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‘Work from Home’ culture undermines American dress clothes retailers


The sudden transition to working from home has undermined American retailers that sell dress clothes. Men’s Wearhouse, Jos A Bank, Brooks Brothers, Lord & Taylor, Ann Taylor, Loft and Neiman Marcus are among the retailers whose parent companies have entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in recent weeks, having experienced a sudden drop-off in sales due in part to what industry leaders are calling “casualization.”

In 2011, Men’s Wearhouse accounted for 1 in 5 suits sold in America. Less than a decade later, demand for its suits has collapsed with its parent company Tailored Brands filing for Chapter 11 protection this month. The retailer plans to close up to 500 locations.

Revenue for men’s clothing stores is expected to decline by 13 per cent in 2020, according to research firm IBISWorld, and continue falling for several years. he pandemic has simply accelerated an ongoing pivot toward more casual wear in business, said Ray Wimer, an assistant professor of retail practice at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management.

Some retailers, such as women’s apparel chain Chico’s have benefited from earlier shifts toward more casual wear. But some retailers say the decline in celebratory events is hurting them more than the pivot toward casual wear in the work-from-home environment.

Retailers that specialize in dress clothes are adjusting their strategies to avoid going out of business altogether. Brooks Brothers recently announced a tentative deal to sell itself for $305 million to SPARC Group, a conglomerate including mall owner Simon Property Group and Authentic Brands, which used a similar strategy to rescue fashion chain Aeropostale.