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Generation Tux Finds RFID Well Suited to Its Mission

The new online tuxedo-rental business, launched by Men's Wearhouse's founder, ensures that customers get what they ordered, thanks to UHF RFID tags that identify each garment's shipment, return and usage history.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 05, 2015

When George Zimmer, the founder and former CEO of Men's Wearhouse, looked to launch a new men's formal wear rental company this year, he wanted to create something that would set his company apart from its competitors. The result is Generation Tux, which can provide tuxedo rentals to consumers without requiring them to ever leave their homes. For about $150, a customer can go online and order a tuxedo, a shirt, shoes, cuff links, and a cummerbund or belt, and have the ensemble delivered a week before it is needed. Zimmer worked with designers to create Generation Tux's own line of private label apparel. To automatically manage the items that are moving into and out of is warehouse, as well as provide an aesthetically pleasing suit without any visible labels like those normally seen on rental apparel, the company is incorporating a radio frequency identification tag into each garment.

Generation Tux is one of the first fully online tuxedo-wear companies, according to Matt Howland, the firm's CTO. "We decided to go big out of the gate," he says, so the company opened a Louisville, Ky., warehouse containing 30,000 suits, along with shirts, ties, shoes and accessories. Each pair of pants, as well as every jacket, shirt, tie and shoe, comes with a passive EPC ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tag incorporated into it in a discrete fashion, with the aim of making the tag largely invisible to users. Tags are attached inside the heels of shoes, or are sewn into pants seams and into the collars or cuffs of shirts and jackets.

A Generation Tux worker pushes a shipping box toward a tunnel reader, which captures the tag ID of every article of clothing packed, enabling the system to verify that the order has been correctly filled.
The RFID tag is intended to serve two purposes, Howland says: improve the suits' aesthetics by eliminating the need for bar-code labels, and make inventory and quality control management automatic by ensuring that the ordered items are available and delivered to each customer quickly.

The unique ID number encoded to each tag is linked to specific details about that item in the company's RFID-based software, provided by AscentERP, which served as the RFID deployment's systems integrator. The collected data is then forwarded to the Salesforce back-end management software, and thereby makes it possible to track each item's movement and location using RFID readers. Generation Tux declined to name the make and model of tags and readers being used.

The company took the RFID solution live last month, Howland says. The system works this way: shoppers first visit Generation Tux's website, organize their event, such as a wedding (indicating how many and what kinds of outfits will be needed), and select their suit or suits according to style and color. Then they have themselves measured. The system comes with online video tutorials to enable customers to collect their measurements at home, with the help of a friend and a measuring tape (Generation Tux will send one to customers if needed). They then place their order, indicating those measurements.

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