Wednesday, Sept. 15, 1999


By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Joseph Bardouche models a tux at Tuxedo
Junction, which is managed by his wife Perlas.

The black tie
will play big
role this year

Millennium Eve parties
are going to be posh, the
tux companies say

By Leila Fujimori


New Year's Eve parties will be a black-tie affair for more companies this year than in the past. That's the indication from some in the tuxedo rental and retail business.

Gary's Tux Shops, a chain encompassing the former Celebrity Tuxedos, started its direct marketing campaign in July -- and is still getting responses.

"I've already been in touch with a number of organizations and corporations that will have millennium parties," said Phil Grunenberg, vice president and general manager for Gary's. "They've decided to turn their events into black-tie affairs."

Gary's has five Hawaii shops and a chain of 115 on the mainland.

One law firm would typically have its partners and their wives gather for a holiday dinner. But this year, the partners have decided to invite all their employees to join in the festivities, said Grunenberg. Such parties typically number 75 to 80 people, and all the men will need tuxes.

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Joseph Bardouche is fitted for the tux by Hoku
Tanian, assistant manager at the Kakaako store.

Grunenberg didn't hesitate in saying his shops could handle the added business anticipated for the millennium celebration. "In our busy times, we put out 2,000 tuxedos a week," he said.

August marked the first time Tuxedo Junction tried to market its services to businesses for New Year's Eve celebrations. And feedback has been positive, said Perlas Bardouche, Ala Moana branch manager.

One of the companies she is negotiating with has 200 employees, and more than half are men who will need a tuxedo on Dec. 31.

"I like to spread my options in different venues other than typical weddings or proms," Bardouche said of her marketing campaign. In addition to businesses, she is waiting to hear from organizations such as the American Heart Association and chorale groups which often perform in formal wear.

Black Tie Affair owner Mike Chong, however, doesn't expect extra business at the millennium's dawn. "Guys that use a tux on New Year's Eve own one." His business usually handles just a handful of rentals for New Year's Eve parties - but he does sell tuxes and recommends buying something worthwhile, from $350 and up, while the getting's still good.

The cost for a tuxedo is similar to that for a suit. "It is the last quarter of the year when Gary's Tux makes the most sales," said Grunenberg, with tuxedos there running from $200, up to $2,000 for a Versace.

If renting a tux, Chong said, "The important thing is the darn thing fits properly. You don't want to make a bad impression."

He said he has seen other companies treat fittings like it's a Halloween costume rental, which he would not allow. "We even match the brands of the shirt with the tux. We're a lot more exacting and meticulous," Chong said.

He did note an increase in the number of people getting married on Dec. 31 and during 2000. And the week between Christmas and New Year's is typically booked for weddings, Chong said, perhaps since family and friends would fly into town during that time anyway.

At Tuxedo Junction, for one, that wedding surge will keep things busy: The company will outfit more than 15 wedding parties between Dec. 30 and Jan. 5, with an average of five to seven tuxedos per party.

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