Why Rented Formal Wear is a Dying Industry

According to a new economic report from IBISWorld, rented formalwear is one of the key American industries in decline, threatened by imports and lower cost in the retail sector.

Maybe you’re not surprised, especially if you know how a rented suit can make a man look so spectacularly bad. But I suspect that poor fit and quality is only a small factor in this industry’s decline.

“External competition” is the key factor. Consumers are responding to the competition and purchasing their suits as they plan for a formal night out.

The IBSISWorld report says:

“Personal disposable income levels steadily increased over the last decade, even during the recession, which pulled consumers away from the rental sector and toward the retail sector.

To add fuel to the fire, low-priced suit and costume imports have grown, which has increased competition for rentals.

As a result, consumers are more inclined to pay a marginally higher price to own their formal wear rather than rent it for each occasion.”

You can buy a smashing but affordable tuxedo and 1) look excellent, 2) wear it again at the next formal event and 3) choose from a wider variety of styles, which (if you’re lucky) may even satisfy the matchy-matchy demands of bridezilla.

Perhaps another factor is at play here as well, one that’s even simpler. In America, the number of events requiring formal wear has steeply declined. More people are postponing marriage, and in the weddings we do attend – you might see the father of the bride in a Hawaiian shirt, not a tuxedo.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Lobo on Flickr