It’s April when new students and graduates wear brand new suits and start working.
However, the trend towards pandemics and recent casual office wear has pushed suit sales down as more people work away from home.
To survive, many apparel companies are testing new business models to attract more customers.
For example, there are 14 brands of suits in the menswear section of the Meitetsu Department Store in Nagoya, and we are having a hard time. This section usually sees a surge in demand from students and workers enrolling in colleges and new companies in the spring. However, the pandemic forced us to temporarily close or shorten business hours last spring.
“It has been very difficult for us since the coronavirus epidemic,” said an employee of the department store in charge.
Sales have recovered this year, but have not reached pre-pandemic levels two years ago.
The pandemic has also caused a change in customer demand.
With the increase in telecommuting, people chose more casual work clothes. As a result, the menswear section began to focus on jackets and trousers made of comfortable and stretchy materials.
Even with new product lines, the entire men’s clothing industry is struggling. Major companies such as Aoyama Trading, Aoyama Trading, and Haruyama Holdings, which are famous for Aoyama Trading, expect sales and profits to plummet in the fiscal year ending March.
Aoyama Trading called on workers to voluntarily retire from December to February, seeing the decline of business due to the coronavirus, and urged about 600 workers to hire.
The company had planned to close 85 unprofitable stores in the three years until the end of 2021, but it has expanded to about 160 stores, accounting for about 20% of the stores.
“We expected sales to decline due to the retirement of the baby boomer generation and fewer people wearing suits, but the coronavirus pandemic accelerated the trend,” said an Aoyama employee.
Due to the decrease in life events such as business trips, weddings and funerals, the chances of wearing a suit have decreased, the possibility of the suit wearing out has decreased, and sales have fallen.
But it’s not just Japan. In July last year, Brooks Brothers, the oldest retailer in the United States, filed for bankruptcy, although the president had worn a suit in the past.
Despite being at a loss, companies are striving to adapt to change. Companies are promoting cardigans and jackets that are better suited for working from home.
In June of last year, Nagoya clothing company Cross Plus began selling polo shirts, knitwear, and T-shirts under the men’s business wear brand “Bizcos” in order to enhance its casual clothing lineup.
“(Polo shirts) can be worn both business and private, and can be paired with a jacket,” said a CrossPlus employee. “We talked about what it takes to create a comfortable working environment.”
Polo shirts and T-shirts are available in multiple lengths by size to give a clean impression without having to push them in. Made of a material that does not easily wrinkle, knitwear uses threads that do not easily become pills.
The company anticipates that telecommuting will become more prevalent, especially in urban areas, and that workers will be able to work in a variety of clothing.
“There is more freedom in what people can wear for work. We want to provide clothes that can be used in many business environments,” he said.
Even without a pandemic, the suit market has been declining in recent years. According to a survey by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the annual expenditure of men’s clothing per household in 1991 was 19,043 yen. Although the survey was started in 2000 including households of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the comparison is complicated. From 2009 to 2019, it decreased to less than 10,000 yen and stayed at around 5,000 yen.
It fell to 2,893 yen in 2020.
“Until the early 1990s, as a social practice, suits were essential to express social status within an organization,” said Kensuke Kojima, president of apparel consultancy Kojima Fashion Marketing.
In addition to the Ministry of the Environment’s Cool Biz campaign, which began in 2005, Kojima said the reduction in suit wear could be due to the retirement of baby boomers to encourage casual work clothes during the summer. Pointed out.
According to Kojima, the promotion of sports agencies to commute with sneakers in 2018 also contributed to the adoption of casual work clothes.
He explained that long-term care insurance and other tax-increasing premiums for people over the age of 40 “reduced workers’ spending on clothing.”
This section covers topics and issues in the Chubu region that the Chunichi Shimbun covers. The original article was published on March 29th.
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