The Affordable, Portable Suit
By George Anderson
What could be bad?
New men’s suits from Bagir Ltd., sold at J.C. Penney in the U.S. and Marks & Spencer in the U.K., look like others on the rack. They’re attractively priced ($177.99) and they’re wash and wear.
They’re wash and wear?
What would appear to be a key selling point may be the very thing that discourages men from buying these suits.
Men, it seems, equate formal attire with dry cleaners. The thought that they might just wash a suit at home and throw it in the dryer has many questioning whether they would look unprofessional in the Bagir suits.
Anne Hollander, a fashion historian and author of a book about suits, told The Wall Street Journal, “Suits aren’t meant to be convenient. If you wear a suit, you are joining the company of respectable people.”
Thomas Horton, CFO for AMR, the parent company of American Airlines, is among those who have difficulty with the concept of a wash and wear suit. “That would be hard for me to get my head around. It’s a foreign concept. It’s like starching your jeans. I wouldn’t do that either.”
The retailers selling the Bagir line, however, aren’t looking for consumers such as Mr. Horton to buy the suits anyway. Mr. Horton has his suits custom-made.
Tim Danser, a buyer for tailored clothing for men at J.C. Penney, described the target consumer for the suits as being “time-compressed” and “pocket-book compressed.”
Stuart Rose, CEO of Marks & Spencer said, “There are a lot of very busy blokes about who wear a suit for work, who go through a lot of wear and tear and who’ll want this because of convenience.”
Jim Moore, creative director for GQ magazine, has seen the Bagir suits. “This is a real business suit,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a suit that’s for every single man out there, but it has a sensible price and would be great as a starter suit, or for a guy who is traveling a lot.”
Moderator’s Comment: Will wash and wear suits catch on with men, particularly those just entering the tailored clothing
market? – George Anderson – Moderator