When his son Dimitri got married 10 years ago, Dan Capetz ordered a trio of matching suits for himself and his sons through his menswear boutique, Atmosfere. For his son Damon, who co-owns the Minneapolis shop with his dad, it was a light-bulb moment.
“We realized we had hit an untapped market,” Damon said.
The following year, the father-son team outfitted the wedding parties for two of Dimitri’s friends. Their strategy? Finding the same style and quality found in high-end suits for a fraction of the price.
They dressed 20 wedding parties the following year. This year, they’re approaching 300, and showing no signs of slowing — all through word of mouth.
Dan opened Atmosfere in Gaviidae Common in downtown Minneapolis in 2005 before moving to Calhoun Square in Uptown in 2007. In 2015, the retailer relocated to the North Loop and Damon officially became co-owner. While the store originally specialized in men’s casual and business apparel, more than half of its stock is now geared toward weddings.
Dan estimates that 60 percent of Atmosfere’s business comes from outfitting wedding parties and guests.
“People are never going to stop getting married; they’re not going to stop wearing formalwear to weddings, and they’re not going back to renting,” Damon said of Atmosfere’s foray into wedding togs. “Plus, guys are caring more and more about what they wear, and a rental suit doesn’t cut it.”
Sure enough, the formalwear rental industry is in decline. A 2017 report conducted by market research firm IBISWorld indicated that the industry has lost footing over the past five years as consumer dollars have shifted to online and traditional retailers as lower cost suiting options have entered the marketplace.
At an average cost of $90 a day, a rental tuxedo can end up costing $270 when rented for three days of pictures and festivities. At Atmosfere, an all-wool Mantoni suit costs around $225 — a Hugo Boss suit of comparable quality goes for around $800 — while a wool-blend or polyester suit starts at $175.
Fit is another consideration: Because rented formalwear is intended to be worn by many different men, it tends to fit poorly, unlike a custom-tailored suit.
Damon suggested that grooms make their initial appointment at least three months before their wedding date. (Wedding guests can plan at least six weeks out.) Once the order is submitted, it takes anywhere from 10 days to just more than one month before delivery, plus another week for alterations.
Working with an independent boutique has other perks. A smaller store such as Atmosfere can offer more attentive customer service, plus it can place special orders for customized fabrics and colors.
In fact, Damon said, he loves it when a couple come in with a Pinterest board and other specifications for their big day. “That’s our forte,” he said. “It’s fun to consult and give them ideas, because that’s what we’re here to do — steer them in the right direction.”
730 Washington Av. N., Mpls., 612-333-1843, facebook.com/atmosfere
St. Paul’s dress destination
Highland Park boutique Stephanie’s has been dressing women for special events and weddings since 2004. Owner Stephanie Morrissey stocks her shop with high-quality, on-trend dresses and separates from labels such as Nicole Miller and Diane von Furstenberg, chosen with an eye for her customers’ preferences.
“We think we have the best selection of dresses in town,” said store manager Lora Horgen. “It’s very unique from what you’re going to find in department stores.”
Shoppers are known to turn to the store in frustration after striking out elsewhere.
“We hear this from customers all the time: ‘I’ve spent all day at the Mall of America and went to so many different stores,’ ” Morrissey said. “They come here and within 30 minutes, they’re out the door, happy, with a dress.”
Stephanie’s staff is also knowledgeable about what to wear at different kinds of weddings. There’s more to knowing what’s appropriate for weddings other than the adage to avoid white. Time of day and location are other important factors — for example, a daytime wedding held outdoors calls for more casual styles than an indoor evening wedding. The store has even outfitted customers traveling to Italy and England for nuptials, which often have different dress codes from their American counterparts.
“One thing I tell customers is to find out what kind of wedding it is and how comfortable they want to be,” Morrissey said.
“At a cocktail party, they can wear a more structured dress, but if they’re going to be dancing and outside, they need something lightweight that they can move in.” Plus, she added, “You don’t want to wear heels to a garden wedding.”
Because Stephanie’s emphasizes quality, its merchandise prices range from $140 for a more casual sundress to $598 for a DVF tuxedo jumpsuit, with most styles running closer to $300 or $400 and sale pieces starting at $50. But Morrissey tries to make it more affordable for her customers by selecting versatile pieces that can be reworn at the office or out to dinner.
“We’re not New York, where people are spending $1,000 on a dress for every event they attend,” Horgen said. “We try to make it somewhat economical.”
758 S. Cleveland Av., St. Paul, 651-690-3802, stephaniesshop.com
Jahna Peloquin is style editor of Minnesota Monthly magazine and a fashion, design and arts writer in Minneapolis.