In three years, Brooks Brothers will turn 200. Paul Stuart opened its doors for the first time in 1938. The first incarnation of what is now the Mitchells Family of Stores made its debut in Westport, Conn., in 1958.
But the longevity of these retailers is more the exception than the rule.
For decades, stores like these were the backbone of the men’s industry. But as time passed and the country changed radically, a large number of specialty retailers were unable to survive and are now just a footnote in the industry’s history. The stores that have survived and prospered attribute their endurance to their ability to evolve — without losing sight of their history.
“Everything has to move forward — rust will kill you,” said Tom Mastronardi, chief marketing officer for Paul Stuart.
Arnold Aronson, managing director of retail strategies for Kurt Salmon Associates, agrees: “On a macro level, it has certainly helped that the men’s business has been on one of the more healthy and growing retail categories as men have become more fashion-conscious and eclectic in both their business and casual attire,” he said. “But the major reason that has allowed some, not all, of the venerable men’s retailers to survive
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