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Bad News for Black Tie

You can sense it in the air: something terrible has happened. You’re not sure what it is—but it involves the tuxedo.

As it turns out, Vera Wang is getting into the tuxedo game, and she’s chosen as her collaborator... Men’s Wearhouse. It’s bad news for everyone involved, not the least our beloved penguin suit. Here’s why.

High-low designer collabs have worked before—most notably for Jil Sander’s three seasons with Uniqlo—but it always worked in the same way: brands provided the fabrics and production, while designers provided the designs.

That worked for Uniqlo because their fabrics and production are pretty good, especially by mass-market standards. It also means that if you pick something up from H&M, you get the kind of stitching and fabric you expect from H&M—even if it says Tom Ford or Lanvin on the label.

Which brings us to what you can expect from Vera Wang and Men’s Wearhouse. The “Vera Wang” brand isn’t quite where it was 10 years ago, but she’s still one of the sharpest design minds in the business and a huge asset to just about any project.

But in this case, that just doesn’t matter. It’s a tuxedo. The design’s been the same for a century, and while there’s a bit of fussing to be done around the edges, even a brilliant designer will have their hands tied. What makes a great tuxedo is the fabric, the construction, the quality of production—all of which is going to be firmly in the hands of Men’s Wearhouse.

It’s one more example of the same lesson menswear’s been pushing for the last half a decade: pay more attention to construction and less attention to designers.

If Men’s Wearhouse needs a high-profile collaborator, they should call up Martin Greenfield.