Here is a question I was asked recently on an online menswear forum. Jos. A Bank is a well-known chain of men’s clothing stores that also sells online. Because they often deeply discount their suits, some wonder if they offer good value. Here’s my opinion:
Often, you get better value by buying brands like Jos. A Bank when compared to trendier designer brands.
Jos. A. Bank suits offer good value and are comparable in quality to other major suit brands at a similar retail price point. In fact, you will find that most suits that retail in the $1500 range are not constructed any differently than a top-of-the-line $800 Jos. A Bank ‘Signature Gold’ suit. Typically, they use half-canvas construction (check this page for a definition of half-canvas) and premium wool fabrics. When compared to more expensive designer labels such as Hugo Boss and Z Zegna that offer suits in the $1000 – $1500 range, you will find that the quality is comparable to what Jos. A Bank offers for around $800.
Why Jos. A. Bank Suits Are Priced Lower Than Many Competitors
Most menswear brands today do not own factories. The vast majority of menswear labels, including Jos. A. Bank, outsource suit manufacturing to factories in China, Mexico, Canada, and other countries. Your Jos. A. Bank suit may be made in the same factory and use the same methods of construction as a long list of other menswear brands. Some of those brands may charge a higher price for the same suit simply by adding the perception of greater value with a ‘designer’ label. Because of the high volume of suits that Jos. A. Bank sells (1.1 Billion in sales 2017) it has lower manufacturing costs overall than most of its competitors. For that reason, it can sell suits at a lower price than many of its competitors.
What you are paying for with brands like Hugo Boss and Z Zegna is a premium designer label and a more fashion-oriented cut (most of all you’re paying for that designer name). If you would like to dig deeper into the secrets of suit construction, check out these 2 articles where a boutique suit maker (who retails suits for $1500.00 & up) takes apart and compares the construction features of a $500.00 Jos. A. Bank suit and a ‘designer’ $1500 Z Zegna suit. It provides an insightful look at the value a Jos. A. Bank suit can provide at its price point.
A Note on Jos. A. Bank Promotional Pricing
First of all, the original suggested retail price is never the true price for the suit. The promotional price, typically half of the retail price, is closer to the true everyday retail price of the suit. If you want the best price, look out for clearance sales at the end of season. The pricing can fluctuate wildly with the confusing range of promotions and clearance sales so a little patience can often yield a much better price. Check the Jos. A. Bank website at various times throughout the month (and throughout the year) to catch the best deals.
Choose the Jos. A Bank Collection That Fits Your Budget
The lower priced ‘Executive’ and mid-tier ‘Signature’ collection suits offered by Jos. A Bank uses less-costly fused interlining construction like all other suit brands in the $200-$500 price range. The ‘Signature’ collection does offer premium fabrics and better construction details than the “Executive Collection’, but not the superior half-canvas construction of the top-of-the-line Jos. A. Bank ‘Signature Gold‘ collection.
Personally, I would only consider buying the Jos. A. Bank ‘Traveler,’ ‘Signature‘ and ‘Signature Gold‘ collections as they offer better construction details such as pants lined to the knees and more luxurious fabrics. The Traveler and Signature collections also have a ‘canvas chest piece’ sewn in to add shaping to the chest (although it is not mentioned in Jos. A. Bank advertising). I know this because I do all of my own alterations and I have opened up each of these suit jackets. The quality upgrade from the Signature Collection to Signature Gold Collection adds a more substantial canvas chest piece interlining which adds better shaping and a bit of flattering heft to the shoulder and chest area of the suit. The Signature Gold Collection also features a range of more luxurious fabrics.
Should You Buy A Jos. A. Bank Suit?
Often you get better value by buying brands like Jos. A Bank when compared to trendier designer brands. Just keep in mind that the cut of the suit may be less-trendy with a brand like Jos. A Bank that caters to businessmen rather than the fashion-minded. Truthfully, since suits remain in your wardrobe longer than most items of clothing, you don’t want to buy faddish styles that rapidly lose their appeal.
Personally, I buy all of my suits used on eBay or at thrift shops. I own two Jos. A. Bank Signature Gold collection suits and consider them worth seeking out. My dark blue wool Signature Gold Traditional Fit suit purchased second-hand, (shown at the top of this post) is a solid business suit made with luxurious yet durable fabrics. It has modest business-appropriate tailoring and all of the quality touches that really matter including half-canvas construction, Bemberg lining, and better-quality wool fabric. If you are slim, be aware that the Signature Gold Tailored Fit collection may offer a more flattering fit for you.
I also own a Jos. A. Bank Signature Collection suit (3-button blue chalk-stripe shown above). It does not have the better-quality canvas chest piece of the Signature Gold Collection. However, in terms of real-world quality it is still an excellent value especially when its sold on promotion as low as $199 when new (it may even be cheaper during end-of-season clearance sales).
I am modeling my wool herringbone tweed sportscoat from the Jos. A. Bank Travelers Collection (Tailored Fit) below. The suits and sportcoats in this collection are treated for wrinkle and stain resistance making them well suited for globe-trotting commuters who need to stay sharp.
If you are looking for a suit for a special occasion or event and have a tight budget, you cannot go wrong with the lower-priced Jos. A. Bank collections. Their classic ‘Executive Collection’ seersucker and cotton suits are among my favorites. They offer good quality and stylish looks at a very good price if you take advantage of promotions or sales.
A good fit will make the average suit look extraordinary so paying a bit extra for alterations is a worthy investment with any suit purchase. Be aware that if you are athletically trim or slimmer than average you will most likely need some alterations to make your suit look its best. They are cut a bit fuller than European suits in general.
Determine the level of quality that best fits your budget and keep an eye on the promotions and clearance sales Jos. A. Bank is well known for. You can find a good deal! Be sure to check out my post “How Much Should I Pay for a Quality Suit.” for more helpful information.