Wedding supply chain issues mean grooms’ suits are stuck in transit


For weeks, Eric Palonsky had inhaled every article he could find on the Chinese government’s recent Covid-19 lockdowns. “Everything from Business Insider to the Wall Street Journal to the New York Post, I was just trying to figure out what was going on,” said Mr. Palonsky, 26, from Los Angeles. But Mr. Palonsky is not a professional global supply chain buff.

He was just a groom worried about whether his custom wedding suit will make it to the altar on May 22.

In March, Mr. Palonsky, a technical program manager for an energy company, ordered a custom two-piece from Indochino, a Canadian draper known as a benchmark for specialty bridal wear. Mr Palonsky’s groom ensemble – a light blue suit with toucan-print lining and his bride’s name embroidered inside – was produced in China and shipped from Shanghai late last month.

This is where things went wrong.

James Willis (centre) had to scramble to find a new wedding suit when he discovered his original size was out of stock.


Photo:

Courtesy of James Willis

In early March, as Covid cases surged in the Shanghai area, the Chinese government imposed a strict lockdown across the city, including its international airport. Outbound shipments from the region, one of the world’s major manufacturing hubs, were instantly saved. The ripple effects have been significant: in recent weeks, Apple said it could suffer a loss of sales of around $8 billion this quarter due to shutdowns, while Honeywell said production was down by half in its Chinese factories.

Supply chain hitches have been particularly troublesome for the glut of soon-to-be-married American men who have ordered bespoke suits produced overseas – an increasingly common option thanks to the rise of suit makers. relatively inexpensive direct-to-consumer suits like SuitSupply and Indochine. Now they don’t know if their outfits will arrive before they are due at the altar. All this in a banner year for brides and grooms: according to a study by The Wedding Report, a market research company, there will be nearly 2.5 million weddings this year, compared to only 1.27 million in 2020.

Guests looking for evening wear also feel the need. “That’s not what you want about a month before your wedding,” said Andy Sowder, 30, who works in logistics in Indianapolis and experienced delays on a custom Indochino suit for a wedding. friend this month.

The delivery issue has prompted men like Mr. Sowder to check the delivery status of their order daily (if not hourly), to repeatedly call Indochino’s customer service hotline, to tweet about the company and even message its CEO on LinkedIn, all in search of an answer. when they receive their precious costume for the big day.

For those with costumes in limbo, anxiety levels are high. A wedding is stressful enough, but now they’re worried about limited fabric choices, out-of-stock sizes, and miscommunication from companies about shipments hanging in limbo. Even after receiving their suits, the bride and groom complained about long traffic jams in the alterations department. That’s enough to turn the most balanced man into a groomzilla.

“It’s like a huge, huge source of anxiety for me as my wedding day approaches,” said New York college student Alexander McCoy, 33. He understood the lockdown was beyond Indochino’s control, but said there was a “lack of proactive communication” about his wedding attire. Luckily, like most men I spoke to, his suit arrived in time for his wedding this month, although it was quite wrinkled after being in a box for so long. (Mr. Palonsky of Los Angeles also finally received his suit.)

About 35% of Indochino’s business is specifically for weddings. The Vancouver-based brand produces its garments in the Chinese port city of Dailan and ships them to North America via Shanghai. It prides itself on completing a wetsuit in six days on average, but the shipping issue meant customers reported receiving wetsuits well past the company’s standard two- to three-week window.

After weeks of unforeseen delays, Eric Palonsky’s bespoke suit arrived just in time for his wedding.


Photo:

Courtesy of Eric Palonsky

To avoid delays, Indochino rerouted its packages through other parts of the world, and CEO Drew Green said the company still had $3.5 million more in sales this quarter than expected. It also said a small “single-digit” percentage of its shipments were delayed to the point of skipping the stated delivery date. “I think there have been some really good learnings in terms of communication and over-communication,” Green said.

Unforeseen supply chain entanglements are not an isolated problem for businesses in China, and grooms have been tackling them throughout the pandemic. For his wedding in April, James Willis, 24, a healthcare recruiter in Fresno, Cali. ordered a rental tuxedo from Black Tux, a startup that lends stylish wedding outfits. For months, Mr. Willis thought his order was ready, but just weeks before the wedding, he learned his suit size was unavailable. (The Black Tux did not respond to a request for comment.) At that point, he had to rush out and order a brand new tuxedo from Friar Tux, a rival marriage-focused upstart. “Obviously at that time, like, my wife now is like, freaking out, you know?” he said. “You planned your whole wedding with colors.” Fortunately, the quickly ordered new suit worked and Mr. Willis looked dashing on his wedding day.

This stress before marriage is something that even I have experienced. For my wedding last August, I ordered a bespoke double-breasted suit from a tailor in New York who produces in Italy. The finished suit was held up by customs amid the pandemic for weeks and arrived, frustratingly, a month after my wedding. I plan to finally wear it to a friend’s wedding this summer.

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