If you’ve started to research tuxedo or suit rentals for your wedding, you may have come across some options on the internet where you make your selections, send your sizes and your tuxes ship to you about a week before the wedding. One such option, The Black Tux, has gotten some favorable press and has been written about in GQ and Esquire Magazine.
In the spirit of full disclosure, we own a locally-based shop, Vittorio Menswear & Tuxedo in Irondequoit and are competitors to online options like The Black Tux. That said, I recently saw photos of a Rochester wedding where the wedding party wore tuxedos from The Black Tux and quite honestly they looked very good in the images.
While they might be a good option for some, you should understand the pros and cons to using a service like this.
From our perspective, it really comes down to having accurate measurements and an idea of how their tuxes fit because frankly not everyone is built like the models on their website. Their tuxedos tend toward a slim fit which is currently a popular option but, if you look in the mirror and you or your groomsmen aren’t all at their high school weight you may want to consider a store where you can actually try on the tuxedo or suit you have in mind to see how it looks on you.
Local independent tuxedo specialists and to some extent the national chains offer a wider number of tuxedo style and color options. Online retailers present a smaller offering and describe it as a curated collection. Fair enough, but if you’re shopping for just about any other consumer item and you go to one store that has five items and another that has dozens, you clearly have more opportunity to find something that’s a good fit for you in the store with more options.
Online services like The Black Tux rent well-made suits and tuxes featuring Super 100’s fabrics. They sell against the perhaps well-deserved, reputation of the rental tuxedo industry offering poor-quality boxy garments made of polyester. The problem is that myth doesn’t really keep up with the reality of what is available in the rental universe today.
In Rochester, you can realistically spend between $100 and $250 on a tuxedo rental and it’s true that if all you want is the $49.99 special, you’re not likely to receive much in the way of a quality garment (we don’t rent those, by the way). If you’re spending toward the mid to upper end of that price range, you can expect garments that are much more like a purchased suit than a rented tuxedo, with softer fabrics, fitted profiles and designer labels like Ralph Lauren, Joseph Abboud or Calvin Klein.
The Black Tux ships from their warehouse in California so if you’re located on the west coast, it’s probably a little quicker and easier to fix a problem than if you’re on the east coast and are five days ground shipping from Los Angeles. Yes, express shipping is available, but that simply adds cost and complexity to getting a replacement garment if needed. Local options either warehouse their inventory here in Rochester or ship from a warehouse that’s a day away by UPS or FedEx ground.
The fit of a garment is only as good as the measurements provided at the time the order is placed. If a member of your wedding party gains or loses weight, wore bulky clothing or didn’t try on a jacket and pants at their fitting, there may be some adjustments required when the tuxedos or suits arrive. The Black Tux offers a $10 tailoring credit to use if needed but that still means you need to find a tailor shop to make the adjustments. They’re also not in a position to run a replacement garment to your venue to help recover from a mishap like a local provider might.
Tuxes and suits from The Black Tux are their own private label as opposed to national brands like Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, or Joseph Abboud. We don’t have any particular issue with private labels but some people prefer branded products more so it’s not necessarily an apples-to-apples comparison to the branded product. Would you buy athletic shoes that claim to be “just as good” as Nike but didn’t have the label? That’s a personal decision that plays out every day in a variety of retail settings, wedding related or not – some people might and some might not. You just have to be sure your expectations match what each type of provider can deliver.
As far as pricing, The Black Tux leads with a low price of about $100 but that’s just for a jacket and pants. I’ve compared their packages with the things we usually include at our store and it seemed to be more or less a wash when you add a shirt, vest, tie, shoes, etc. Their packages with accessories range from $155 – $205 which is just about what you’d pay at a local provider.
Owning our shop gives me a bias toward supporting local independent retailers who live in the community and have a stake in making Rochester a better place. I admit that I sometimes shop at big box retailers or order a gift from Amazon.com because it seems like an easier option. Online tuxedo retailers like The Black Tux have done a great job presenting themselves favorably in the media and are probably good for some folks especially if they are not near traditional retail options where they can try on, touch and feel the fabrics and colors in person. The key is to ignore the hype, understand what they provide and the limits of their services. Either way, enjoy the planning process and make your wedding a special day for everyone involved.
Matthew McDermott lives in the Highland Park Neighborhood and is the owner of Vittorio Menswear & Tuxedo in Irondequoit. They help Rochester look great for milestone events like weddings, proms and special occasions.