A (Very) Honest Article About Suitsupply
Not so long ago I wrote an article about the Worst Shoe Brands in the World. Suitsupply offers shoes that are also in that list not because of their quality but the conditions they are in and their value. If you follow the blog you probably know that I have an affinity for Suitsupply’s overall value and quality. However after experiencing the Suitsupply Experience as a customer AND an employee I felt the need to write this article.
Suitsupply is a business with the sole purpose to make money. In order to do that they train their employees to romance the products, upsell and cross-sell like mad and focus on a lot of numbers. These numbers will define your happiness (or sadness) as an employee and the overall mood of the store. What is worse however is the predatory instinct that they have towards you as a customer. All these sales techniques aim to extract the maximum amount of money from you every single time.
Today I am here to talk about this “Suitsupply Experience”. What it means, what they do and of course how to be aware of what they try to do. Because we are not just numbers and nobody should use psychological tricks on us.
Disclaimer: Please note that this is my Personal Experience from Suitsupply Stockholm. Things may differ in your area.
Previous Suitsupply Reviews
Now don’t get me wrong, most of the things you will buy from Suitsupply are excellent value. They are not top tier as they mass produce them in China, but pretty good. Especially in Stockholm there is no company that will offer you Half-Canvas suits for 300 Euros.
In fact, my favorite suit is an MTM Double Breasted Navy Suit and I have multiple others from them. Here’s all the reviews so far on Misiu Academy:
- Suitsupply MTM Suit Part 1
- Suitsupply MTM Suit Part 2
- MTM Flannel Pants Review
- Suitsupply Alpaca Scarf
- Pure Cashmere Overcoat
I talked a lot there about the actual experience and how they treat you nicely and with excitement. This is not exactly the case but more on it later. Let us dive in together.
Let’s Start With The Good Things
First of all, the quality of most of the things you will get is rather good. New items arrive frequently and they carefully update the wardrobe and the mannequins.
If someone finds a damaged or dirty garment, they will remove it from the floor and send it back. Suitsupply seems to be rather lenient and understandable as well when it comes to returns. As long as you didn’t mess it up yourself or you don’t bring a pair of pants from 3 years ago it is fine.
Sales reps will be mostly happy to talk with you and offer a glass of water or coffee, but this is also a trick to make you feel welcome. What I mean by this is judge by yourself if they really want to or it is just a sleight of hand. I always brought coffee and tea with a smile to guests but there were times it was just business.
If you work in one of the good cities your salary will be great. As a customer you will feel that the staff is mostly knowledgeable and the tailors are very competent. The MTM Experience is superb in Stockholm and dare I say one of the best in the world. Ted is professional and fantastic.
Another good thing is the pricing and value which I already covered before. I can recommend their shirts, basic knitwear and suits as excellent value. Customer service is rather helpful and will forward complaints or praise daily to the shop.
Tip: Curious about all the different Suitsupply Suit Fits? Read the Full Guide!
The Not So Good Part
Oh boy here we go. I frankly do not know where to start so I will just type.
Let’s talk about quality once more. The sewing of the buttons is often sub-par and you will often find yourself going back to fix them. Some of the buttons will break in time as they can be structurally weak. As for the shoes I recommend you read the guide on the first paragraph once more. Short story is they often use real pairs instead of try-on pairs which end up damaged and used. However they will sell them to you like new.
Some sales reps do not want to be there. Others will be incredibly friendly when you meet them as a customer but when you work with them they often forget how to smile. Many will think they are better than you and try to avoid the “chores” like selling a measly pair of socks for you.
As for the store manager, I think I will reserve an entire paragraph just for him.
Suitschool – Brainwash, Cult Or A Learning Experience?
Every few weeks new Suitsupply employees go through a week of intense training called “Suitschool“. In Europe they hold it in the Netherlands in the most remote, barren city called Zaltbommel.
The trainers will teach you everything about fabrics, leathers, shoes and the features of all suits. You will also learn about the company, the owner and of course get hands on experience with pinning and alterations.
Here is where the true suitsupply experience stems from. The trainers are seasoned veterans with enormous experience that will teach you that Suitsupply is god and queen. According to them there is nothing that comes even close. Honestly for the price and availability they are pretty correct.
However they teach you to romance the product so much and that every customer is an opportunity. Does he come for a suit? Sell him a pocket square, a tie, two shirts and a pair of socks otherwise nobody is happy.
Not only that but they will attempt to teach you how to make suitsupply combinations. Ridiculous colors and fabrics that you would never wear yourself, just because it is the “Suitsupply way”. That is my personal opinion though as I would never wear that “Giro Inglese” Jacket or white pants with everything.
Pass The Tests Or Bye Bye
In the end there is a written and oral exam. The former has a maximum score of 100 and has to do with fabrics, different lines and specifications while the latter is a simulation of a client/employee interaction.
If you score low or they deem you are not a good fit for the company you are out. If you do you go back and begin work in your designated store for 8 weeks of live training. I will not go into detail about that as I do not care anymore. They teach you more in depth about the same things, especially pinning for alterations.
Sales Techniques Extraordinaire
Here we are finally at the moment you have all been waiting for. We are going to talk about some of the actual sales techniques they use to the extreme.
Leading The Sale
First and most importantly their job is to lead the sale. A customer walks in with some (or none) idea about what he wants. The sales rep has the task of leading the sale which means neutralizing the customer and “leading” him towards the product.
There’s nothing wrong with an employee being firm and knowing what you want or what is your correct size. They taught us to learn to recognize sizes, fits and body types and often we have to say “No” this is not going to work. However if you are really passive or hate shopping this can lead to more problems as they can take advantage of you.
Connecting To A Personal Level
How many times have you met someone you don’t really like, something feels wrong or you just don’t want to talk. Then suddenly they say that they come from the same village like you or went to the same school. Immediately when you find a common topic that taps into emotion things change.
This is not different. They will ask you questions to try and connect with you, ranging from the weather to “It’s finally Friday! What will you do tonight?“.
This is a big one, as the store manager will talk about it every single morning. Approach them, greet them, offer them coffee and find ways to soften them up and connect with them.
Of course some people are actually nice and care, but more often than not it is business. Just be aware of this psychological technique.
Up-Selling – Putting The More Expensive Suit On First
Up-Selling means that instead of selling you a 300$ Suit I persuade you to buy something more expensive instead.
Here’s where the fun begins. Say you are a customer and you want a navy blue suit for work. You even state your budget around the 300$ of the Napoli or entry level Lazio line.
Unless you are very specific, the sales rep will have you try a jacket off the more premium lines such as the Sienna. It has a very nice S130 fabric usually and feels great however it costs much more. Then they make you try a lower line jacket such as a Lazio which more often than not does not feel as luxurious.
The idea behind this is that very often you will want to go back to the more luxurious feeling and even break your budget.
My advice? Learn the fits, learn the prices and learn to say no. If you should not be buying 200$ over your budget or can’t then simply don’t.
Cross-Selling Is Their Obsession
Cross-Selling is different than Up-Selling. In simple terms Cross-Selling means that you buy a suit but I persuade you to also buy a tie and a pocket square, a new shirt and a fresh pair of socks. Pretty much I try to sell you additional products.
I despise this one as it made my blood boil when I worked there. You will read more about it in the KPI section later. Many times you go into a shop to buy something and end up getting something extra that the salesman recommended.
This is their mission, their crusade and probably most important sales technique. Let’s break it down in an example and I will bold all the techniques.
John walks in Suitsupply looking for a new navy business suit as he just got a new job. Salesman Kostas reports for duty and approaches him. They both go through together a few options and find a suit John likes.
First Kostas finds the proper fit if possible and sends John into the fitting room to try on the pants. Kostas then proceeds to tell John:
“John, I will bring you one of our fitting shirts so I do not pin your own shirt and damage it. You will also get a feel of our shirt fits. Also for the proper pant length let’s put some shoes on. What’s your regular size and what kind of shoes do you usually wear?”
Do you see the pattern here? Subconsciously the sales rep will lead the sale and make you try on the items. Maybe you will like the shirt since it is non-iron and you are lazy. The whole idea is that they try to put you in the mindset of buying something extra.
A continuation of the above technique is closing the sale. When John changes back to his normal clothes the sales rep will rush to a table and make some combinations asking questions to ensure they take more of your money.
“John, how do you intend to wear this suit? Do you have a pocket square? You need at least one if you are not wearing a tie. I also brought some shoes that match and you always need a fresh pair of socks right?”
Do not fall for this unless you need it. There’s nothing wrong with a new shirt or a pocket square. However their ties and pocket square are really bland and average that I cannot recommend them. At least they are affordable for 30$ but I would never buy them.
The bottom line is do not let them make you buy things you don’t want or don’t need. Yes, you absolutely need a pocket square with your suit. But if you have already 10 at home do you really need one more just because he said so?
Learn to be immune to the mind games and make your own decision.
Alterations Are The Devil
This is a very controversial topic. While they teach you in Suitschool to do the minimum amount of alterations they are still a very important part of Suitsupply. They have a fast return time for common things like pants length, waist and seat and body darts. Most alterations will take 2-3 business days to perform.
However I noticed many customers having absurd requests especially about tightness. For the love of baby Jesus, stop requesting to have your pants extremely tapered. It reduces the life of your garment dramatically.
Nothing wrong with tapering the legs of a more regular fit but don’t overdo it. A good indication is the calf area. If you sit and your pants lift up but get stuck on your calves the tapering is too much. Always take a note on your pockets as extreme pulling and wrinkling means the size is wrong. Or your hips are bigger.
Lastly, if it feels like spandex, it will break and the pants are as good as dead. The bottom line with all this is that alterations cost money. Spending 50$ on alterations is not uncommon and you should consider it for your perfect fit.
A Sales rep will often tell you I will take the waist in, taper the thigh and the lower leg, hem the pants and take in the side seams of the jacket and shorten it. Bang 100$ of alterations. Go for a Custom Made in this case.
Custom Made This, Custom Made That
Custom Made allows you to choose a fabric and a fit you like and create your own suit or separates. The good thing is they save your measurements and it includes alterations. In many cases it is worth it going Custom Made to actually save money from a RTW suit.
The Suitsupply Experience however means that almost every time Custom Made will come up. On the slightest tightness at the hip or mix and match opportunity they will ask you if you are in a rush. And then will try to sell you a Custom Made.
Unless you are very specific about what you want or have a special body type there’s no imminent need to go that route. Especially for the latter scenario I recommend Made To Measure instead.
Also make sure to ask them to double check the fabric you want. Often they are sold out and you just wasted 30-45 minutes of your time for nothing. Boohoo.
Additional Pants For Everyone
Many of us wear our pants until they give up. The sales rep will always recommend buying an additional pair of pants “to rotate and prolong their life” if you buy a traveller or a Custom Made.
It is a very valid point as pants are usually the ones to break first. You can rotate them and increase their life span. However if your budget is low that day or you are buy something from their NOOS line (Never Out Of Stock) you can always come back later.
Do not let them persuade you that it is the end of the world if you do not buy additional trousers. If you can afford it however it is a good thing to consider.
One of the most important part of the suitsupply experience and sales techniques are the key phrases. I covered a lot of them already in the previous sections but let’s talk about a couple more.
The more time passes, the harder it is to close the sale. A common phrase for the sales rep is to say “Shall we go for it?”. It’s purpose is to complete the sale and move on to the next parts.
“What will you wear it with“is yet another way to cross-sell you items. They will proceed to bring you some styling options especially if you are uncertain how to match colors.
“Try that sweater on, you might as well since you are here“. Similar to the above.
The Elevator Pitch
Good lord this one is fun. The first question they will probably ask you right after welcoming you is if it is your first time in the store. That and open questions that you won’t be able to answer with a yes or no. It is an opportunity for them to show you around the store and tell you what Suitsupply does.
In 30 seconds they need to show you the store and its different sections and find out what you want. It is absolutely pivotal for them to do that. If you live in Sweden, Estonia or some country where people do not want help it is extra funny.
They will approach in an extremely fake manner which is borderline hilarious at this stage of my life. It makes sense, how are you going to work for 12 hours, greet 100 customers and be genuine and excited?
Just be aware, if you want to browse around and be alone just tell them nicely. They also do their job and you don’t have to be rude like many people. Please don’t be that obnoxious customer.
Italian Leather & Italian Mills Are The Answer To The Universe
Just spur out Vitale Barberis Canonico or Angelico and Carlo Barbera and you are golden. Your credibility goes through the roof like you mention Brunello Cucinelli or something. We get it the fabrics are great but it is the construction that makes them good.
Shoes however are a whole different game. Most of the people that walk in and buy shoes there are clueless or want a quick fix. Ask a sales rep and they will rave about Antonio Maurizi or Italian leathers. There are no half sizes in boots, there is no name for the lasts and they honestly won’t be able to give you a good explanation why you should buy these or what makes them better.
To their credit, they will recommend another brand if you can’t find what you want and will be transparent that the construction is not good for winter and rain. Ask them what is a storm welt however and they will roll their eyes in confusion.
The Store Manager & The Shop Culture
So in the Suitsupply I worked there was this “Bro” culture. Essentially you had to breathe and live Suitsupply and go out with the “boyz” and get hammered every now and then. There was a clear preference towards Swedish people and a misogynistic approach by the manager towards the hardworking ladies.
If you do not drink alcohol like me and don’t like to party you are immediately a castaway. The manager once called me “passive aggressive” right before he fired me and another person for not performing well enough. More on that later.
He is also walking with some swagger around the shop giving bro fists and those heavy bro-handshakes. Other employees spend more time looking at themselves in the mirror or hiding to play with their mobile phones. I don’t blame them because 90% of the working hours are more mind numbing than a lobotomy.
Work started at 8:30 am sharp and you had to be at least 10 minutes earlier so you can be in the mindset. Late or forgot to punch in? Grab a penalty and lose money. Three strikes and you are out. Are you an outcast? Go work in casual and do the chores nobody wants to.
One thing I hate is a bully at work. And I know when I see one. Something even worse however is a bully with the gift of the silver tongue. Nonetheless people like this get what they deserve and with the store performing like it is the axe usually comes at the top first.
Wear & Breathe Suitsupply
I get it you work there and you need to wear their clothes. However you are not allowed to use ANYTHING else from a tie to a tie clip that is not Suitsupply. Which is funny because absolutely none of them wears Suitsupply shoes.
They will be fast to castigate you immediately though if you wear something you shouldn’t. Which means spending your own money to buy their clothes because the 1-2 suits you get for work are not enough.
Next time you are at Suitsupply Stockholm, ask them about the shoes they are wearing. Let’s count how many are wearing Morjas or Myrqvist or Crockett & Jones. Leave a comment down below.
You, Dear Reader, Are Just A Number
My friend and sartorial enthusiast. Yes you reading this article right now. You are just a number to them and more specifically a KPI. KPI means “Key Performance Indicator” and its purpose is to quantify and help visualize numbers and success.
The store has 6 main ones which are:
- Total Sales: Total Sales for the day
- Average $ Per Customer: How much money does the customer spend on average
- Items Per Customer: How many items a customer bought on average
- Conversion Rate: A percentage of visitors that made a purchase
- Total Visitors: How many entered the store
I am very sorry but I forgot the 6th. It doesn’t really matter. They also track religiously other smaller indicators such as shirts per suit, shoes and obsessively look at the leaderboard of sales. There is an obsession with being top dog but even more important meeting the main KPIs. I am not aware if each store has their own but for our shop the average $ per customer had to be around 280$ while the Items Per Customer (IPC) over 1.6.
Conversion rate was a failure under 18% and they even have trackers under the door to measure how many go in and out. Almost 1 out of every 5 visitors needs to buy something.
This obsession is the weakest point even though this is a business that has strong targets. The focus on IPC is so strong they will fire you for it. Actually it is even higher for each individual at 1.8 which means you have to sell on average 2 items to each customer.
It is all you will think about every single day working there.
No I Really Mean You Are A Wallet
So a very interesting fact is that the store manager told me we should not continue together because of the low visitors during winter. He gave me a piece of paper that had the title “Resignation“, not “Termination“. When we pointed it out he said “It’s the same“. I have not forgotten about it and still plan to contact HR about his behavior.
Not only that but he also announced our resignation while we were not in the store. And then proceeded to hire more people. Honesty is a virtue my friend.
However the one thing that riled me up the most was the following. In Sweden we get our salary on the 25th of each month. During December 2019 that was Christmas. The first customer comes in and the store manager tells us in the in-ear radio with a sinister upbeat voice:
“Hi gentlemen, it is Christmas and the first customer is in. It is Christmas so everyone has been paid so approach them and try to get all the money out of their pockets!“.
In absolute disgust, I continued my day and finished 3 days later forever. All they think is how to extract the maximum amount of money from you.
The Suitsupply Experience Is A Double Edged Sword
First of all let me remind you that this was my personal experience as an employee after being a customer in one specific shop. It might be different for you. And this will not change the fact that their suits are excellent value for the quality and money. However, I will be looking at alternatives now such as Made To Measure and the emergence of Pini Parma. They look to be fantastic although a little pricier.
Most of the people are highly trained in sales and psychological tricks. Most of them are subtle yet powerful so I sure hope I opened your eyes a bit and gave you food for thought. If you have money and you like your ego pampered then go ahead the suitsupply experience is perfect for you.
If you are however naive or fear conflict they might easily take advantage of you. Stick to your budgets, have an upper ceiling and don’t let them sell you something you don’t need. And for god’s sake stay away from their shoes.
The Suitsupply Experience – Conclusion
This should do it I think. I probably forgot some things here and there but you get the idea. I think you will be able to make a smarter educated decision next time you are in a Suitsupply Store.
The Suitsupply Experience is a grand over-hyped concept for a brand that is becoming a one stop for everything. Usually when you go to a restaurant and they have way too many dishes, you know they are average at everything instead of good at a few things. I hope it does not get to that.
I really hope you enjoyed this and I would really want to see your comments and thoughts. Please share with me your good or bad experiences as a customer or a worker. I also hope you appreciate my honesty and transparency which is one of my core values. Consider sharing this article to get some exposure and I will see you next week.
Thank you for reading,