Another battle in the never-ending office dress code wars ended decisively this week when the Men’s Dress Furnishings Association (MDFA), the American tie makers trade group, announced that it would be shutting down its operations.
The MDFA publicly blamed its dwindling membership as the reason behind the group’s decision to dissolve. The group’s current membership of 25 companies is down from 120 in the 1980s.
Behind the scenes, however, members of the MDFA and others in the workplace fashion industry were acknowledging that MDFA’s closure was a direct result of the Smart and Casual Officewear Federation’s (SACOF) relentless attacks on both the formal wear industry and its culture.
One MDFA insider, who asked to remain anonymous, said, “Truth is, SACOF beat us a long time ago. Some of us think we should have disbanded years ago when it first became clear that SACOF had made business casual the dominant office wear.”
Others used more forceful language when talking about SACOF, proving that bad blood remains between the two groups long after the bloody officewear wars of the 1980s and 1990s. Many, speaking off record, accused SACOF of continuing to play hardball in the years following the Truce of 2002, using tactics such as shakedowns of makers of formal wear.
Representatives of SACOF did not respond to any calls for comment. SACOF’s press department issued the following brief statement: “The members of the Smart and Casual Officewear Federation wish the best for all of the members of the Men’s Dress Furnishings Association in their future endeavors. SACOF, as an organization, had nothing but respect for MDFA in the years the two groups competed against one another.”
It looks like SACOF will have no more competition going forward.