A New Take on Rentals

The_Black_Tux_1

A few months ago I was contacted by the young owners of a start-up business aiming to provide quality tuxedo rentals in the US by mail.  Their company is called The Black Tux and their business model is to offer higher quality rentals than mainstream renters at a lower cost.  They include free shipping (both ways) (US only) and deliver the garments a full week in advance of the event.  My initial thought was that the fitting process would be a stumbling block but they’ve got that covered.  Customers can either get measured by a local tailor or they can follow the site’s detailed yet easy-to-follow instructions on how to measure themselves (complete with video demonstrations).  Then if for some reason the tuxedo doesn’t fit correctly when it arrives, the company will refund a portion of the cost to have it altered by a local tailor or they may even be able to send a replacement.

It’s great to see a tuxedo rental company emphasizing quality and traditional styling to its customers rather than just focusing on price and novelty.  And judging by the amount of business they’re doing the concept seems to be catching on.  They were even featured in this month’s GQ.

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Postscript

February 2014

I tried out Black Tux’s rentals for myself and was very impressed.  Check out my review here.

9 Comments

  1. David V

    “Classic” is a 2 button notched lapel. Low cut trousers. High cut vests. No cummerbunds. Shoes are all open lace.

    Reply
    1. Stuff

      In fairness to them, they have a product/service and need to sell it. It’s marketing more than anything else. If peak lapel, one button, waistcoat were in fashion, that would be the classic tuxedo.

      Reply
    2. Hal

      They do do single button peak lapel dinner jackets too, I see, in black and blue (a bit lighter than I might expect for midnight blue in truth).

      Whilst I agree it is a little sad that their entry level dinner suit is notched lapel and two button (would it cost that much more to have a single button) and there is no shawl lapel option, as Stuff points out, they are in the business of renting to the general market. The ‘Classic Tuxedo’ is what most rental places will hire you, even if it doesn’t look that great to our eyes. There is a market for it and I can’t blame them for catering to it.

      Reply
  2. David V

    But my point is that what is being “sold” to the general market is not “Classic”.

    Reply
  3. William Wright

    I am so in love with this idea. I do believe there is a market for tuxedo rentals and if I had not needed one all my life for varied events, I might be persuaded to use them. I think they deserve all the luck in the world for this effort. I have been a big proponent of a man owning his tuxedo and still do believe this wholeheartedly. But there are cases where one can be caught in a bind and need a tux right away or a week at the outset. There is where the firm can be very useful in solving a last minute problem. I’m hoping they succeed and teach other rental firms that in order to stay competitive, you cannot keep renting the same garments over and over. I know from experience of buying used tuxedos earlier in my life that these garments usually are at the end of their life and will not hold up for a long time. Hopefully the Black Tux will show the rest that staying up on condition as well as style is so important.

    Reply
    1. Kate

      I am wondering if the “what the market wants” concept isn’t perhaps a bit overrated? Whilst I am not an expert on evening attire for men – I do know the basics – I started my post-uni career in marketing/PR, and I will never forget my first boss who told me that “most people don’t know what they want, they want to be told what to want.” I have found this to be quite accurate in general, and I expect it to be even more true in the formal dress market. The average man and woman (wedding fora are eye opening and frightening places) knows very little about male evening dress, and typically cannot distinguish a peak lapel from a step lapel. Hence, I wonder if this lack of knowledge couldn’t be utilised to advertise classic styles to a broader demographic group?

      Reply
  4. The Black Tux (@theblacktux)

    Thanks for the post Peter! Much appreciated.

    David – I certainly agree with your assessment about what a true ‘classic’ tuxedo is. One day we hope to be able to carry them. Hal and Stuff are correct. Our goal is to give a higher quality rental option to a larger market, so we carry what that market is looking for. For now, perhaps we should change our product title to something other than ‘classic.’

    And Hal, our product photos make the midnight blue look pretty blue, but in reality it is almost indistinguishable from black.
    -Andrew

    Reply
    1. Kate

      My apologies, my question about creating a need via marketing above was supposed to be directed at “The Black Tux”.

      Reply
  5. Nickolas

    I applaud the attempt, but am disappointed in the “classic” nomenclature as well. I understand that this is a business, and a business needs to make money, but I’m tired of the “it’s just business” excuse being used for everything from terminating loyal employees to mafia hits.

    If The Black Tux isn’t willing to offer a true “classic” set, the least they can do is stop calling what they do offer “classic.” It’s hard enough for well-meaning men to do their best to work their way through the rules of a fading tradition without “experts” tickling on their opera slippers and telling them it’s raining.

    Reply

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