…but is productivity the casualty?

OFFICE workers flirtation with casual dress at work should be short lived and could be over almost before it starts, according to Tony Barlow Menswear managing director Tony Barlow.

Mr Barlow said surveys coming out of the US and Europe, where casual wear has been commonplace already for some years, showed productivity had dropped off and sexual harassment cases had increased.

Mr Barlow has been taking these results to the streets trying to put a stop to any more converts while trying to win back large firms such as PricewaterhouseCoopers and Arthur Andersen.

“The bad news is that it has been quite a disaster for retailers who are in the clothing business like us. But the good news is that the cycle has now changed,” Mr Barlow said.

“Productivity has dropped off dramatically in the US and sexual harassment has increased. The big companies are starting to change already, I just hope the same happens in Australia.”

Mr Barlow said most clothing stores were reporting about a 15 per cent drop on last year. “We, at present, are running about 6 per cent down on last year.”

He said this was the first time takings had dropped from the previous year in more than 25 years.

Mr Barlow said he was not tempted to leave the suit business and move into casual wear, as some of his competitors had done.

“We are a very strong suit house and have been for some years. We are going to stick to suits. We have actually picked up our suit lines. We have just picked up suit business as smaller operators reduce their suit holdings,” he said.

“We’ve done a survey ourselves and it shows that young men still want to wear suits.”

Drycleaning is also sweating it out, although according to Speedee Drycleaning manager Col Gibson it is hard to separate the effects of employees dressing casual and general market conditions.

Since the GST has been introduced business has dropped off about 15 per cent for Speedee.

“I’m finding that dry cleaning is coming in a bit more dirty than normal, because people are tending to wear them longer,” Mr Gibson said.

“I don’t think we’ve lost clients, I just think they are requiring different things to be dry cleaned. But they are asking for less items to be dry cleaned.

“With winter approaching business should improve again, because over summer work generally drops about 30 per cent, because people stop wearing suits.”

Add your comment

BNIQ sponsored byECU School of Business and Law


6th-Australian Institute of Management WA20,000
7th-Murdoch University16,584
8th-South Regional TAFE10,549
9th-Central Regional TAFE10,000
49 tertiary education & training providers ranked by total number of students in WA

Number of Employees

BNiQ Disclaimer