services.

My crystal ball? Customers aren’t going away and their need to clothe themselves will not go away. However, the way we sell to them and the way men put themselves together in the morning is changing rapidly. We have a lot of smart, committed, enthusiastic professionals in our business (wholesale and retail) who will surely build a successful new roadmap during 2020 and 2021 to fulfill these changing needs. But again, it’s going to take grit and determination to power through this transformation.

What’s helping me personally: I remember how important it is to stop and smell the roses. I feel so grateful each morning to wake up and be alive, surrounded by a healthy, loving family, with a great job in an industry I love.


DURAND GUION

GROUP VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FASHION OFFICE, MACY’S

In the early days of the shutdown, I just wanted to feel comfortable, but as time progressed, the more fashion-forward items I used to love began calling me from the depths of my closet. Unfortunately, a large percentage of these items were not comfortable enough to wear while working long hours from home. Hoodies, however, are among the most comfortable and versatile wardrobe options so I chose this spring/summer 2020 Dries Van Noten model mostly because of the intricate appliqué work. It felt like the perfect balance between dressing up and down at the same time.

I think it’s too early to accurately predict what the future for men’s fashion will look like. I do think men will move more towards a buy-now, wear-now mentality. Potentially when the weather changes, guys will be motivated to shop and will start thinking through how their work-from-home wardrobes need to evolve.

Regarding tailored clothing and dress furnishings, that business will depend on when formal events/gatherings start up again. I do predict, as a new normal unfolds and it feels safe to socialize, men will regain a desire to dress up, even if it’s only occasionally.

I believe the most important thing any retailer can do today is listen to their customers and maintain some level of newness on the selling floor to continue engaging those men who are willing and able to shop. Retail and fashion are not going away: yes, the business will change but clearly it needed to, well before the pandemic.

My personal mission during this difficult time is to keep my mindset firmly focused on the present with a strategic nod to the future. The world has changed, lifestyles have changed, but we will get back to some level of normal. The fashion customer has not lost interest in fashion; if anything, he craves it now more than ever. As retailers, we need to make sure our assortments reflect excitement and joy, rather than the same old stuff.”

2 Replies to “QUARANTINE STYLE”

  1. Congrats Eric!
    I love your morning routine idea and agree that you have been Super creative and effective the last few months.
    Great selection!!!!!!

  2. Erik:
    What a great read. Whatever you wear you always look terrific. I think it’s important like you said to look professional, and put together. If a person is wearing workout clothes chances are his mind is at the gym. If a person is dressed well it we show in his / her performance. Hope you are well.

    Best,

    Tony

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