Ousted Men's Wearhouse founder launches tux-rental start-up
Men’s Wearhouse founder and ex-CEO George Zimmer unveiled Tuesday his latest idea in the menswear market: Generation Tux, a start-up for tuxedo rentals.
The “I guarantee it” entrepreneur earlier this year also launched an on-demand, app-driven service called zTailors, where tailors make house or office calls. Prices for services are set by the company, and zTailors takes a 35% commission.
The Generation Tux site, which offers “highest quality” tuxedo rentals “without ever visiting a store,” has as its tagline “A George Zimmer Company.” It is powered by Salesforce, which is also an investor.
George Zimmer hasn’t given up on zTailors, which is operational in several cities, but says it’s still losing money. He expects Generation Tux to be a more immediate hit, though, telling the New York Times, “I think it’s the best idea I’ve ever had.”
The approach mirrors that of Rent the Runway, which will loan its customers $1.35 billion of couture dresses and other high-end clothing this year, according to Women’s Wear Daily. And Zimmer’s former company sees a lot of business in the tuxedo space, with $443 million in revenue in tux rentals last year, an increase from 2012’s $406 million.
Like Rent the Runway, the company uses on-site dry cleaning to keep things speedy. A tuxedo, shirt, shoes, cuff links and a cummerbund or belt, delivered a week ahead of any event, can be had in hand for $150.
It sounds like Zimmer is aiming squarely for Men's Wearhouse, the retailer he founded in 1973 in Houston with one store. But he says that company is not in his sites per se. “We’re not trying to go after them,” he told the Times. “They happen to be in the way.”
And they happen to not have an easy way to order online, either. Generation Tux, by contrast, has taken full advantage of the web, with a website powered by Salesforce. Customers can enter their measurements for the tailors Zimmer has working at his 200,000-square-foot warehouse in Louisville, KY. RFID tags are sewn in the suits, which have been made especially for Generation Tux rather than commissioned or bought from existing brands.
“Nobody had the idea that it was such a golden egg,” Zimmer told the Times. “Tux rental is enormously profitable, like Microsoft profitability.”
- New York Times George Zimmer Takes On Men’s Wearhouse With Tuxedo Start-Up
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