Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Men's Fashion Retailers Looking Down Road to Different World/notes Walter B.D. Hickey

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Men's Fashion Retailers Looking Down Road to Different World/notes Walter B.D. Hickey

Article excerpt

"We're looking down the road at a different world," said Walter B.D. Hickey, chairman and chief policy officer of Hickey-Freeman Inc., a firm which manufactures fine tailored clothing for men. "We must change, too."

In Oklahoma City as the guest of Rothschild's, Duffy Hickey was showing the spring line of menswear from his firm. Along with this, he expressed his thoughts on today's customer and how or if the retailer is serving that customer.

The Hickey-Freeman Co. was established in 1899 in Rochester, N.Y., which is still its headquarters. From the first, the firm specialized in quality menswear which could compete favorably with the custom tailor's work. This philosophy continues today at Hickey-Freeman, which became a subsidiary of the Hartmarx Corp. in 1964.

"Young people don't spend their money the way their folks did," Hickey said, "but they still are discriminating shoppers who look for quality which will last.

"I think there still is a place for dressing - and dressing well. We as retailers must figure out the way to make shopping convenient for these customers."

To enhance this convenience, Hickey-Freeman is developing a series of four videos, the first of which is finished and available to stores carrying that brand of menswear.

"One is on the balance and fit of a garment," Hickey explained, "and the others will be on the construction of a suit, on the construction and fit of trousers, and on how to special order a suit.

"More than 17 percent of the Hickey-Freeman business is in special orders, and this is on the increase. Special ordering gives the retailer the advantage of not loading down his in-store inventory and it gives the customer the advantage of almost designing his own suit.

"When I go to a store for a personal appearance, I have some 200 fabric swatches for suits and about 100 for sport coats, along with suits and sport coats. A man can find a style he likes and then have it made up in a fabric of his choice. A tailor is standing by to assure proper fit, of course. …

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