Menswear finally did it. It got over the preconceived hang-ups, climbed out of the closet and out of the shadows of womenswear. Previously, shopping trips to the then-popular fashion chains proved unsatisfying and the outwardly display of being ‘into fashion’ was a repudiation of virility. Men’s fashion today isn’t treated as an afterthought or a mere cookie-cut necessity that was presented brusquely in a machismo ‘take it or leave it’ manner.
The past few years has witnessed a huge shift that has style inclusivity at the centre of it. Put simply, men are applauded for taking a comprehensive interest in their appearance. The industry has taken note that men certainly want to spend money on fashion and are trying to provide the environment to make this possible. But does that mean the market is saturated with menswear? Nowhere close. It’s still one of the most frustrating thing to get ready-made diversity for men from retailers. But that’s where you can come in. (Ehem USP anyone?)
There’s a reason why the four main Fashion Weeks began in 2015 to host separate, menswear-only events, as well as, more fashion brands like Stella McCartney putting out men’s collections. According to Euromonitor International, “The global market for men’s designer apparel is projected to reach nearly $33 billion in 2020, up 14 percent from $29 billion in 2015.” In the UK, Verdict announced that their menswear market would be a serious rival for the now dominant womenswear market. All thanks to their forecasted 25.7% growth by 2019. Other stats that may interest you include:
- Men really enjoy online shopping. In fact, 40% of men would happily do all their shopping via the internet.
- They shop more often than women! Men will spend 20% more-time shopping on a weekly basis than women. They also go to more stores than women do.
- According to fashion public-relations firm, Boutique at Ogilvy, men spend $10 more than women on accessories and apparel monthly. Their report also estimates that the menswear market will grow at twice the rate of womenswear to become a $110.3 billion
- Granted that menswear is priced higher than womenswear, whether luxury or mass market, men still opt for the items in the higher price spectrum. Translation – they’re willing to pay more for good product.
- With all the option, it’s easy to decipher men’s wardrobes. When it comes to streetwear, men spend the most on shoes, followed by shorts and trousers. If the great sales in sneakers and bomber jackets are anything to go by, men value travel and exercise. However, they also seek out well-made and unique pieces that are less traditional. Hence, they are more likely to buy luxury labels than women.
WHY ARE MEN SHOPPING MORE?
It could be tempting to assume that men spend more because they still earn more money than women in the job market. But there are a couple of theories floating around out there:
- Fast-fashion brands chose to primarily tailor their cheap shopping at high volumes concept to the female market. There just aren’t that many cheap menswear outlets and thus the high price tags associated with men’s fashion.
- According to the men’s style director at Matches Fashion, Simon Chilvers, men can shop more now because there’s less formality in the workplace. A relaxed dress code means more options and opinions on what and how they wear clothes.
- With the influx of information from the internet, such as through social media and bloggers, this generation of men are more exposed and knowledgeable. Thus, masculinity isn’t threatened by openly comprehending or appreciating fashion.
- They are more trend-conscious. According to Mintel, younger generations of men (typically between ages 25-34) place more importance on wearing clothes that are current than women in the same age group. It’s safe to say that men are dressing better and their clothing status symbols have evolved.
- Bonus – men and women both buy menswear. Whether they’re shopping on behalf of their partners, parents and children, or because the lines are blurring between traditionally men’s and women’s fashion, the money still makes its way to the menswear market.
MARKETING TO MEN
It goes without saying that men and women think very differently; and that includes how they perceive the clothes they wear. Whereas women believe how their dress affects how their inner being is perceived, men have a ‘what you see is what you get’ approach. Men tend to dress with absolute distinctions and thus choose clothes that reflect what they do or can do. For example, they want a look that says, “I’m strong, confident, authoritative, adventurous and standout guy”. With that in mind, implementing the marketing fundamentals should be done so with gender-associated considerations in mind. Below are some examples to cogitate:
- Connexion – Women will look at an accessory or piece of clothing in relation to what it will go with. Men, on the other hand, hate thinking in terms of ensembles and look at them as individual items.
- Space – They favour sequential and compartmentalisation over relational spaces. Couple this with the fact that they don’t browse but instead buy what they need ‘now’ and get out, this should help guide how you structure your physical and online store.
- Content – Unlike women who like to do comparison shopping, men buy routinely from the same place. These creatures of habit establish a connection and maintain it for as long as possible; they even tend to spend more per session. Thus, the instant gratification tactics such as discounts won’t buy their loyalty. Instead, a menswear brand must play the long game and earn their loyalty through their content. This could be as simple as personalised email campaigns, original and engaging information on your website, word of mouth and being bespoke.
- Bespoke – This works in two ways. Your product should speak to the image-conscious man by being as closely aligned to the runway as possible. That is, a customizable product that is beautifully crafted with excellent fit. Secondly it should reflect in the service experience. As Karl McKeever of retail consultancy Visual Thinking put it, “the bespoke approach is to men what ‘pampering’ is to women. It’s about confidence and trust.” As much as they love individuality, they still want someone to help them do it. They want the option of getting expert advice from someone they trust at the store. Like a butler advising on a nobleman’s tie or a barber giving aftershave advise.
With more men shopping off and online, men’s fashion is certainly not a side act in the industry anymore. However, there’s more to it than just creating an alluring menswear product. Quite a bit of effort will have to go into understanding the people you are targeting (and the women in their lives, if possible). With the menswear market under explored, there’s undoubtedly enough room for male-oriented content and apparel; especially on the African continent. We just have to be willing to do the work and take the plunge. If you know African menswear designers, do drop a link to their websites/social media pages in the content section below.