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French people ‘giving up on the suit’ as sales plummet

Sales of men’s suits in France have fallen by 58% in recent years, prompting commentators to suggest that the outfit may be “on the decline” and no longer seen as a symbol of “prestige and power”.

A report by news source BMFTV said: “After having deserted the street, the suit is in the process of disappearing from business...the garment no longer symbolises prestige and power.”

The suit is originally thought to date back to the 19th century, with the future king of England, Edward VII, known as one of the first high-profile figures to wear matching pieces of clothing with a shirt underneath.

The outfit would later become known as the modern suit, and would be worn across the West and beyond well into the 20th century. It was traditionally seen as a "male" outfit, with some women later choosing to wear it as a sign of power, defiance, or gender fluidity and expression.

By the 1960s, suits had been “democratised”, and were worn by almost all men in public - the report said - regardless of whether they were a manager, director, senior staff, or a general worker.

The ubiquity of the suit may mean that wearers choose the same outfit for “a wedding, a funeral, and a job interview”, a joke suggests (Photo: Lukas / Pexels)

But journalist Frédéric Bianchi said: “Suits began to disappear from towns at the end of the 1960s to the beginning of the 1970s.

“Now, the ‘second movement’ is that suits are now starting to disappear from business too. It used to be the mandatory ‘uniform’, but now it is disappearing, and it’s happening very quickly.

“Since 2011, sales of suits in France have halved, from 3.3 million, to 1.4 million today. French people are giving up on the suit.”

Today, just 6% of French people say they buy one suit per year, compared to a figure of 15% a few years ago, the report said.

Bianchi also referenced an “internet joke”, which mocks the fact that wearing suits means that often, men show up in the same outfit for “a wedding, a funeral, and a job interview”.

Most wearers today only have one formal suit in their wardrobe, which they wear for every "special" event, he said.

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