by William Buckley

While the bulk of the tailored clothing business is suits built to serve men year round (give or take a layer or two), a sale of one of those does nothing to drive business for the rest of year.

“I’d say seasonal fabrics represent seven percent of annual clothing volume in department stores and I’m being kind,” says president of Peerless Clothing Ron Wurtzburger. “Most guys wear the same suit in January snowstorms that they do in August heatwaves. Retailers need to get more aggressive pushing seasonal clothing: they could double the business.” Fortunately, more receptive retailers in both the luxury and contemporary markets are having better results than most department stores. “Year-round weights are ideal for our clients who wear suits every day,” says Suitsupply VP Nish de Gruiter. “But we’ve seen a strong increase in our seasonal fabrics, currently at 15 percent of the business and rising.”

Adds Bergdorf Goodman fashion director Bruce Pask,“Blends like wool/linen, silk/linen, and also the interest that those blends create are driving a stylish seasonality in tailored clothing. We are seeing these very deep, rich seasonal textures, which definitely enhance interest and create an excitement in the wearer that there is a big market for.”

Macy’s VP and men’s fashion director Durand Guion is also seeing a shift to seasonal suits. “Seasonal fabrics are creating a new look on the floor between seasons,” he says. “Our customer has been replacing or updating his tailored wardrobe with slimmer silhouettes and is open to experimenting with seasonal fabrications.”

Tom Julian, men’s director of Doneger, takes these observations one step further, explaining, “I am intrigued by how many retailers are offering cotton blazers, linen halflined or unlined jackets and sporty nylon year-round now.”

VP and men’s fashion director at Saks Eric Jennings agrees. “There has been a shift away from the season-less fabrics to seasonal suiting: cottons in the spring, linen in the summer, corduroy in the fall, flannel in the winter; suits are the new sweater: different weights for different seasons. I see the market moving in that direction.”