Thanks again to the amazing Tom for sending me an article from Bloomberg by Max Berlinger this week about what is happening, somewhat disturbingly, to custom clothes. The gist of the article is (it’s a paywall and we don’t link paywalls anymore) is that…
A 2022 forecast from personal-styling service Stitch Fix found that half of millennials say they never plan to wear a suit again, preferring to search instead for categories such as “business comfort.” Sales at clothing curator Thread actually went up in the past year, despite “significant declines” in the sales of suits, ties, and Oxford shoes.
Mr. Berlinger goes on to feature some pieces that are now being made custom. Why? I have no idea. The article is very well written. Slanted, but well written.
I had this professor in undergrad named Dr. Wayne D. Norman with whom I took statistics, and I got two things out of it that follow me to this day. First, the idea of statistical significance, which serves us to think about in almost every area of life. It runs like this: if 51% of people are wearing hoodies and 49% of people are wearing ocbds, then yes, the majority of people are wearing hoodies. But is that majority a large enough factor to base decisions on? Should you decide not to manufacture ocbd’s because the majority is wearing hoodies? The answer is no, unless you ant to miss out on selling to those 49 people. So that majority is not significant enough to base a conclusion on, in and of itself. The second lesson from that class was to look at every data point you receive in its context. So when I read that the good people at Stitch Fix found that half of millennials say they never plan to wear a suit again, I presume they are not getting that information from the J. Press database.
Stitch Fix is a form of market research combined with online retail. And don’t discount their information entirely. Ralph Lauren is offered there. The way it works is this. You fill out a survey (online) to find “your style.” Then they send you ideas of things to buy from their suppliers, Lauren being amongst them. So yes, this would give you a place from which to conclude something about fashion. But only from people who (1) are looking for suggestions and (2) are willing to buy online from brands they don’t know and/or are not recommended. That kinda skews the abovereferenced, does it not?
Mr. Berlinger then points this out:
So, if not a suit, what then? According to the global shopping search engine Lyst, big trends coming in 2022 are NASA-inspired jackets and … moon boots.
Sigh. It’s April. Predicting trends for 2022 is a little like me walking outside, looking up and then predicting it will be sunny today.
But there are companies trying to find purchase in this sink of data and predicting-the-present. One such company is Tony Shirtmakers, out of Maine, which I understand makes a decent OCBD (requests to participate in the review have not been answered). Their answer, as highlighted in the article, is… The Shacket.
Cut, sew and ship is… 20 – 24 weeks. And the shacket costs $450. Which means that if I order two, Tony Shirtmakers will have $1,000ish of my dollars for half a year. Forget shirts, go into finance.
I’m not picking on Mr. Berlinger (again, well written article) or on Tony and his Shacket. If the Shacket were $79 and hanging on a rack, I might pick it up even. What I am doing is noting how these companies are taking the return to the office and forging from their own database statistics born out of a pandemic and pitching a custom made… Shacket. It’s smart marketing, but it is marketing.
Which is not to say millennials aren’t doing things differently. Take a look at this really interesting study from Pew. Millennials are not doing families the way other generations have. This makes complete sense. I rant against the legal concept of marriage all the time. If I told you, look, take every, EVERY asset you have and deposit it into this bank. I am talking every asset. The dresser your aunt gave you? That. Deposit that. And then come back in a decade. The odds are quite literally 50/50 that the bank will only give you back 50% of your assets, and you will have to pay a $25,000 legal fee to get even that.
I get it. There is the joy of the promise. I am just talking numbers. The legal concept of marriage.
Anyway, millennials are doing things differently, for sure, and that of course includes dress. What it does not include is a mass exodus from Ivy Style in exchange for elastic waistbands based on market research designed to sell you a $6,000 leather jacket.