M&S & OTHER BRANDS PULLS SUITS FROM STORES
With more work calls and team meetings now taking place from the comfort of home due to Covid-19, office wear has become decidedly more relaxed.
The new work-from-home reality has rapidly recalibrated the fashion code for professional wear, which is presenting challenges for retailers that sell formal clothing.
Races, weddings, proms, parties and even funerals have all been cancelled or severely curtailed since the start of the coronavirus crisis – posing a serious problem for tailoring retailers and brands.
The business casual trend was present before lockdown but has been accelerated.
More than 90% of our customers still see themselves dressing smartly for work, but that has changed from a suit and tie.
There’s been an emergence of ‘Zoom casual’ – effectively dressing smartly from the waist up and still wearing a shirt, but perhaps with a softer collar.
Tailoring was a big trend on the catwalks in January and February, whether from contemporary labels such as Wales Bonner, or classic luxury brands Prada and Dolce &Gabbana.
To get many consumers back into tailoring, the category will have to be easier to wear at home.
If brands can demonstrate that their smart and tailored offers are versatile enough to be worn with other more casual items by creating looser shaped trousers and non-restrictive shirts], they stand a better chance of getting the sales they will no doubt be looking to claw back.
In total, sales of suits in the UK have fallen by 2.3 million over five years, according to the market research firm Kantar Group.
It said men purchased two million of them in the year to July compared to 4.3 million for the same period in 2017.
Kantar data shows annual sales of men’s suiting feel from 469m pounds in 2016 to 159m pounds in past year to July.
As per the latest reports suit sales are down by 80% since the start of the pandemic
Once a destination for suits and formal wear, Marks & Spencer is arguably betting on casual fashion and no longer selling suiting in most of its stores.
The decline began in 2019 when M&S said sales fell by seven per cent. M&S said it sold just 7,500 suits – a fall of 80% compared to the same period in the previous year.
M&S said in the year to April its formal wear saw a decline of 15% online and 72% in stores compared to the previous year.
During the same period, sales of casual wear increased 61% online.
M&S has stopped stocking suits across more than half of its 245 larger-format stores. Just 110 of the chain’s 254 locations still have suits on the rails.
Over 50% of M&S’s bigger stores are no longer selling suiting, with tailoring available in just 110 of its 254 larger stores.
Instead, the retailer is focussing on categories such as chinos and shirts, which have higher sell-throughs.