While reports are saying that Men’s Wearhouse chief executive George Zimmer and the company were not exactly seeing eye-to-eye, it appears that the termination of the Men’s Wearhouse founder was branding related. In an abrupt move, the male apparel retailer relieved Zimmer of his duties yesterday. Zimmer, whom had largely become the face of the brand with his famous tagline “You’re going to like the way you look. I guarantee it,” is 64-years-old.
Zimmer, who started the company in 1973, took over as the brand’s chief spokesperson during the 1980s. Since then Zimmer’s tone has become more relaxed, however his presence has remained. Stifel Nicolaus analyst Richard Jaffe suggests that there may have been a developing concern regarding the brand’s connection with Millennials. “An old guy with a gray beard may not provide credibility to the product in the eyes of a 22 or 24 year old,” Jaffe stated in a recent MediaPost article.
However, others, such as Devito/Verdi president and founder Ellis Verdi, consider Men’s Wearhouse advertising some of the most iconic in retail and Zimmer one of its strongest, most consistent presences. In addition, it has been pointed out that profits were up 23 percent. Since yesterday its stock price has taken a hit, falling 2 percent. So the move definitely seems odd.
It certainly came as a surprise to hear that Zimmer would no longer play a major role in the company. That said, I don’t think I have ever set foot (or even thought about setting foot) in a Men’s Wearhouse. As a young professional looking to make a good first impression wherever I travel, I would say that my attitude toward the brand could be viewed as an issue if I am not even considering it as an option. However, as I have highlighted before, it takes more than simply appearing “cool” to capture the attention of Millennials. I hope the 40-year-old company realizes this after making such a bold move.