Elizabeth Cline focuses much of her attention on women's fashion in Overdressed. Her observations and argument, though, applies to men’s fashion. Two examples from men’s fashion – Jos. A. Bank and Cole Haan – support Cline’s argument for declining quality coupled with flat to declining price points.
Jos. A. Bank runs daily promotions such as “Buy 1 suit at full price, get 2 free,” and are meant to create foot traffic to the store and/or website. Store employees receive a sheet with the deals for each day for a given month. The clothes are not that good though.
The weave of the cloth is so scant, light pours through it. Suit pants except for the top line lack a liner. The stitching on the sides is long and rushed. The store offers to cuff pants and add buttons for braces. That effort is also slipshod.
While Jos A Bank never claimed to offer the quality of a bespoke suit, it does not bother to offer a suit comparable in quality to what a man could purchase off the rack from a Macy’s or Penney in 1982. Jos. A Bank is only offering a suit in name and cut only.
Investors do not care. Over the last five years, Jos. A. Bank’s stock price climbed from $37.32 to $64.95, an increase of 74%.
As to Cole Haan, the brand has never been known for producing a quality shoe. In the early 1990s, shoes salesmen warned of buying the shoes because the quality was lacking for a shoe with a price point above $100. Twenty years later, the quality has not improved while the price point remains at the same level. To spend that much money on a pair shoes that will not last longer than a year seems pointless.
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