When you walk into A Better Deal Designer Tuxedos & Suits at 369 Bird Rock Ave. in La Jolla, you're greeted with a mix of classic and cutting-edge styles. No one here will tell you the tuxedo is a dying breed. But they will tell you that the market is changing.
"It's changed drastically in regard to what people's needs and wants are," said Janet Klein, who owns the shop with her husband, Jerry. "Suits have come into this industry like a rocket. I don't know if it's just San Diego or California, but men are toning down on formality. A lot of people wanted suits, so we started bringing suits into our store about 10 years ago."
That trend is still going strong, but now colors have been added — blues, grays, burgundies. "I carry five shades of blue," she said. "Last year, grays were gigantic, and they still are. Grays and blues in suits and tuxedos are the most popular."
Klein points out that much of what men want these days is fueled by social media. "A lot of people get their vision from Pinterest. We've had people come in looking for forest-green tuxedos, red tuxedos, and velvet tuxedos, based on all of the social media posts people make."
Sometimes, she adds, the requests are pretty out there, like purple top hats and zoot suits, for example. But if Klein and company don't have it, they can find it. "We know a lot of businesses and suppliers, so we take that extra step to reach out and try to locate the item."
Social media is also responsible for customers wanting multiple cuts instead of the standard regular. Now there's modern fit, slim fit, and ultra-slim fit. Measuring for these various cuts can be a challenge. Klein says it takes a lot of patience and understanding to give a customer what he wants without it representing an ill fit. "We tell them, 'you may want to look like this, but then when you move, the vents in the back of the jacket are splitting open because the coat's too small.' There are those who just don't care, and there are others who like to be educated and dressed more formally, as opposed to the casual trend."
Janet and Jerry Klein have seen a lot of trends come and go in the more than 20 years they've been in La Jolla — since October 1997. In fact, they started out as a resale store, but it just didn't fly. "So we started bringing in product that we had (tuxedos from their former store in Chicago), and the tuxedos started selling. So we thought, we might as well go back and do what we know how to do best. We gradually got rid of all the resale items and started building up this location."
Although she admits the store is not in the most convenient location, it still draws customers from outside La Jolla, including North County and Southeast San Diego. And Klein said she believes the classic black tuxedo will never go away, although manufacturers have modified some features. Full satin lapels have been replaced with satin-trimmed lapels, for example, and other features have been toned down. However, during prom time this year, a big percentage of high-schoolers wore black tuxedos: "They wanted the red carpet look," Klein said.
There are some things she still can't get used to, she laments: "I've never seen a brown shoe with a gray suit in my life, but that has to change because that's all anybody does now — brown shoes with navy, brown shoes with gray ... most people don't even know what a black dress shoe is anymore."
The Kleins have seen store openings and closings around them in Bird Rock, year after year, and are proud they've survived. "The hair stands up on my arms, still, when somebody comes in and tells us how wonderful we are or what a great event they had, or how many compliments they got. We even get teary-eyed sometimes because of what people have to say. It's always appreciated."
A Better Deal Designer Tuxedos & Suits is at 369 Bird Rock Ave. in La Jolla, off La Jolla Blvd. The store sells and rents tuxedos and suits, new or gently worn. (858) 551-6044. abetterdealtuxedo.com
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