If you still think the fashion industry is dominated by womenswear, you are so wrong. When it comes to growth and development, menswear not only has the greatest potential, but is also having the greatest success.
Menswear is outgrowing almost every other consumer sector by far. From 2010 to 2015, menswear grew at a rate of 17.4%, which was almost an entire percentage point ahead of groceries. Yes, you read that correctly. The growth of menswear is outpacing groceries! And that growth is expected to continue at a rate of just over 14% through 2020.
So what is it about menswear that changed so drastically? Why do retailers and designers care about what men buy all of a sudden?
For starters, popular fashion is almost always influenced by the runway. In the last few years, many major cities have started to take note that the men’s market is ripe for the picking. With the arrival of this summer’s first-ever New York Fashion Week: Men’s, it’s clear that designers have been ahead of the pack in realizing the importance of men’s fashion. Luxury designers have been taking more risks and walking away from the predictable men’s staples (i.e. chinos, blazers, suits, etc.). Take for instance Rick Owens’ crotchless offerings during his early January runway show in Paris. Or Gucci’s latest androgynous men’s collection featuring lots of silk and bows. It’s clear that the increase in popular men’s styles (whether that’s androgyny, athleisure, lumbersexual, or streetwear) has shown that this market isn’t yet saturated.
Also, men are no longer satisfied with what’s being offered. For so long, we’ve just accepted that what was on the rack was all that was available. Now we have the ability to customize and create our own clothing for the same price as what’s on that ever predictable rack. Brands like Marcella, Alton Lane, My.suit, and Enzo Custom Clothiers are allowing guys to design made to measure shirts and suiting for the same cost as off the rack mass market clothing. And brands like Frank and Oak and Bonobos are customizing the experience by making their stores into places to hang out, grab a drink, or get a haircut. The era of all men’s departments being shoved into the dark basement is over.
The source of our daily inspiration is also changing. Social media and bloggers are providing their own perspectives to anyone who will listen or read. In the past, magazine editors were the driving force in fashion. If a brand or piece was featured on the pages of GQ, Details, or Esquire, most guys took that advice as the gospel. Other than guys on the street, there really was no other place to look. Now, if I want outfit inspiration, I can spend a couple minutes searching through boards on Pinterest or perusing fashion hashtags on Instagram. What real people are wearing is so much more accessible. If I can see a real person wearing something well on social media, I’m that much more inclined to try it out. Models just aren’t that convincing these days-they’ve been styled and pinned to perfection. Of course those outfits look great on them, but most times, the magazine looks don’t translate to reality.
Similar to how the retail industry and its customer are evolving, men and their fashion sense are rapidly changing as well. But unlike the retail industry, menswear designers are paying attention to their consumers’ needs and preferences. And taking that extra time to analyze the details is paying off. The menswear market is booming, and fashion is no longer just a ladies’ game. Start paying attention now or get left behind. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.