Luxury fashion brands have begun to pay greater attention to their male demographic. With slowing women’s fashion sales, brands are venturing into the largely untapped market of high-end male fashion. Last week we discussed the rise of male-centric branded hard cider; a drink that was once a “girly” drink is now being marketed to males, and companies are seeing positive results. The same trend is appearing in the world of high fashion. These seemingly disparate categories of hard cider and fashion in fact are seeing the same trend, where men are now willing to forge their own paths in areas that were once female dominated.
Recent years have noted significant increases in men’s fashion sales, whereas women’s fashion is slowing down. In 2013, menswear retail sales were up 5% hitting $60.8 billion, whereas women’s wear was up 4% to $116.4 billion. There is no doubt that women’s fashion is the retail juggernaut compared to men’s, but retailers are recognizing a growing trend as menswear interest increases.
It all began with the term “metrosexual,” when men were not afraid to don more feminine attire and show their appreciation for a more “accessorized” look. With the flux of millennial men reaching the age where they can afford to purchase “luxury” items, it comes as no surprise that brands are reaching out to target the growing demographic with eccentric male tastes.
One brand that is diving head-first into the menswear pool is Michael Kors. The brand has seen massive past success with its relatively affordable luxury women’s lines of apparel and accessories, but has decided to take a manly turn. Kors has offered menswear in the past, but it has always been incorporated into the women’s stores with the hopes that women would buy the attire for their men. Kors announced plans to open their first free-standing men’s store next year, with high hopes of opening over 500 more stores over the next decade.
Brands that have been women-central in the past have a steep hill to climb in order to gain brand appeal for men as well. It is important that brands find a way to appeal to men and women at the same time without turning the other gender off. Marketing is key to successful male branding. For example, Kors plans to open flagship stores that are obviously tailored to males’ tastes. Other brand’s stores are featuring environments that will appeal to men, complete with club-like atmospheres, cocktail bars, and even barbershops.
The online purchase experience must not been forgotten by luxury brands. Online sales of mens’ apparel grew 19% last year and now represents 14% of total men’s apparel sales. For the men who want to look good, but do not want to venture past their keyboard to go shopping, online shopping is the key, and brands need to take online sales into consideration.
Regardless of whether sales are being made in the store or online, it is important that retailers understand that men’s purchasing behaviors differ greatly from women’s. Brand loyalty is a major factor in men’s purchasing behavior. Once men find a brand they like, they will stick with it. So now is the time for luxury brands to make a lasting impression with the up-and-coming millennial men who want to look good and are willing to pay a pretty penny.