For decades, if a man wanted to look professional in the workplace, he wouldn't dare walk out the door in the morning without having put on a tie. But as businesses adapt, they're largely loosening their grip on traditional standards of dress. Some, like digital men's apparel company Taylrd Clothing, even are campaigning actively for more casual dress codes that reflect a more relaxed, open work environment.
Tom Dwyer, Taylrd's CEO, points out how changes within industries and worker demographics--for instance, the rise of technology, automation and younger people moving en masse to urban areas--are helping spur changes to workplace fashion. He asserts that, with Gen Z on the doorstep of millions of companies around the world, suits and ties are going to become obsolete quickly.
"With businesses getting younger and socially conscious, with less emphasis on hierarchal structures, this culture has expanded to the ways workers dress. The most successful businesses are those that look to breed independent, creative, and balanced workforce who enjoy coming into the office to fulfill a common purpose. What better way to abet this than by encouraging a dress code that is casual, comfortable and unique to the style and personality of the employee?"
Promoting change through business-building sales
After seeing some 20 ties stagnating in his own closet and donating them to a local Goodwill, Dwyer came up with a savvy business promotion that not only benefits his immediate customers, but which also supports the goal of eliminating formal ties from the office: When you visit Taylrd's site, you can enter the code "tiebuyback" at checkout. That prompts the business to send you a bag along with your order. Use the bag to send ties you don't want to Taylrd. When you've sent along 10 ties, Taylrd will refund you for your order in full.
Of course, that means Taylrd will have more than a few ties on its hands. Partnering promotion with philanthropy, Dwyer plans to donate all the ties Taylrd receives to Careergear.org. The organization provides good-condition, used professional clothing to economically underprivileged men to help them gain and maintain employment. The group also offers other benefits, such as literacy, job readiness and life skills training. The partnership, Dwyer says, reflects both the desire for purpose within Taylrd and an acknowledgment that the shift to a more casual workplace is a work in progress.
"While our goal is to get rid of ties in the workplace, we do understand they still do have a place in some parts of the corporate world. And if one can help someone get a job, we're all for it.
"For me it's all about finding a purpose. There are so many clothing companies popping up today that it's important that we have a reason for not only existing, but also a purpose to help our customers and do our part to make things better. With this campaign, we saw a way to intertwine our goal of creating clothing that fits our customer's lifestyle better, with a way to help a cause that is really important to us."
Following the example set by greats
As the partnership with Careergear.org grows, Dwyer is still confident the shift to a tie-less office is well underway, thanks largely to major companies like Apple.
"There's almost a direct correlation between successful U.S.-based companies that are innovating in their respective industries and their belief in casual attire in the workplace. Steve Jobs was first to be visible on this and helped shape an entire generation of entrepreneurs who ascribe to casual attire being part of a bigger philosophy about what work should actually be. This is now so prevalent that you'd be really high-pressed to find a business run by a millennial founder that ascribes to any type of formal dress code."
And customers already are responding to Taylrd's casual branding. Dwyer reports customer and sales growth has gone up 400 percent quarter over quarter, with the business projecting $1 million in sales in 2018. And as the business becomes more ominchannel, Dwyer plans to launch Taylrdstream, a mobile pop-up store, to let customers explore the company's products first hand. The trailer will travel to different work locations and share office space.
In this context, research also suggests that people tend to associate leadership with their own clothing styles. Dress in heels or a button down shirt, for example, and that's what you'll expect your higher-ups to wear, too. But conversely, this means that people who dress casually aren't going to question your authority just because you pull a Zuckerberg and show up in a sweatshirt. We can maintain the concept of trailblazing, in other words, even if ties go away. It's just a matter of getting casual to be the preferred default instead of the ties.
"The most important thing, we feel, is that employees feel comfortable and empowered enough to be able to wear what they want. We plan to continue the dialogue and build our line based upon clothing that is versatile and comfortable and help build a more casual workplace."