Saul Terrycloth, owner and operator of Saul’s Open Robe Emporium and Sundries, stared at the racks of open robes on display as a handful of customers browsed indifferently. The once bustling regional retailer giant was now on life-support.
“You know there was a time this place would’ve been packed. Sometimes I’d even have a line to get in the place. Isn’t that crazy?” He said with a smile as he recalled happier times. “But now I’ll be lucky if I get three or four sales all day.”
Recent allegations of sexual misconduct against disgraced political analyst Mark Halprin, and human-troll-masquerading-as-a-human-being former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein have all involved open robes and inappropriate settings. As a result sales of the casual clothing item have dropped precipitously in recent weeks.
“What’s happened to these women is a tragedy. It truly is, and I don’t wanna take away from that,” Mr. Terrycloth qualified. “But don’t blame the open robes! They’re not supposed to be used except by yourself or in the presence of someone who consents to see you in it beforehand.” He said with a shake of his head. He smiled quickly as a woman customer gave him an awkward smile in return before she headed to the front door. She left without a purchase.
“I bet she was gonna get something for her husband, but not now. It’s like the open robe has been tainted,” Mr. Terrycloth said before he picked up a broom and he muttered about “sweeping up a bit.”
I asked renowned economic specialist and retail clothing industry expert Debra Costington what the long term impact theses allegations would have for the open robe.
“The hard truth is the open robe is probably about to go the way of the smoking jacket and the haberdashery,” said Ms. Costington. “It’ll be a niche item, never truly going away but its days of dominance as the casual outfit for the man of power are over.”
“It used to be the negative imagery of the open robe was a grizzled, wrinkled, old man or portly working class father who’d just gotten up and inadvertently, or indifferently left his robe open. It was absurd, and rightfully revolting but it was comedic. The industry could spin that image, and with good marketing turn it into a positive.”
“There’s no way to spin sexual harassment into a positive, and the public is making their voices heard by choosing to spend their money elsewhere.”
On Wall Street, stocks of open robe companies have taken hits across the board. Perhaps the most difficult bellwether to stomach was clothing giant Smith & Smith’s announcement that they would suspend all production of their open robe clothing lines. Retailers were shocked that a company who produced such premier brands as ‘The Continental’, ‘The Gentleman Caller’, and ‘The Matador’ was out of the open robe market.
“This is an absolute tragedy,” lamented Mr. Terrycloth. “Again, what happened to those women was utterly terrible. To be in a position of vulnerability, wanting to be taken seriously in a career that’s not only your passion but your livelihood, and all of that put in jeopardy by a man in a position of authority who’s sexually harassing you is just god damn terrible.”
“I just wish they hadn’t done it with an open robe,” He said followed by a heavy sigh as he trudged over to the front door, locked up, and turned the ‘Yes! We’re Open!’ sign around to ‘Sorry, We’re Closed.’
“I think it’s gonna take the government stepping in and passing a law that says the use of an open robe in sexual harassment is a felony. I don’t know. That’s about our only hope at this point,” Mr. Terrycloth said obliviously as he left out of the back of his darkened anachronistic, allegory of society.
He made two sales that day.