Brooks Brothers, arguably the Establishment in the U.S. for men’s wear, is catching on to what young, flexible start-ups have known for a while — Web-based personal tailoring is where it’s at. This spring, the company is adding a digital version of its Suiting Essentials program, which currently provides in-store-only customization services.
What’s interesting is that the program, besides being an extension of the bespoke start-up options that seem to be taking over men’s wear, is another way to provide customers with more while physically carrying less (which is one of the early trends of the year for a few different kinds of retailers, from virtual trunk show sites to regular stores). Brooks Brothers’ custom tailoring isn’t completely personalized — the sizing is still standard, if more easily adjusted — but customers can mix and match four fits with thirty different fabrics, and order custom-made shirts. Everything is made to order and delivered in about a month.
Is this the best new way for retailers to maximize what they offer? The way we see it, everyone wins — the store precludes a build up of excess stock, the customer gets exactly what they want, and the only catch is that there’s a waiting period, but that’s a worthwhile con to an otherwise efficient system. And now, if even Brooks Brothers is doing it, maybe standard women’s wear retailers will begin branching out into more bespoke services.