The rise in weddings in 2021 has been a boon for the sales of wedding dresses. Suits have also seen a big boost in sales.
Brands that focus on men’s suits like Suitsupply and Sene reported major growth in 2021. Sene tripled its quarterly revenue from Q1 of 2021 to Q4. As of January 2022, Indochino said 42% of its in-store appointments were wedding-related, reflecting higher and earlier demand than it typically sees for wedding suits than in previous years, according to Dean Handspiker, vp of retail at Indochino.
While many men typically rent suits for weddings or similar formal events, the flurry of weddings that have happened over the last year in quick succession has pushed more toward buying. When you have several formal events in a short period, suits have a lower cost-per-wear and become a better financial choice than renting. The average tuxedo rental from The Black Tux is around $100. A tuxedo from Indochino is $549. The Knot estimates that there will be nearly half a million more weddings in 2022 than in 2019.
In terms of sources, there are relatively few men’s fashion rental options. Even The Black Tux, with its annual revenue averaging in the tens of millions, is dwarfed by women’s options at the billion-dollar e-commerce platform Rent the Runway. Over the course of 2021, several men’s-focused rental companies like Seasons and The Rotation shut down due to pandemic-influenced lack of business, as well as some men’s suit brands like Brooks Brothers. And rental companies across both men’s and women’s cited a strain on inventory throughout 2021, thanks to supply chain issues. Those including Rent the Runway and Hurr added resale options in 2021.
“Rental makes a lot more sense for women’s formalwear than for men’s,” said Ray Li, CEO of Sene. “Men can wear the same suit to many events whereas, in women’s fashion, I think there’s an expectation to wear something different. So given the lower cost-per-wear for men’s, I’m not super optimistic about the prospects of suit rental.”
Purchasing of men’s suits has recovered greatly in the last year. From a low point of $14 billion in U.S. sales in 2020, men’s suit sales jumped to $16 billion in 2021. They’re now projected to hit $17 billion in 2022, according to Statista.
According to Suitsupply CEO Fokke de Jong, weddings are a big part of suiting’s growth. But how men are buying suits are differing in the wake of the pandemic, even as overall sales grow. For example, de Jong said that in 2021 men gravitated more toward SuitSupply’s ready-to-wear suits instead of custom suits to be ready for events that may have been rescheduled on short notice.
“The wedding boom is very noticeable,” de Jong said. While Suitsupply lost up to 40% of its sales in 2020, 2021 saw the company surge back to pre-pandemic levels of revenue.
Li said that Sene similarly noticed a shift in what customers look for when they buy suits.
“We’ve benefited a lot from the standards around comfort have shifted because of the pandemic,” Li said. “People expect a lot more comfort, even with their suits. And because ours are made from athleisure material instead of wool, we’re at the intersection of suiting and comfort that a lot of men are looking for.”