MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s executive apparel market is forecast to grow by as much as 15 percent to $115 million this year, fueled by strong demand for aspirational and luxury labels, observers said.

“There’s been a strong growth in the premium market, and we are seeing more demand in the aspirational and luxury segment,” said Duban Buitrago, commercial director at specialist brand D’Nieto, adding that the segment could gain 10 to 15 percent this year.

Ermenegildo Zegna, Hugo Boss, Salvatore Ferragamo, Brioni and Corneliani, which have made ambitious incursions in the past three years, dominate the market where three-piece suits fetch $800 to $1,500 on average.

A growing business market and economy are prompting companies to seek more fashionable executive apparel to enhance their image, Buitrago said. At the same time, aggressive marketing from local labels such as Aldo Conti and Men’s Factory (which have commoditized the suit market) is also driving sales, observers added.

Smaller labels Cavalier and Scappino are also gaining popularity.

Department stores Liverpool, Aldo Conti, El Palacio de Hierro and Sears top volume sales with their private J.D. Edwards, Aldo Conti, Chester & Peck and Carlo Corinto labels respectively, he added.

Miguel Angel Andreu, director of market consultant Cedetex, noted that while sales will be brisk, they won’t gain 15 percent. This is because Mexico is starting to catch up with the global office casual trend, which has hurt traditional suit sales.

“We are seeing something we didn’t see in the past, people wearing jeans and denim jackets,” Andreu said.

But Buitrago disagreed, noting that the trend will take a long time to solidify in Mexico.

“Depending on the economic or government segment, the need for formality is still inherent and will take a long time to change,” he said, adding that this is especially true in the banking, consultancy and other professional sectors. “We are still a traditional country.”

Buitrago said corporations, including clients such as mobile company Telcel, continue to uniform employees with suits, even on “casual days.” He said D’Nieto, which makes such suits for Telcel, Banamex bank and Intercontinental Hotels, has offered them a “casual Friday look,” but they have rejected it, preferring to use the look on Sundays.

D’Nieto, which makes 750,000 pieces a year at its Mexico City factories, expects sales to rise 25 percent this year, Buitrago said.

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