While suits or tailor-made suits were a must in every man’s wardrobe, the pandemic has changed the scenario as formals have lost their appeal. In fact, as per a BFG Magazine report, since 2013, the US suits market for both men and women dipped almost 23 per cent from $3 billion to $2.3 billion. And COVID-19 has fast forwarded this decline as is evident from the way the 200-year-old menswear brand Brooks Brothers faced bankruptcy with dipping revenues.
With only 21 per cent people wanting to return to their normal way post pandemic, and almost 32 per cent preferring a permanent switch to remote working practices, demand for formals is not expected to move north anytime soon. A PwC report had suggested prior to the pandemic, two-thirds of the US workforce spent four or more days a week in the office but that mindset has changed now. So, what does it mean for made-to-measure brands when workwear means sweatpants and tees.
Made-to-measure market could still grow
Of course, work from home has pushed down demand for regular formal work wear. But any webenair or web meeting still requires formal outfits. And as
Pandemic effected made-to-measure business will ride on technology to move forward a Twingate survey shows, 45 per cent employees say they are attending more meetings now than before the pandemic. With video conferencing and remote meetings the new normal, one still needs formals in their wardrobe.
And as the BFG Magazine report suggests, “past scientific studies have found links between the clothing that we wear, brain activity, and productivity, so well-fitting, high-quality workwear can still serve a purpose – even when we’re not at the end of a Zoom call.”
Of course, made to measure will change and this period could actually see a revival of the suit. “Following a period of making do, we tend to dress up in the wake of a crisis — women turned to luxurious dresses following the Great Depression. Once the lockdowns, health and safety concerns, and financial difficulties of Covid-19 pass, we will undoubtedly want to ditch the loungewear.”
Demand to continue
A McKinsey report highlights demand for made-to-order fashion continues despite the odds. Indeed, fast fashion has dominated the industry for the last few decades but consumers now prefer well fitted, long-lasting clothes that meet changing attitudes towards ethics and sustainability, over inexpensive, poor quality apparels. With some 65 per cent shoppers planning to buy less, but better following the pandemic, no wonder retailers like J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, and J.C. Penney are fighting to survive. And brands that are changing their product basket as per demand for more sustainable, better quality, and size inclusive requirements of the consumer are thriving.
For example, Giorgio Armani defied predictions of tailored fashion’s demise with the launch of new made-to-order line of women’s customizable jackets, trousers, skirts, and outerwear, recognizing that “Now, more than ever, clients want something meaningful.”
However, to survive through the current crisis, made-to-measure business will need to adapt, change and incorporate new technologies. For example, 3DLOOK’s Mobile Tailor enable made-to-measure businesses to collect precise body measurements remotely, without the need for in-person fittings. With smartphones, customers can capture their own body measurements anytime and anywhere using two photos taken on any smartphone device.
The bottomline is COVID-19 is just a temporary stumbling block, going forward made-to-measure business will adapt, change and move forward.