And now for the men...

As men’s formalwear continues to size down in silhouette, so fabrics and finishing touches are growing in importance. The leading international brands that will feature at BBEH are sending out a clear message: today’s groom thinks chic and aims to put fashion first

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jean yves Wilvorst



Manufacturers and wholesalers are perfectly placed to advise bridal retailers who want to enter the tricky men’s formalwear market. Here are some useful tips:

Graham Phebey at Masterhand:

  • Deal with a reputable supplier who offers weekly deliveries of stock.
  • Ask questions regarding durability and back-up service for when the inevitable errors are made.
  • Make your clothing selection with an eye on the longevity of style and the return you can make. Remember that the days of hire suits or fashion lasting for five years are long gone.
  • Brides make most of the decisions regarding the groom’s attire. To help the sale, mix your displays with menswear and make a point of asking about the groom’s hire intentions before closing the sale. You may even want to package up a deal on the men’s suits.
  • Have a sample collection covering at least jacket sizes 38 to 48 in store. Try to keep your selection down to a manageable six or seven designs.
  • With hire prices increasing heavily over the last ten years, customers are now comparing the value of hiring against the value of purchasing. With fashion edging the groom towards a slim-fit lounge suit, it is imperative that as a market we identify the danger this could bring to our industry. Grooms going to the high street and purchasing suits for himself and his ushers would have a devastating effect on both the hire and retailing of formal suits. The solution must be for men’s formalwear shops to promote the idea of hiring out morning coats and even top hats again, and also suits for a special occasion rather than just suits for a business meeting.

Nuno Correia from Torre UK:

  • Focus on suppliers who can provide an excellent service support.
  • Exhibitions, publicity and partnerships with local hotels are very important to make yourself aware to the public.
  • Hiring is critical but selling allows retailers to have a point of difference, and to offer grooms something really special. The groom must stand out from the crowd.

Andrew Roberts from Wilvorst:

  • Buy on a small scale to start with, increasing your stock as and when your wedding bookings demand. That way your cash flow is spread over a longer period of time.
  • Marketing is everything. You need to have a good website and be very active with your local wedding fairs. I appreciate they are a pain in the butt but it is always the hire shops that don’t do fairs which appear dissatisfied with current trading. You need to be proactive.
  • Do your homework on the opposition. Do they hold their own stock or hire from a third party? What are their price points? How can you maintain better ticket value, better stock, better service, make shopping with you exciting?
  • Whilst retailing formalwear is a market that’s increasing in the UK year on year, hire wear is still king by a long way. Retailing men’s formalwear as a standalone business would simply not work. Hire wear needs to be the main core of your business.

Pamela Robertson from Cameron Ross:

  • If, as a retailer, you have your own stock that you purchased then there’s a big risk that you’ll have to re-invest in new stock every year – either for new styles or to cover size ranges you don’t already have. Opting for hire means this burden of investment is passed on to your supplier.

Jane Powell from Heirloom and Ultimate Suit Hire:

  • Formal wear for weddings is far more complex these days. The choice is very varied and I would say it’s impossible for bridal shops to buy their own stock. It would take years to start to make a profit. Also, the space to house the suits would be problematic and processing returns in-house would be time-consuming and costly.
  • I’d suggest the retailer selects a respected formalwear hire wholesaler for the suits and invests in hire accessories to make their ranges unique. Waistcoats and neckwear are far cheaper to invest in and far easier and cost-efficient to process as they are washable items that can be turned around quickly.

Showing off at Harrogate
Anthony Formalwear B29
Avant Garde by Heirloom  B34
Beau Monde  M6
Cameron Ross B2
Heirloom Waistcoats B34
Hoesh B28a
Hunt and Holditch M6
Javier Arnaiz B15
Jean Yves A9
Masterhand B7
Michael George M6
Peter Posh Formal Hire B28
Punto Blanco C62
Rupert the Tailor L1
Simpson & Ruxton B28a
Torre B9/10
Ultimate Formal Hire B34
Wilvorst B30

To register now for BBEH, 8-10 September, click here

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