Although the name may suggest otherwise, The Groomsmen Suit is a tuxedo and suit e-retailer co-founded and operated by two women, Jeanne Foley and Diana Ganz.
While planning her own wedding, Foley and her husband went the tuxedo rental route to outfit their groomsmen, but she says the process was overly expensive and inconvenient. “We realized men were gravely under-served in this market,” Foley says. “Women have such an experience getting ready for a wedding, either as a bride or a bridesmaid. With men, it’s a daunting, inconvenient, expensive process.”
Thus, The Groomsmen Suit launched in February 2016 on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, where it offered a black tuxedo and four suit options to supporters at different supporting tiers. It exceeded its $7,450 goal and raised $11,083 from 45 backers.
It moved to TheGroomsmanSuit.com shortly thereafter and grew quickly via word of mouth. At launch, the retailer operated out of a 1,800-square-foot headquarters where it stored 10,000 pieces but outgrew the space in six months. “People say selling out is a good problem but when you’re dealing with weddings, you don’t want to cause stress,” Ganz says. “Now, we’re fully loaded with inventory with a new predictive software system.”
The Groomsmen Suit now operates out of a 22,000-square-foot headquarters that serves as a warehouse—storing 80,000 pieces for quick turnaround of online orders—and a showroom for Chicago shoppers.
The Groomsmen Suit doesn’t plan to ever convert the showroom into a bricks-and-mortar space because it wants to keep its prices low. “With brick and mortar comes expense and that gets handed to the customer because we need higher margins to operate,” Ganz says.
The showroom space allows shoppers to get fitted and place their order in person. But for those who can’t come into the showroom for a fitting, TheGroomsmanSuit.com has a fit finder on its website that tallies a shopper’s height, weight, jacket and pants fitting preference (modern or slim) and typical suit sizes and then delivers suit options. “Usually we get within one size because our algorithm is very, very accurate,” Ganz says. “But if we don’t nail it, we offer free and unlimited exchanges.”
The Groomsmen Suit carries more than 70 jacket and pants sizes in four different lengths and two fit types. In total, it has about 1,000 SKUs, including ties and accessories. “We’ve been able to fit NFL players because of all the sizing options,” Foley says. “Our goal is to have the biggest size range in the industry.”
Fast-paced online growth
Next month, The Groomsmen Suit will hit its three-year anniversary. The retailer expects to do about $10 million in online sales this year, up significantly from $2.5 million in online sales in 2018.
Foley and Ganz attribute their fast-paced growth to their focus on customer service and unique positioning in the industry since most of its competitors rent tuxedos and suits rather than sell them.
“Our turnaround time is unique in the wedding industry,” Foley says. “Typically, you place your order several months in advance and then you receive it a few weeks before, or even the week of, the wedding date. And then you’re spending $200 or more and just for a rental. So we give that immediate gratification, the guys can have the confidence in their fit, put that wedding task aside and be done.”
Suit and tuxedo jackets on TheGroomsmenSuit.com range from $129 to $199, while pants range from $65 to $95. Renting from a suit retailer—such as The Men’s Wearhouse Inc., No. 109 in the Internet Retailer 2018 Top 1000—can cost anywhere from $125 to $230 for a one-time wear. The Groomsmen Suit, however, has an average order value of $194 (for a suit jacket and pants). So, the shopper not only gets to keep his purchase but is, in some cases, spending less, Foley says.
“We are noticing a trend where the groom will offer an accessory, [such as a tie or shirt], as a gift and purchase a coupon code from us that his groomsmen can use to put toward their order,” she says. “It’s something that isn’t usually done for rentals.”
This year, The Groomsmen Suit aims to focus on “perfecting the little things,” Foley says. The retailer wants to enhance its services and test out some marketing—with subway ads, social media and by marketing at wedding expos—after growing quickly through word of mouth and organic SEO. “That caught us off guard, so we didn’t want to spend more money on marketing in case we couldn’t keep up with orders,” she says.
In addition, the wedding retailer is on the hunt for strategic wedding-related partnerships, such as wedding planners, to direct grooms and groomsmen to its website. So far, The Groomsmen Suit has partnered with men’s shoe retailer Marc Nolan and with men’s wedding band retailer Hitched.
The Groomsmen Suit also plans to build out its new brand, DapSuits.com, for high school-aged shoppers that need prom, homecoming or college interview attire.