Marks & Spencer now only sells men's suits from fewer than half of its stores as the retailer shifts its fashion offer to respond to a more casual way of dressing.
Its director of menswear Wes Taylor told the Sunday Times that the move to drop suits from many of its stores – in favour of more casual "broken" suits, such as jackets paired with chinos – was taken during the pandemic. But it seems the shift is here to stay.
“During the pandemic we worked hard to adapt our product offer to be more relevant to customers’ rapidly changing needs. Covid hit fast forward on the trend to more casual dressing that was already in train so our smartwear is now more focused on smart separates — easy to wear, stylish smart clothing that can be worn in lots of different ways," he said.
A number of customers had taken to social media to express their confusion and disappointment at turning up at their local stores to find no suits available. However the retailer has said it will respond to demand for suits – with demand expected to pick up for back to work and the resumption of weddings and other formal events – via a new video service.
A new video service was launched in July offering customers the opportunity to book a slot with a suit fitting specialist for a video call and virtual appointment. Customers will not only be fitted for suits but can also use the opportunity to shop for more casual items. Similar services have been rolled out for bra fitting and furniture sales.
In addition Marks & Spencer launched in-person group suit fitting sessions in response to the wedding market. The service is available at 25 of its largest stores.
The company pointed out that it had a large collection of suits available online and either delivered or collected from 700 locations. Almost all of its clothing stores still sell shirts and ties.