The rented tuxedo may once have represented a right of passage for many men, but as a fashion statement its time appears to have passed.
Men are increasingly shunning the rented formal wear, a staple of weddings and other big events, with Men's Wearhouse (MW) recently noting that its tuxedo rental sales slipped 2.8 percent in the first quarter. On a conference call last week, CEO Doug Ewert predicted rental sales on a same-store basis would decline by the "low-single digits" for 2015.
The reason? Changing "cultural attitudes toward traditional weddings," Ewert suggested.
The millennial generation, which recently topped baby boomers as the country's largest population group b age, has ushered in a sea-change when it comes to getting hitched, with many opting for "I won't ever" over "I do." About one-quarter of today's young adults may never have married by the time they reach their 40s, according to Pew Research. When they do tie the knot, the grooms are increasingly opting for suits over more formal tuxedos.
"We're seeing an increase in the number of wedding groups who elect to purchase retail outfits as an alternative to renting," Ewert said. "We believe this is a function of a movement towards more casual and destination weddings."
Since 1970, more Americans have opted to remain single, although millennials are on track to reach the highest percentage of never-marrieds compared with any other generation, Pew found. Although some adults do end up marrying later in life, that becomes less and less likely as people age. The newlywed rate for people ages 45 to 54 is only 16 per 1,000, compared with 71 first-time newlyweds for every 1,00 never-married adults for 25 to 34-year-olds.
When Americans are opting to get married, they're increasingly likely to choose a less formal setting, bypassing the need for a starchy tux. Four out of 10 couples say they are looking for "unusual venues that better reflect their personality," according to TheKnot. That may explain why farms now play host to 6 percent of U.S. weddings, up from 3 percent in 2009.
There are also more sartorial options for men, as Bloomberg News reports. The Black Tux is a venture-funded site that allows men to order a range of wedding attire, including tuxes, for about $95 to $125 each, with free shipping.
Other online stores are also trying to catch the eye of men who don't want to be bothered shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, such as Trunk Club, which sells a range of informal and formal wear, and Combatant Gentleman, which told Fast Company that 40 percent of its customer base used to shop at Men's Wearhouse or Jos. A. Bank.
As for Men's Wearhouse, it's plan is to reach more men through one of the country's top department stores -- Macy's (M). By the end of 2016, it will offer rental services inside 300 Macy's stores. Still, with fewer men getting hitched, it may be a tough sell for millennial shoppers.