Will Men’s Wearhouse’s new digitally-equipped next-gen stores be a must shop?

Photo: Men's Wearhouse
Feb 11, 2021
Tom Ryan

Men’s Wearhouse recently introduced its first two next-gen store locations that feature a more streamlined layout and host of digital elements.

The standout non-tech feature of the concept is a visible back stock area called “The Vault,” which significantly reduces inventory on the sales floor, including an 85 percent reduction in on-floor suiting count.

The reduced inventory on the floor improves sight lines, reduces clutter and enables elevated visual merchandising of key items and head-to-toe looks on perimeter walls. The chain’s historically wide size range availability is retained.

“We’ve always kept a range of sizes in the store,” Carrie Ask, chief customer officer of Tailored Brands, the parent of Men’s Wearhouse, told WWD. “We are preserving that legacy but liberating space for more storytelling. We’ve opened up the entire sales floor.”

Will Men’s Wearhouse’s new digitally-equipped next-gen stores be a must shop?
Photo: Men’s Wearhouse

The store features distinct zones for custom, rental and retail sections. Casualwear and rental, two key areas targeted for growth, receive more prominent positioning.

Among the tech features:

  • Artificial intelligence-driven technology from 3DLOOK analyzes two photos taken of the customer to quickly determine their clothing sizes for contactless measurement. 
  • A “Digital Shirt Wall” enables customers to use a touch screen to select their desired style, fit and color from in-store and online inventory. Customers add shirts to their “virtual fitting room” and associates bring selections for them to try on. 
  • In the custom department, a “co-create” table enables stylists to tap technology to work with customers. Stylists browse iPads to allow customers to visualize hundreds of fabrics and multiple style combinations. Devices cast 3D-renderings on a large-screen display during the design process.

“We know that menswear retail is changing rapidly, driven by customers who are digitally connected, in control and expecting zero friction as they engage in digital and physical environments — often simultaneously,” Ms. Ask said in a press release.

The concept arrives as Tailored Brands underwent bankruptcy proceedings last year and is in the process of closing about a third of its stores as the work-from-home trend and restrictions on business events, weddings and other dressier events has hampered sales.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does Men’s Wearhouse’s next-gen store appear to successfully reinvent the shopping experience for tailored clothing? Do you see its tech or non-tech features as more promising?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"Men's Wearhouse has been a destination for suits and very few people are buying suits these days. Tailored Brands should lead with this concept and invite younger customers in"
"The bigger question is, will Men’s Wearhouse make the changes to their assortments that younger customers demand?"
"The quick answer is no. On the high end, customers want service — not efficiency. They want the whole human trusted advisor treatment."

Join the Discussion!

26 Comments on "Will Men’s Wearhouse’s new digitally-equipped next-gen stores be a must shop?"

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Neil Saunders

Being blunt, many traditional Men’s Wearhouse stores are grim. They’re grey boxes packed with stock. There’s little inspiration or excitement and no suggestion of experience. This new format seems like a leap forward. The digital aspects are particularly welcome as things like fit and style are important in suiting and it is good to see this made more convenient (and safer) for the customer. All that said, most of the formal market is still in the doldrums. I am sure that will reverse a little as the economy opens back up, but business will be a struggle for companies like Tailored Brands fro some time. All the more so as DTC and niche formal brands increase their penetration of the market.

Gary Sankary

I would suggest that suiting is a capability that might not be so important anymore. It was dying before the pandemic. That said you’re 100 percent accurate on your assessment in my opinion.

Bob Phibbs

Any guy knows that Men’s Wearhouse is the buy-one-get-two store. I love the departure and hope these improvements can move them to a more quality experience based on something other than price.

Mark Ryski

There’s a lot to like about this new store concept. But while the application of all the technology is interesting, I suspect much of it will be lost on Men’s Wearhouse’s older demographic. Furthermore, the positioning of the brand as the place where “old guys shop,” may prevent younger shoppers from experiencing the new concept. While I believe the new store concept has merit, given the size, scale and recent financial challenges the company has faced, I’m not sure this will make a big enough, fast enough impact in a category that is suffering tremendously due to the pandemic.

David Naumann

Men’s Wearhouse is experimenting with a lot of creative strategies to elevate the brand and “wow” customers that visit their stores. I hope it is not too late to save the brand. The reduction in merchandise on the sales floor will provide a more upscale image and require shopping to be more of a full-service and personalized experience. The tech features will make the shopping experience more fun and allow shoppers to feel like Men’s Wearhouse is more like a bespoke retailer.

Shep Hyken

While this is new for Men’s Wearhouse, it is not new to the retail industry. Other retailers in the eyeglass, makeup, and jewelry spaces and more have created a strong digital shopping experience. Some see this as a gimmick, however it is proving to be a viable way of engaging the customer and making the sale.

Jeff Sward

The description of the new format makes the new format of Men’s Wearhouse a must-shop stop, both personally as a customer and as a retail analyst. It sounds like a well thought through, evolved shopping experience. The ultimate success though, will be as much a function of their ability to shift their business into more casual wear as it is offering an enhanced shopping experience for down-trending tailored product.

Lee Peterson

I like a lot of what they’re trying; it’s more adventurous/relevant than many others who have opened “next gen” stores recently. Makes sense to me to have one of these physical efforts in a market and the rest of the business coming from an online version, especially the shirt wall (I love that idea). All the newness seems to work for both. After all, the new customer axiom emanating forth is, “if I can get it online, I will,” i.e., digital first — so tying them together makes great, 21st century sense.

Dick Seesel

By chance, I spoke to a vendor yesterday whose business was hurt by Men’s Wearhouse’s Chapter 11 filing and store closures. While the improvements in store experience and inventory management sound promising, it reminds me of the JCPenney test store in Hurst, TX. Is it too little, too late? If the company has emerged from bankruptcy with a smaller footprint and more financial constraints, it’s going to be hard to roll out the next-gen concept fast enough to impact the brand.

Richard Hernandez

I get email notifications each week on Men’s Wearhouse sales. I have made a few purchases over the past few months and have found the Woodlands test store to be clean, uncluttered and mostly now filled with younger salesmen to help customers. I did not see a lot of older clientele in the store. I am hopeful about the changes and implementation of new technology, but they will really have to scale this quickly to make an impact.

Cathy Hotka

Men’s Wearhouse has been a destination for suits — and very few people are buying suits these days. Tailored Brands should lead with this concept and invite younger customers in. This approach should have been tried years ago; Millennials who shop on phones (and see a maximum of four items at a time) get a little freaked out when they can see 1,000 SKUs at a time.

Bob Amster

To answer the question directly: the technology is helpful to the consumer, avant-garde (read: “cool”) and will become a standard in clothing stores over the next five years. Whether or nor it will improve Men’s Warehouse’s fortunes is a whole other matter. It is not a guarantee.

Perry Kramer

Men’s Wearhouse (Tailored Brands) recognized that they had a customer experience challenge and began addressing it prior to the pandemic. For years they have invested in the creation of a very strong digital channel in-store and on the web allowing them to fit and source apparel in any location anywhere in their DCs or stores in real time. Recreating the customer experience inclusive of leveraging their deep inventory, strong digital tools in their order management and customer experience tools will allow them to reinvent themselves as a stronger, smaller but still relevant shopping destination. Additionally, by recognizing that they needed to reduce store count (most of which is outside of malls – a good thing) and eliminating the significant overlap between the Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank, and assuming they move the learnings from MW to JAB, Tailored Brands as a whole will be more relevant to the individual shopper.

Gene Detroyer

As my wife often says, “Why should I go to a store? I can get everything I want online.”

Men’s Wearhouse answers that question with their tech offerings. Until all those things can be done comfortably at home and on a large TV screen, this is the future of in-store apparel retailing.

Gary Sankary

The bigger question is, will Men’s Wearhouse make the changes to their assortments that younger customers demand? All the great technology in the world cannot help move a product that is out of fashion. The formalwear and business attire segment was in trouble before the pandemic — barring a major change in men’s fashion trends, I don’t see it recovering much after this is over.

Georganne Bender

No doubt this is a good looking store, but aside from new technology and decor the sales floor still looks a lot like the stores I have visited in the past. They all have table displays with mannequins up front, a shirt wall, rental areas, spacious fitting rooms and a table (minus the tech) to put looks together. What’s gone is the sea of suits – I like that they are still accessible but behind a wall. The virtual shirt wall, where shoppers choose shirts on a screen and an associate brings them to a fitting room for you, is clever.

My experience with Men’s Wearhouse has always included attentive associates who pull together looks, and tailors that make the garments appear custom fitted. It’s clear that Men’s Wearhouse needed to reinvent its stores. My hope is that in its search for tech the retailer does not leave the best of what it has traditionally offered behind.

Bindu Gupta

The new tech features are a great step forward. They just need to figure out how to market this to their target audience in the leisure wear-dominant environment. Eventually the demand for tailored clothing will pick up but Men’s Wearhouse needs to plant the seed now to generate more foot traffic in the near future.

Oliver Guy

I love this. Steps toward re-inventing the experience in clothing are long overdue. I attended a lecture in 1994 by a professor of clothing technology who talked about being able to step into a unit where we were measured and clothes were custom made to size and that this would become mainstream technology. Here we are 25+ years later and it still is not with us — progress is needed and this is a great start.

Ryan Mathews

The quick answer is no. On the high end, customers want service — not efficiency. They want the whole human trusted advisor treatment. Also it seems off-brand for Men’s Wearhouse which has built its brand around a personal guarantee and a (low) price point. It seems that what they’re doing – in part – is automating suggested selling. You can do that as effectively online, if you are that kind of consumer. And that’s the real enigma here; exactly who is the target shopper and what technological benefit will resonate with them? Think about it. Any man who has ever bought a suit has had the experience of walking into a men’s store, and being (literally) “sized up” (in every sense of the word) by a pack of salespeople who can tell their size in one glance. It’s Old School contactless measurement. Is all this going to help the “Buy Two, Get One” customer? I, for one, don’t see it. In fact, it might have the opposite effect.

David Adelman

Too little too late, I’m afraid. Men’s Wearhouse is a discount chain and not a luxury brand. I feel they should focus on reducing actual floor space in each location while improving the merchandise assortments.

COVID-19 has reduced the need for suiting and accelerated casual wear within one year. A greater focus on in-stock products both online and in-store is essential at their price points.

Digital displays are always engaging, but a more concerted effort on a VR dressing room on their website would help gain and maintain customers in the age of e-commerce.

Patricia Vekich Waldron

Much-needed new strategy for menswear. They are smart to focus tech on the rental and casual wear lines since the demand for suits is permanently down.

Craig Sundstrom

Who? Seldom has a brand missed the presence of someone more than the post-Zimmer “Men’s Wearhouse.”
Back to the concepts: I’m not particularly impressed since to me it seems like they were developed by people outside the selling experience — the “improved” layout by an interior decorator, the computerized/automated features by the accounting department (to reduce staff). Buying a suit has always been about looking over the stock — one by one — and then having someone come out and fuss over you … one of the few times breaking the bro Code of Silence is allowed. I don’t think it should be about “story telling.”

17 days 2 hours ago

In my area they closed their Jos A Bank Store (which was nice and in a newer building) and kept the Men’s Warehouse Store (larger, in a 40 year old building, and not real great).

The challenge remains you have to get people to actually want to buy these products….

I think they should pivot away from formal stuff (certainly keep the category but for now, demand is way down and likely to stay that way) and highlight the more casual product in their mix. I’m not talking t-shirts and shorts, I’m talking sport coats and more casual shirts.

Also why do I have to go to the store to use 3DLOOK and the Digital Shirt Wall? Those sound like things I could just do from home.

Trinity Wiles

This is great and promising for the industry. The tech seems useful and experiential. The biggest consideration should be the learning curve for customers. It should be EASY to use. Another consideration should be training associates on the technology. Many experiential retail tech companies have failed because the technology isn’t self-service or associates are untrained on it.

Rachelle King

Men’s Wearhouse has certainly reimagined their in-store shopping experience. This brings a new level of high-touch to tailored clothing with a near seamless integration of digital to physical. Still, I have some lingering doubt about the long term financial impact. Is the need to reimagine the experience or the offering? Rebecca Minkoff stores are a good testament that the novelty of smart mirrors wanes over time. So, it’s good to see growth areas like casualwear and rental getting more prominent space. At the end of the day, experience is best optimized in combination with relevance. Long term, Men’s Warehouse will need to deliver on both.

Casey Craig

The updates that Men’s Wearhouse has implemented are a great upgrade to the shopping experience. It’s a win-win for the store and the customer, and I think we will continue to see more features like this implemented in brick-and-mortar locations.

These updated features will also help the brand move to a more updated business model, which could attract a younger demographic. Introducing similar digital capabilities, like the virtual fitting room, could easily be implemented on an app or website, allowing customers to design their perfect suit at home or on the go. Creating a hybrid experience that brings features like the digital shirt wall to online shoppers as well as in-store could go a long way in attracting new customers and meeting them wherever they shop. If you pair these features with a robust BOPIS system you could create a scenario where younger online shoppers design their suit at home and visit the brick-and-mortar location to pick it up, offering sales associates an opportunity to provide individual services, like fitting and accessories, to complete the look.

"Men's Wearhouse has been a destination for suits and very few people are buying suits these days. Tailored Brands should lead with this concept and invite younger customers in"
"The bigger question is, will Men’s Wearhouse make the changes to their assortments that younger customers demand?"
"The quick answer is no. On the high end, customers want service — not efficiency. They want the whole human trusted advisor treatment."

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