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Men’s Wearhouse is upping the ante.
This story first appeared in the May 5, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The men’s specialty-store chain will introduce a limited-edition collection from designer Joseph Abboud for fall. The higher-priced offering from the company’s chief creative officer will consist of tailored clothing as well as other select items including shirts, leather jackets, sweaters, neckwear, scarves, gloves and shoes. The line will be called Joseph Abboud Collection and will be marketed through a new Joseph Abboud Web site that is expected to be launched around Oct. 1. It will not be sold in the Men’s Wearhouse stores, which carry the more moderately priced Joseph Abboud Heritage line.
Tailored clothing will be a hallmark of the Joseph Abboud Collection and it will be manufactured at the company’s New Bedford, Mass., factory.
“There will only be 48 to 60 of each piece, and I’m going to sign each one,” Abboud said. “And then we won’t make them again.”
The suits will sell for $695 and up; most of the Joseph Abboud product sold at Men’s Wearhouse retail stores sells for around $495. The limited-edition product will use all Italian fabrics and the first season will sport the signature Joseph Abboud color palette of browns, olives, birch, stone and russets.
“This is the start of building a real Joseph Abboud business,” the designer said. “We’ve never been able to do this before and this is a chance to reestablish the true DNA of the Joseph Abboud brand.”
At the same time, the company is adding made-to-measure shops at all of its stores for fall.
Last week, Men’s Wearhouse executives and board members hosted an event at the newly opened Madison Avenue flagship in New York centered around made-to-measure. Board members, including Allen Questrom, were fitted for suits that will be produced at the Massachusetts factory.
“By September 1, all of the Men’s Wearhouse stores will have Joseph Abboud made-to-measure,” Abboud said. The initial product offering will retail for $595 to $795 and more luxurious fabrics will eventually be added, bringing retail prices to $1,095 and up. “That’s a pretty good price for made-to-measure suits made in America from Italian fabrics,” Abboud said.
When Men’s Wearhouse acquired JA Holding, which owned the Joseph Abboud brand, in July for $97.5 million, the deal included the factory in Massachusetts. At the time of the purchase, the facility employed about 450 people. That number has since jumped to 600, according to Anthony Sapienza, the former president and chief executive officer of JA Holding, who now runs the factory for Men’s Wearhouse.
At the time of the purchase, Doug Ewert, president and ceo of Men’s Wearhouse, said the company was mulling going into the lucrative made-to-measure business and considered the factory one of the prime assets of the acquisition. The company also projected that the Joseph Abboud label could become a $300 million business within two years.
Last week, Ewert told WWD: “We are focused on growing our business by leveraging best-in-class people, processes and products. With Joseph Abboud, we are bringing together a best-in-class American men’s wear designer, a best-in-class high-quality American tailored clothing-production shop delivering best-in-class speed to market, and the best-in-class customer experience through our teams of store-based wardrobe consultants and tailors.”
Asked if these steps were the precursor to eventually opening stand-alone Joseph Abboud stores, Ewert responded: “One step at a time.”