by MR Magazine Staff

David Rubenstein from Rubensteins in New Orleans asks:

Have there been any recent studies comparing “rack clothing” business to custom/MTM? Our custom business is really growing since we’ve been promoting it. I also see that young merchants who’ve recently started in the clothing business are really pushing custom. During the MRket show in NYC, the “custom designer” group showed at the Warwick. These are young entrepreneurs who go door to door. Then there is Tom James, already surpassing $500 million in sales and aiming for a $1 billion in the next few years.

So I’m curious if the clothing business is really shrinking or just moving to custom? And to what extent are traditional retailers losing business to this trend? We find these new young customers are NOT brand loyal: they don’t know brand names but only the names of their custom sales associates. These customers like the way they look in a fitted suit but don’t want to see themselves coming and going. They know what they want their suit to look like and will go to the person who can execute their vision. Once they find that person who can understand and fit them, they’re loyal. They don’t want to go through re-measuring at another store.

I also find that, since computers, there are more sales associates on the road who have started carrying custom clothing lines. Europe and the Far East have introduced an incredible number of manufacturers who can make a custom suit in a week (less time than doing a suit in a store tailor shop). This also reduces in-store alteration costs.

I’d love to hear what others clothing industry execs have to say about this trend.