by Karen Alberg Grossman

The entire MR team is proud to present our February 2023 print edition. Haven’t gotten your copy, yet? Feel free to page through a digital copy at Issuu, and we’ll also post individual stories on in the next few days. If you haven’t been getting MR in print, be sure that you are on our mailing list for future issues by completing this form.

There’s no doubt about it: 2022 was the Year of the Specialty Store and we optimists at MR believe that 2023 could be another great one. Of course, we’re aware of the many challenges that specialty retailers are up against these days; our independent store survey in this issue discusses many of them. But the fact remains that department stores are closing doors left and right, investing in online rather than finding and training passionate sellers. While online shopping is not disappearing, the luster has been fading for both sellers and shoppers. As early internet adopter Greg Shugar noted in our January issue, “Without the in-person contact, it’s nearly impossible for online brands to develop a true relationship with the customer.”

And don’t we know it! As consumers, is there anything more satisfying than walking into a store with compelling product and educated (low-pressure) sellers who can give you real information? A special thanks to the many dozens of independent retailers who took the time to thoroughly answer our survey. Looking ahead, we hope to feature several of these stores, and others, in an online series.

Surprising some, tailored clothing was the star performer for independent stores in 2022. According to data provided by Blacks Retail, spring ’22 suit business was up 68 percent, fall up 13 percent. In formalwear, spring increases were a staggering 121 percent, fall saw gains of 59 percent, with similarly impressive stats for sportscoats, soft coats and dress trousers, all with maintained margins at, or close to, 60 percent. For more insight on tailored clothing, check out this month’s special section sponsored by Peerless. While clothing business has been largely wedding-driven of late, smart retailers are promoting a whole new way to dress featuring soft unstructured jackets in luxury fabrics. It’s been a homerun for merchants with distinctive product, pre- sented with impact.

For our fun piece in this issue, a nod to Valentine’s Day, we profile couples working together in the men’s fashion business. (And I thought people go to work to get away from their partners…) We hope you find their stories as heart-warming as we do.

And speaking of heart-warming, as one of many who adored Lee Leonard of DLS, I’m in a state of shock and sadness at his sudden passing. The hardest part for me as I digest the outpouring of love from our menswear community: I don’t think Lee ever realized how much he mattered to so many. And so, a reminder: nothing is promised us. Each day is a gift; live it fully and with purpose. And never miss a chance to tell your friends and loved ones how much they mean to you.

Photograph by Rose Callahan.


Comments are closed.