How Men’s Wearhouse Became a Bright Spot in the Declining Retail Space

EP+Co's brand campaign may have played a role

Men's Wearhouse debuted its new brand campaign in August with 'The Tailor.' Men's Wearhouse
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Hundreds of traditional small and big-name retailers filed for bankruptcy last year, including Toys ‘R’ Us, Wet Seal, Payless ShoeSource and The Limited. As of Dec. 22, store closures in the U.S. increased 229 percent year-over-year to 6,985, according to Coresight Research.

And yet—despite what some in the industry describe as a brick-and-mortar apocalypse fueled by the rise of ecommerce behemoths like Amazon—40-year-old Men’s Wearhouse saw business growth.

Why? The retailer’s lead strategic and creative agency, EP+Co, likes to think the recent brand campaign it created, which focused on customers rather than suits, played a significant role in this turnaround.

Last year, EP+Co won a pitch to put a fresh spin on the Tailored Brands-owned company’s longstanding motto: “You’re gonna like the way you look.”

“Our relationship started with what seemed to be a straight-forward project request—create a content strategy for Men’s Wearhouse,” said Kat Shafer, managing director at EP+Co. “The new strategy positioned Men’s Wearhouse as a solutions provider and an expert in finding the perfect fit by celebrating and featuring men of all shapes and sizes.”

After August, when EP+Co launched the campaign’s debut spot “The Tailor,” Men’s Wearhouse saw a 2.3 percent same-store sales boost in the fourth quarter. The initial 30-second ad focused on men and the real challenges they face when trying to find a suit perfectly tailored to them. Similar spots around that theme followed, including “Tale of Single” and “Big and Tall.”

“Consumers have certainly responded positively,” Bruce Hershey, vice president of marketing at Men’s Wearhouse, told Adweek. “From the launch of the new campaign, we have seen consistent week-over-week growth.”

The way EP+Co landed on its ultimate strategy for Men’s Wearhouse is an interesting story, too.

After doing some research, the agency determined that men actually only think about shopping .5 percent of the time. “That means 99.5 percent of the time men are thinking about something other than clothes,” Shafer explained.

That’s why Shafer and her team decided that, if men aren’t interested in suits, they likely won’t be interested in an ad that focuses on them, either. It’s not quite clear how EP+Co found that Men’s Wearhouse customers spend more time thinking about what they’re going to have for lunch than what type of suit they need, but the strategy seems to have paid off.

Moving forward, EP+Co will increasingly try to attract “younger customers,” Shafer said. The agency wants to convince these millennials that Men’s Wearhouse is not just a place to go when you have “an upcoming special occasion” but a spot to be outfitted for interviews, dates and what the brand is calling “Casual Fridays” and “Fancy Wednesdays.”

“We want to continue to evolve with our customers,” Hershey said. “We will constantly reinvigorate the brand position to deliver on our brand’s mission to supply the ever-evolving modern man with confidence by helping them like the way they look.”

@kitten_mouse Lindsay Rittenhouse is a staff writer at Adweek, where she specializes in covering the world of agencies and their clients.