Fashion Report: The Next Era of Women’s Suits is Upon Us

Fashion Report: The Next Era of Women’s Suits is Upon Us

The next era of women’s suits is upon us

Yesterday’s tired market now reads like a blank slate, as more brands introduce women’s suits in response to new demand.

On Friday, 15-year-old Indochino, a maker of men’s custom suits, announced its expansion into women’s custom suits. Two suit silhouettes developed with women’s bodies in mind are now offered in eight of its stores in Toronto, Seattle, Vancouver and New York. She also presented the first skirt of hers.

Other companies that specialize in men’s tailoring have recently expanded into women’s styles and subsequently reported results that mark the opportunity. They include Japan-based Kashiyama, which launched in the US three years ago, expanding its custom suit options in the market to include women’s suits in 2020. Since then, its sales in the category have grown every month. , with a special “huge increase” in the last eight months, according to BJ McCahill, vice president of Kashiyama. Meanwhile, Chicago-based SuitShop, which expanded its tuxedo business to include women’s styles in late 2019, reportedly increased its revenue from $3 million to $20 million in the following two years.

The leaders of these brands say that the trends are working in their favor. Many women are looking to update the fits of their work suits to feel more comfortable and therefore current. Others want to level up from matching tracksuits to more refined looks that are just as understated. Finally, there are those looking to modernize their approach to special-occasion wear by thinking beyond predictable, more formal dresses: as consumers become increasingly budget-conscious, the cost-per-use of clothing purchases it has also become a more important consideration.

For Indochino, getting womenswear right will require a slow and steady approach, CEO Drew Green said. “We have been selling [exclusively] to men for 15 years; we have a lot to learn,” he said.

At the earliest, the company will implement the women’s category on its e-commerce site and in most of its remaining showrooms by the end of this year, after refining the offering and customer experience based on feedback from the clients. After opening six more stores between now and October, it will have 93 locations in 44 markets, none of which will sell exclusively women’s styles. The plan is also to eventually launch fabrics that cater to women’s preferences.

As Indochino has been “very conservative on the budget” for launching womenswear, there is no pressure to move fast, Green said. However, she predicted that the company’s women’s business will be as big as its men’s business in 10 years. From 2020 to 2021, Indochinese sales grew by 85%.

“We’re growing at a rapid pace and we’re doing it profitably,” he said. “At the same time, we are investing in the business and maximizing every opportunity.”

Over the next 12 to 24 months, Indochino plans to refine its existing categories, rather than introduce new ones. It launched outerwear and casual wear just before the pandemic and has built on the latter ever since. Green said he hopes the pipeline partnerships established by 2023 will be business “accelerators.” Still, he has no plans to seek additional funding.

Until the broader launch of women’s suits, Indochino will refrain from investing in any of its usual marketing levers spanning search, social, display, affiliate, outdoor, radio and TV channels. Eventually “celebrities and athlete sponsors” will be included, she said. On Friday, the company sent out a press release and announcement email to existing customers, as well as posting about the launch on its social channels. Green anticipates that Indochino will also gain female customers in the store as they shop for wedding looks with their fiancés.

The expertise in made-to-measure womenswear from Indochinese manufacturing partner, China-based Dayang Group, will no doubt prove a boon to the company as it gets womenswear off the ground. The Group manufactures suits for brands such as Ralph Lauren and J.Crew. Indochinese women’s workforce should also prove beneficial; in addition to “half of the management team,” more than 50% of all workers are women, Green estimated. And chief operating officer Morgan Whitney led the womenswear launch, bringing “her insights of hers” to the project, she said. No new hires were required to kick off the category, although store associates received training on how to adapt to the new styles.

But the company is going in with an open mind about how buyers will accept the styles. According to Green, following the soft launch of the women’s category, a customer in Seattle purchased a suit consisting of a jacket in the “Madison” silhouette made for women and a pair of pants from the men’s assortment. “She just liked the cut of the [men’s] better pants,” he said.

He added, “Our client likes to be able to have fun and find a truly custom look. And we want to serve all genders. [Womenswear] It is our next adventure.”

There is clearly an opportunity. For its part, Kashiyama, owned by the Onward Group, has seen its women’s suits grow to represent 20% of its business in the United States. Their specific assortment has evolved based on demand to include oversized jackets “with a bit more flair”, jackets with cropped lengths and longer sleeves, wide-leg pants, and skirts that are fuller and longer than pencil styles. . She also began to offer fabrics in bright colors, such as yellow and purple.

“There are fewer cut-and-dry rules on women’s suits,” McCahill said. “There is more freedom to play with silhouettes and proportions, and the opportunity to customize has proven to be [valuable] to women.”

Kashiyama’s women’s buyer base has come to include working women, fashion-forward women who see custom styles as a means of self-expression, and women who have written about the idea of ​​wearing dresses for special occasions. Kashiyama is now seeing demand from retailers who want to sell their women’s styles, McCahill said.

“For a long time [during the pandemic], we were stuck at home,” he said. “It feels good to be able to dress up again and kind of show off to the world a little bit.”

While suit options before the pandemic were often considered outdated or stuffy, today’s offerings have made the category feel fresh. Loose-fitting three-piece suits have been launched by fashion company Rouje, independent retailer The Frankie Shop and Something Navy by Arielle Charnas, to coincide with the brand’s relaunch on Friday. Cropped blazer versions have proliferated on runways and fast fashion assortments over the last couple of years. And bright rainbow options are catching on. Just this week, model and businesswoman Karlie Kloss wore hot pink and orange versions on consecutive days as she visited her Kode With Klossy teen camps; the latter was from Another Tomorrow, released in 2020.

According to Kayla Marci, market analyst at retail intelligence firm Edited, the number of women’s suit options available at US and UK online fashion retailers has increased 151% year over year. And runway shows leading up to spring 2023 provided evidence that the trend will stick. Marci pointed out the three-piece suits shown at Victoria Beckham; slouchy single-breasted blazers by Stella McCartney and preppy mini-skirt ensembles by Philipp Plein. A May 2022 report by Grand View Research shows that the women’s suits and ensembles market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 4.8% between 2022 and 2028, reaching $16 billion.

Many companies known for selling traditional costumes were affected by the effects of the pandemic, opening the door to new entrants and innovation. Both Brooks Brothers and J.Crew filed for bankruptcy, formal workwear sources including MM.LaFleur shifted their focus to business casual, and Indochino competitor Suitsupply closed its own women’s business, Suistudio. , while making other cuts.

What Tapestry, Inc. earnings reveal about the state of ‘aspirational luxury’

On Thursday, Tapestry, Inc., the parent company of Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman, reported earnings for fiscal 2022. For the year, it posted a record $6.7 billion in revenue, up 15 percent. compared to 2021 and an increase of 11% compared to the pre-pandemic of 2019.

According to Brian Yarbrough, consumer discretionary analyst at Edward Jones, earnings beat projections but were still “a little light.” Exchange rates and the strength of the US dollar, as well as headwinds in China and air freight costs, were to blame.

“[Tapestry] it’s doing a great job of controlling the things that they can control,” he said. During the earnings period, such strategic moves included closing underperforming stores, significantly reducing the number of SKUs for a more focused product assortment and decreasing clearance merchandise, and staying focused on cost savings while putting money into marketing.

Yarbrough said brands in the “aspirational luxury” market, which include Coach and Kate Spade, as well as Capri Holdings-owned Michael Kors, among others, have realized that instead of operating to meet big sales goals, they should focus on profitability and getting the right product to market. At the same time, they’ve moved away from discounts, which “only tarnish the brand,” he said. The result has been a much healthier, more rational and growing market.

For Tapestry, Inc. brands, recent benefits have included attracting and retaining new, young customers. And, Yarbrough said, he sees a big opportunity for Coach and Kate Spade when the Chinese market picks up.

In the meantime, fans of the Tapestry brands can expect to see more changes. As “the price gap between [aspirational luxury] and luxury players have never been bigger,” said Yarbrough, who expects Coach, in particular, to raise prices further soon.

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