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Groomsmen Getting DressedTuxedoes slowly became the gold standard for American weddings during the second half of the 20th century. Once strictly reserved for wear during evening formal events, they became the groom’s uniform du jour regardless of the time of day in which nuptial celebrations were held. While the formalwear industry offered affordable rentals for many couples, the convenience of online shopping and the decline of traditional weddings have now impacted the typical in-store business model. With these significant impacts, brick-and-mortar tuxedo rentals may become a thing of the past.

Why Have Rentals Gotten a Bad Rap?

Search the internet for “ugly tuxedos” and you’ll find plenty of “halls of shame” to browse. Among the worst examples are powder blue models from the 1970s, camouflage printed fabrics and black lapels seemingly slapped onto pastel-colored jackets. However, words like “ostentatious” and “garish” aren’t the only descriptive adjectives applicable to unfashionable formalwear. The usual complaints center around garments that Huffington Post contributor Jonas Bell Pasht described as “low-quality, ill-fitting and impersonal.” Pasht speculates that the industry catered to fiscally challenged engaged couples by providing cost-effective solutions. Their baggy trousers and overly long jackets may have been geared toward a wide range of heights and body shapes, yet these characteristics meant that no one enjoyed a proper fit. 

How Online Tux Rentals Have Changed the Landscape 

Within the last few years, a slew of online rental tuxedo vendors have debuted their innovative services. Offering conveniences such as better fitting and direct shipping to one’s residence, outlets like The Black Tux and Menguin seek to corner the market. The Knot contributor Scott Christian reviewed them, giving a thorough rundown on how each one handles fabric and style selections, fitting algorithms and the return process. Depending on the vendor, most suits or tuxedos are available in a wide range of sizes and at prices equal to or lower than in-store options. 

Some Traditional Retailers Step Up Their Game 

With the ability to order from home, easy returns and a higher likelihood of getting a good fit, it’s unsurprising that online menswear rental companies are outpacing traditional retailers. CBS News revealed that clothing giant Men’s Wearhouse reported a loss of 2.8 percent in its first quarter tuxedo rental sales of 2015. At the time, CEO Doug Ewert speculated that “cultural attitudes toward traditional weddings” were to blame, but didn’t mention anything about competition from internet menswear providers. Even so, the fact that the firm went on to offer online tux rentals may be evidence that it, too, recognized the value of these services to its customer base. 

Is Ewert Correct About New Wedding Trends? 

Interestingly, Ewert’s observations about the nature of weddings may be correct. Bloomberg disclosed findings from Bowling Green State University’s National Center for Family and Marriage Research that only two out of every five millennials had tied the knot by 2015. Many young people are delaying marriage due to strained finances from student loan debt or a desire to invest more in their careers. When they do marry, they're steering away from black tie formality and opting for either destination nuptials or nontraditional venues such as farms, beaches, public parks and even backyard ceremonies.

Like It or Not, the Times Are A-Changin’

Until recently, married couples-to-be took tuxedo rental for granted as part of their wedding planning. Many people considered ugly and ill-fitting garments as par for the course, an unpleasant reality to grin and bear until the day was over. Nevertheless, several trends may change the formalwear industry for good. Thanks in part to more online rental options, the decreasing number of people saying, “I do” and a new preference for less formal weddings, the rented tux may be going the way of the dinosaur.

Category: Wedding Planning Society

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