After an antitrust review that must have taken all of five minutes, the Federal Trade Commission decided that the two retailers won’t form a monopoly that corners the market for business casual. All those buy-one, get-one-free suits won’t suddenly sport Savile Row prices. And countless budding sartorialists will still be able to swing a satiny white tuxedo for prom.
Specifically, the FTC ruled the companies face “significant competition from other sources,” calling out Macy’s (M) and Nordstrom (JWN) specifically. Of course, executives at Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank would love to have an antitrust issue on their hands, but they are far from any kind of market-distorting power. Some more purchasing clout with suppliers may be the most they can hope for.
Last year, GQ published a roster of the best suits to be had for less than $400. The in-house brands of Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank weren’t on the list, although competitors such as Kenneth Cole and H&M (HMB:SS) made the cut.
A slew of fashion-forward options are available for guys with just a little more cash, $400 to $650. J.Crew’s Ludlow suit is now a fixture at twentysomething weddings. Bonobos, an e-commerce giant, has sharpened its suit game as well, spreading beyond simple staples to more exotic fare like chambray and glen plaid. Suitsupply, a Dutch company with some Continental flair, is fast expanding. It now has 11 stores scattered across the U.S. and another in the works for Dallas.
Meanwhile, any guy with a measuring tape, $500, and an Internet connection can source a custom suit from a service like Indochino, which routes orders from its Vancouver headquarters to a diaspora of tailors in Asia.
The FTC didn’t even consider companies such as Indochino in its review. “Buying a suit online does not seem obvious to most people,” its investigators wrote, “and online suit vendors generally cannot offer tailoring services.”
However, J.Hilburn, a Texas-based startup, will even send one of its 3,000-plus “stylists” to a customer’s home or office to take measurements. Hilburn’s suits, which start around $700, are made in Portugal from Italian fabrics.
When a guy can bring that kind of Internet arbitrage to bear on his closet, the notion of a menswear monopoly seems as dated as square-toed shoes.