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Jos Bank vs. Men's Warehouse

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by JohnMS, Jun 16, 2005.

  1. JohnMS

    JohnMS Senior member

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    In some previous post, someone asked about the quality comparison between Jos Bank and Men's Warehouse.

    Although I refuse to enter into Men's Warehouse, I have purchased some items from Jos Bank and have gone in there on occasion with a friend.

    Their top-of-the-line suit is what they call Signature Gold. Priced at $1,295, this suit is continually on sale (as are most, if not all, items at Jos Bank). Even at half off, this suit is overpriced in my opinion as it is a half-canvas suit.

    I've purchased their non-iron shirts and have been pleased with them. Only buy them at half-off during Christmas then they are a better value. The buttondown collars lay particularly well, but no single-needle tailoring in this shirt.

    Salespersons are very aggressive, way too aggressive for me and for the most part not very knowledgable.

    All in all, I think Jos Bank has its place. It's not top-of-the-line, but they do sell decent clothing that if on sale, can be used in a pinch.
     
  2. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    I say that this contest is like two fat kids wrestling. At the end of the day, there is no "winner". There are just two fat kids. Men's Wearhouse sells dreck for a little less than does Jos. A. Banks. That's what it boils down too. Seriously, if I really, really, needed a cheap suit in a pinch, and only had access to retail, I would go to Macys and pick up something by Calvin Klein (the new, cheap, black label collection.) The cut is adequate (though the workmanship is sorely lacking), and the suits cost about the same as a "mid level" Mens Wearhouse suit.
     
  3. StevenRocks

    StevenRocks Senior member

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    Both MW and JAB server their purpose; they are the last of the old-school comodity menswear stores that used to be in every downtown and early shopping center before the department stores and discount chains started taking the business. They're just the chain version of that old format.

    I don't shop at either one, but if I was 35-55 and didn't care a lot about fashion or spending gobs of money to get clothed, I could see myself as a customer.
     
  4. bachbeet

    bachbeet Senior member

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    All I know is that I really like the 3 shirts I purchased from JAB recently. At $60, well worth it. And, I've never bought anything at MW.
     
  5. aybojs

    aybojs Senior member

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    I just started working at a Jos. A Bank two months ago, for foot-in-the-industry-door purposes, and it's interesting seeing both sides of the fence.

    Our customer base mainly consists of people from whom suit shopping is a hassle, rather than an enjoyment, and they just want something convenient, servicable, and cheap. Nothing's interesting or particularly appealing, but everything is at least wearable, comes in a large range of sizes (we get lots of people who wear 46-50 long/extra long and can't find clothing anywhere else), can be tailored quickly, and is readily on sale. I wouldn't shop there on my own prerogative, but the store has its mainstream niche.

    I agree that there needs to be more knowledge taught to the sales staff, but this is really an epidemic in the retail clothing industry as a whole. I've went into this before, but after applying for a sales job at 30-40 clothing stores of all ranges, I can say confidently that the process does not at all screen for competence or interest in clothing, only retail experience. A teenager who has worked at the Gap, or even Target, for 2-3 summers is far more likely to get hired than a clothing fan with a lot of knowledge, but no prior retail history. For what it's worth, Jos. A Bank was the only store where I had interviews that actually discussed clothing outside of "have you worked in a clothing store before?" Perhaps this is why I've only very rarely interacted with a salesman at a retail clothing chain who could come close to holding his own with the average SF poster.

    I can't speak too much to the reputation of Jos. A Bank having aggressive salesmen, as I try to avoid contributing to that myself as much as possible. We're trained to greet a customer upon entry and offer help if they want it or back off and wait quietly if they don't. Most do want to be walked through, as the demographic would suggest. The commission system isn't cutthroat like that of some of the department stores (no payback on draw, for instance), and I imagine that only the most inept salespeople would think a quick sale under duress is preferable to having a customer feel comfortable enough to offer repeat business. My bet is that Jos. A Bank's unusually aggressive marketing campaigns contribute to that feeling as much as or more than the sales staff.

    Though this is just my first experience working retail, I'd be happy to offer any other observations about the store if anyone wants.
     
  6. AlanC

    AlanC Senior member

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    I've never really bought anything at either place, although I do have a JAB shirt that I got cheap at a consignment store. It's a decent utility shirt, but is likely to be moved out of the lineup before too much longer.

    Anyway, I've looked around JAB a few times and I think one could put together a decent conservative business outfit there. They do carry Allen Edmonds and some of their ties aren't too bad. I did go there once to buy some linen handkerchiefs to use as pocket squares. The quality was so obviously lacking I immediately left and bought some at Brooks Brothers instead. When all is said and done, the best option is to spend a little more and buy at Brooks on sale. Still, I think JAB offers some okay stuff.

    Men's Warehouse on the other hand, is a complete loss. I went there with a friend when we were both at an out of town conference. He was speaking and had forgotten his tie. He immediately went to MW because he knew they would be able to match his sportcoat, etc. We went and they had all these horrific geometric and abstract ties the salesmen kept bringing out. I really don't think it would be possible to shop at MW and put together anything that really looks decent at all.

    In this battle, Jos A Bank wins hands down.
     
  7. Kaga

    Kaga Senior member

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    This would be like a Kitchen Stadium battle between Ronald McDonald and Colonel Sanders.
     
  8. alchimiste

    alchimiste Senior member

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    Why would you need to be knowledgeable about good clothes if it's not what you have for sale?
     
  9. The_Foxx

    The_Foxx Senior member

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    JohnMS--
    You're not shopping for a new suit at the moment, are you? If so, post or PM me your size-- I'd be glad to post a few gems you might be interested in, at a severe discount (from some of my favorite trusted sellers)

    Russ
     
  10. Horace

    Horace Senior member

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    I had a few things from Bank in the 80's. They were a "mid-Atlantic" type place back then -- and I think the quality was good. They had a large catalog trade. Haven't been in since, but I think their stuff is at least conservatively styled enough that the guy who's going to buy a few suits doesn't have to replace them 5 or 10 years later with changing fashion.
     
  11. stache

    stache Senior member

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    This is kind of a long story but I recently hand washed two Jos. Banks merino polo sweaters (tag said dry clean only). Both sweaters had tiny holes show up after they dried and had to be discarded. I had the same problem with a Gap merino sweater last winter. At first I thought it must be a moth hole but now I'm wondering if there is occasional weakness in the yarn of lesser quality sweaters. I haven't run across this problem before but I'm new to merino. Comments?
     
  12. Stu

    Stu Senior member

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    I think we talked about those Signature Gold suits here and figured out they were made by Hickey Freeman. JFWIW.
     
  13. quill

    quill Senior member

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    (aybojs @ June 17 2005,09:02) I agree that there needs to be more knowledge taught to the sales staff
    Why would you need to be knowledgeable about good clothes if it's not what you have for sale?
    Not to be disrespectful, alchimiste, but that's a cheap shot. aybojs was willing to speak up, in what could certainly be considered a potentially "hostile" environment here, and offer his honest opinion, while not necessarily disagreeing that jbanks quality is not on par with other apparel companies. Nonetheless, I think he explained fairly well what jbank attempts to do (whether or not they succeed). His or anyone's efforts to be knowledgeable in apparel are to be congratulated, not denigrated.
     
  14. shoreman1782

    shoreman1782 Senior member

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    As others have said, they serve their purpose - aybojs, thanks for the perspective.

    A JosABank suit was my first out of college a couple of years ago. Navy, three button, pleated pants. Not great, but perfect for my needs at the time - and $100+alterations from an outside tailor.

    Never bought from MW - though I did try there when I bought that Bank suit. I think I was put off by all their "house brands" marketed as different makers.
     
  15. marc237

    marc237 Senior member

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    The observation that the vast majority of men find clothes shopping a hassle rather than a pleasure is dead on. For that market, I think both serve a function well. While I am not in that category, I had shopped at both before I learnt more.

    I think Banks has a slightly more "American" feel while M-W has a slightly more European-feel (at least the NY ones). The M-W often will feature more in the way of a more casual line, while I find Banks will hew toward a more "Trad." look.

    I tend to think that in a pinch (for example, business trip and lost luggage), I would find a Jos. A. Bank fine and reliable. In contrast, M-W would be more hit and miss for an emergency shopping purchase. I think part of this is that the Bank clothing is a bit more staid in design and has a wider selection of conservative sports coats, slacks, suits, and ties.

    From the point of view of construction, while neither are great, I give the edge to Banks. For example, I had a sport coat from M-W on which the lining fell after a couple of dry cleanings. The tailor attributed it to the glue on the fusing giving out. I have a navy blazer from Bank that is still holding up fine after 10 years.
     
  16. aybojs

    aybojs Senior member

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    I don't think alchimiste was taking a cheap shot. He's right in the practical sense; that it doesn't help them out much to go over the details of high quality construction techniques if they don't actually apply to the merchandise. If I did get asked by a customer about canvas front suits, I'd be really surprised to see said customer even shopping there. If I did get asked, I'd explain as much as I know about canvassing and offer my honest observation that stores like Jos. A Bank cater to different niche that values convenience and price over high-end craftsmanship. It doesn't come up from customers, though, and most salesmen don't need to know these details.

    The worry on my part re: the underemphasis on clothing knowledge beyond the basics like sizing and fabric types is that it extends past mere salesmen at entry level stores and results in managers and high end salesmen who don't know anything about their expensive products because all their past experience derives from folding t-shirts at the Gap, and they didn't have any sort screening for this knowledge in the hiring process. I don't feel like going into a rant here, but when your average internet hobbyist can run circles around your average professional Barney's or Saks menswear salesman in terms of clothing knowledge, something's wrong. I think this would be a good topic for another thread, and since I have to leave for work in a bit I'll stop digressing.

    Anyways, the gist of what I'm saying is that the nature of the mainstream market allows the industry to get away with being complacently ignorant about clothing, be it at the low or high ends. It's not so much the fault of your average salesman so much as it is the status quo that allows them to get hired and get by without accumulating sufficient knowledge of the subject.
     
  17. quill

    quill Senior member

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    Thanks, aybojs. I certainly understood the intent of what alchimiste stated, and it's clear you understood it as well. I simply mean that even in an environment where you may not need to use a superior knowledge of apparel, having it doesn't hurt, and can always help you help others better...or advance yourself, of course. To resign oneself to "not bothering" because the company doesn't bother to offer quality just adds even more to its already heavy burden of poor quality and product ignorance. Buck the status quo. Be different. Learn more. Demand more of yourself. Surprise someone. And yeah, if need be, surpass your superiors who don't know diddly. That's all I'm sayng.
     
  18. arkirshner

    arkirshner Well-Known Member

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    You regular and long rise guys just don't know what its like to go shopping and find that on every pant you put on the belt is way above your waist.


    Jos Bank makes short rise pants, gabardines in 16 colors 14 colors in the better gabardine (signature) line,8 colors in better line tropical weaves, 4 colors in better line hearingbones, and plads and tartans and seersucker and madras and flannels and chinos and cords. And in pleats and flat front.

    The current Brooks Bros catalog has NONE in short rise.

    Other than Bank there are few makers of short rise pants and those that make them eg. Corbin , Oritsky, Berle have a very sparse selection. While Bank's regular line is nothing to write home about Bank's better "signature" line is as good or better than what Corbin et al. are making today.

    For the first 35 years of my life, while the pants to my suit fit , pretty much the only other pants I could find that fit were jeans.

    I appreciate Jos Bank.

    Patrick Tolbert (ptolbert) who works in the Waco TX Bank store and is a regular on the Ask Andy site says Bank's best line ,signature gold, is made at the same facility as Zegna. While we know that the same facility can turn out different grades of clothes the only comparison of Bank to that warehouse is that both are sucessful marketers.
     
  19. dokomoy

    dokomoy Member

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    I bought my first suit at Men's Warehouse. I was 16 and needed a suit for job interviews, as well as for formal family get togethers. All the money I had came in the form of allowance and birthday money so I didn't want to spend more than $100 on a suit. In that capacity MW is adequate.
     
  20. bachbeet

    bachbeet Senior member

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    arkirshner: As for the short rise, you might try Jon at FIH and his Prandina suits. The Pants that go with the suits typically have a shorter rise. Very high quality for a reasonable price. And Jon gives great service.
     

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