A Wedding Nightmare: A Missing Tux Thanks to Shipping Woes

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Grooms with a new reason to palm-sweat: In a banner year for weddings, some custom suit delivery is tighter than ever.

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In March, Mr. Palonsky, a technical program manager at an energy company, ordered a custom two-piece from Indochino, a Canadian clothier known as a go-to for specialized wedding attire. Mr. Palonsky’s groom ensemble—a light blue suit with a toucan-print lining and his fiancée’s name embroidered inside—was produced in China and shipped through Shanghai late last month.

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That’s where things went awry.

In early March, as Covid cases crept up in the Shanghai area, the Chinese government imposed a strict lockdown throughout the city, including its international airport. Outbound shipments from the region—one of the world’s key manufacturing hubs—were instantly backed up. The ripple effects have been significant: In recent weeks, Apple said it could take a sales loss of about $8 billion this quarter due to the lockdowns, while Honeywell said production was down by about half in its Chinese factories.

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The supply-chain snags have been particularly troublesome for the glut of soon-to-be-married American men who ordered custom suits produced abroad—an increasingly common option thanks to the rise of relatively economical direct-to-consumer suit makers like SuitSupply and Indochino. Now they’re unsure if their outfits will arrive before they’re due at the altar. All this in a banner year for brides and grooms: According to a study by The Wedding Reporta market research firm, there will be nearly 2.5 million weddings this year, up from just 1.
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27 million in 2020.

Formal-wear seeking guests are also feeling the crunch. “This isn’t what you want a month or so before your wedding,” said Andy Sowder, 30, who works in logistics in Indianapolis, and experienced delays on a custom Indochino suit for a friend’s wedding this month.

The delivery snafus have spurred men like Mr. Sowder to check the delivery status of their order daily (if not hourly), call Indochino’s customer service hotline incessantly, Tweet at the company and even message its CEO on LinkedIn, all in search of an answer of when they’ll get their precious suit for the big day.

For those with suits in limbo, anxiety levels are high. A wedding is already stressful enough, but they’re now fretting over limited fabric choices, sizes out of stock and poor communication from companies about shipments hanging in limbo. Even after receiving their suits, prospective grooms groused about lengthy logjams in the alterations department. It’s enough to turn the most even-keeled man into a groomzilla.

“It’s just like a huge, huge source of anxiety for me as my wedding day approaches,” said Alexander McCoy, 33, a college student in New York City. He understood that the lockdown was out of Indochino’s control, but said there was a “lack of proactive communication,” about his wedding suit. Fortunately, like most of the men I spoke with, his suit did arrive in time for his wedding this month, though it was quite wrinkled after spending so long in a box. (Mr. Palonsky of Los Angeles also finally received his suit.)

Roughly 35% of Indochino’s business is specifically for weddings. The Vancouver-based label produces its apparel in the Chinese port city of Dailan and ships them to North America via Shanghai. It prides itself on completing a suit in an average of six days, but the shipping snafus meant that customers reported receiving suits well after the company’s standard two- to three-week window.

To stanch the delays, Indochino rerouted its packages through other parts of the world, and CEO Drew Green said the company still had $3.5 million more in sales this quarter than planned. He also said that a small percentage “in the single digits” of its shipments were delayed to the point that they blew the quoted delivery date. “I think there’s been some really good learnings in terms of communication and over-communicating,” said Mr. Green.

Unforeseen supply-chain entanglements are not an isolated problem for companies in China, and grooms have been grappling with them throughout the pandemic. For his wedding in April, James Willis, 24, a healthcare recruiter in Fresno, Cali. ordered a rental tuxedo from the Black Tux, a startup that loans out slick wedding attire. For months, Mr. Willis thought his order was all set, but with weeks to go before the wedding, he got word that his suit size wasn’t available. (The Black Tux did not respond to a request for comment.) At that point he had to scramble and order a whole new tuxedo from Friar Tux, a rival wedding-focused upstart. “Obviously at that point, like, my now-wife is like, freaking out, you know?” he said. “You planned your whole wedding with the colors.” Fortunately, the new, speedily-ordered suit worked and Mr. Willis looked dashing on his wedding day.

This pre-wedding suit-delay stress is something even I have experienced. For my wedding last August I ordered a custom double-breasted suit from a tailor in New York who produces in Italy. The completed suit got held up in mid-pandemic customs for weeks and arrived, frustratingly, a month after my wedding. I plan to finally wear it to a friend’s wedding this summer.

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Credit: www.wsj.com /

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