Stereotypes are changing.
The clichd approach that led us to believe that men are averse to shopping has changed. That's what latest statistics on menswear tell us. There is greater emphasis on outwardly appearance and how people present themselves to the world on a day-to-day basis.
Clothes play a fundamental part in helping modern professionals leave an indelible impression on associates, trade partners and seniors. Men really do not have a choice but to update their knowledge on what's chic and what's not. Shopping for clothes is mandatory if they are to survive in the world that judges a person based on attire. With men becoming well-versed in fashion, shopping is gradually becoming fun for them, too.
Numbers don't lie
According to Euromonitor International, the global menswear market registered a growth of 4.5 per cent in 2014; helping overall global sales of apparel and footwear reach US$ 440 billion. Womenswear registered a growth of 3.7 per cent in the corresponding period. Euromonitor has predicted that by the end of 2019, menswear will have a share of US$ 40 billion in the global apparel market. The sales are expected to rise in segments like men's shirts, jackets, jeans and coats.
Apart from mounting sales, another reassuring development is that both luxury and mass fashion brands are focusing on menswear. Several stores and brands cater exclusively to menswear. No surprise, then that New York Men's Fashion Week, flagged off in 2015, garnered good response. These initiatives show that the menswear segment has potential to be as profitable as womenswear.
A recent e-commerce report from IbisWorld revealed that online shopping for menswear has also increased. Average annual online sales growth of menswear from 2010 to 2015 registered 17.4 per cent. According to IbisWorld's retail industry analyst Will McKitterick, reason for high sales growth rate in online men's clothing is that this segment is yet to experience saturation. Websites are flooded with cameras, mobile phones, etc and other segments like online grocery shopping have failed to attract customers. This has involuntarily put the spotlight on menswear. IbisWorld also reported that average annual online sales growth of menswear will be 14.2 per cent between 2015 and 2020.
Dressing men to the nines
With a strong backdrop of growing market demand for menswear, many luxury fashion brands have expanded menswear offerings, launching a variety of product ranges and some brands like Hermes, Lanvin, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabbana and Prada have dedicated menswear stores.
Prada, which was once dominated by womenswear, announced an addition of 50 more dedicated men's shops. The company is counting on expansion to make a double-digit growth by 2016. Other brands like Kering and LVMH have also made important investments in their respective luxury menswear brands, Brioni and Berluti, respectively.
The modern man is aware of the power of brands. This has boosted the sales of luxury brands that are earning profits with rise in menswear sales. The gradual rise in profits in menswear is due to the fact that men are ready to pay more than the offer price of garments. According to the president and CEO of First Insight Inc, Greg Petro, depending on the brand and clothing item, retailers can easily charge 30 per cent more for menswear than they currently do, and boost profit margins. The purchasing power of men has also increased in both developed and developing nations, following which men are more likely to buy luxury apparel brands.
Another pertinent point is that there are more options available in the unisex segment, which makes it a safe deal for brands and retail stores. It is common to see men and women use strikingly similar accessories like bags, belts, jackets, scarves etc. It is a safe bet for retail houses to sell clothing under the unisex category, as chances of selling the item increase.
Men have started to dress better. Anything from carrying a five o' clock shadow to a well-groomed look, men are open to experiments and this theory applies to clothing as well. Deciding a perfect office look or a cool party look is no longer alien to men. According to Saks Fifth Avenue SVP and General Merchandise Manager Thomas Ott, "The world of sports; I think basketball players are dressing so well. I think that that is very influential. A lot of young musicians are dressing up. I think that today's generation - guys in their 20s and early 30s - are great for the industry. Thinking back on my career it's probably one of the best generations of male dressers that we've seen."
Emerging economies driving the growth
Even though luxury brands from affluent nations are making it big in the segment, it is the emerging markets like China and India that have proved to be a happy hunting ground for menswear. In China and India, men are spending a lot more on clothes than on other stuff like gadgets and electronics.
Richard Cohen, CEO of Trinity Limited, a company that owns a number of high-end menswear brands said, "If you split up the Chinese apparel market by demographic, menswear occupies the biggest portion of the pie - 43 per cent." On the whole, menswear is worth US$ 73.3 billion in China. On the other hand, India's menswear has become a more organised sector in recent years. Men-focused brands like Arrow, Raymond's, Louis Philippe, Allen Solly etc are attracting good business. The Indian menswear market is growing at a rate of 14.9 per cent annually. In India, the rural market has brought about a boom in the menswear industry. The perception of men in India has evolved and young men pay keen attention to clothing and style. Most top Indian retail giants expect India to become one of the major drivers of the menswear industry globally.
At present, Brazil, China, Italy, Japan and the United States represent the largest menswear markets whereas, apart from India, strong annual growth is forecast to occur in Tanzania, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia and Panama.
The strategic shift to menswear by fashion and apparel markets will allow companies to explore a potential segment as menswear is yet to reach saturation. With growing pressure to look presentable on all occasions, it is only helping the cause of the apparel markets.