John from blacklisterblog e-mailed me his experience with Jos. A. Banks and why he chose to use them for his wedding party, despite the obvious negatives:
I’d like to chime in with my JAB experience. Last year, my groomsmen and best man needed matching suits. They are, to put it kindly, “careful with money”, or to put it cruelly, “cheap”. We needed a place that was inexpensive and offered the same suit in a variety of sizes (in our case, ranging from “software programmer” to “ex-Marine”). Midtown Manhattan has a JAB and a Men’s Wearhouse across the street from each other.
I second everything the PTO article says, except where staff is concerned. The JAB staff was very nice and backed off until we summoned them. Contrast this to the hyper-aggressive MW staff, and you have a much better shopping experience. The clothes are more Ford Taurus than Ford Mustang, which is to say they serve their purpose but are lacking in style. The cuts are boxy and generic, probably to fit the maximum range of body types. Frankly, I doubt the typical JAB customer notices or cares. Silentist is right in saying that these stores are built for the majority of men (aka, slobs) who think a suit is a suit is a suit and it might as well be cheap/easy.
Don’t give them your email address unless you want to be spammed three times a day with whatever pseudo-sale they have every other hour. I say “pseudo-sale” because, as the PTO article also points out, they inflate the price in order to mark it back down and trick you into thinking it’s a deal. Charles Tyrwhitt does the same perma-sale chicanery. Being a national chain came in handy for us.
One of my groomsmen lives in SF, which also had a JAB location. We emailed him the suit model # we picked in NYC and he got fitted out there, without needing a trip to the East Coast. Two hours before the ceremony, he realizes he packed the wrong suit. Crisis! Luckily there was also a JAB location in the small town I was getting married in. Best man runs to the car and saves the day.
In summary: if you’re the sort of guy who reads style blogs, you’re more Ford Mustang than Ford Taurus. These megastores are not for you.
Hope this helps.
This is a huge reason why JAB and MW gets a lot of business from wedding parties. I was involved in a similar experience last year where those in the wedding were spread out across the nation and needed to all be “fitted” (using the term loosely here) for a rental tuxedo. Also, it’s worth noting that MW is affiliated with David’s Bridal, so they upsell the bridal party into a package deal with the groom’s party — often matching fabric colors. (You can read more about my take on Men’s Warehouse rental tuxedos.)
In the end, I think you’re balancing convenience and cost against sartorial elegance. Having your party buy cheap suits and getting them altered is highly preferable though to having them rent, I’d say.
ADDING from badscene:
Just my 2 cents, but I had my groomsmen pick up suits from Lands End and they love them. I think we were able to pick them up on sale for ~160. Probably the same price as a rental and hopefully they’ll get a few more wears out of them.
Not a bad plan at all. Although, I like PTO’s suggestion slightly more of forgoing matching suits.