The middle market is the toughest part of every industry, not just fashion. Even so, it’s striking how much pain is being felt in the “middle stratum” of US menswear, where “bankruptcies are piling up like pawed-over pairs of trousers at a clearance sale”. Names like Barneys, Brooks Brothers and J.Crew are all in “very deep trouble” – demonstrating that the middle market, “big and appealing as it is”, is potentially lethal territory.
When trouble hits, high-end players invariably “seek bigger dollars by moving downmarket”, while low-cost producers “seek higher margins by moving up”, thereby squeezing out the middle dwellers. Usually, the cycle simply continues. But it may not this time – because, in addition to the problem of mid-market economics, “demand for mid-range menswear is disappearing”.
Most men today have just two types of clothes: their “best stuff” and the jeans and T-shirts they wear at weekends – and, increasingly, for work. Those of us who enjoy “variations in sartorial tone” have become “oddball hobbyists, like birdwatchers or opera buffs”. It’s fun, but there’s not much profit in it. (Robert Armstrong, Financial Times, 22 August 2020).
My comment: No snappy dresser me, but I rather like dressing up to go out to dinner or the theatre. People take you more seriously when you are well dressed and groomed and obviously look after yourself. They seem less interested in jeans and T- shirts…………I think.