As London Collections: Men comes to a close, Mintel’s senior fashion analyst Tamara Sender identifies the top three business issues and opportunities for growth in the menswear market.

How important is fashion to men?

Mintel’s research shows that men are more than four times as likely to prefer to buy classic styles that will last beyond the seasons, than to buy the latest fashion. While young men aged 16-24 still like to keep up with the latest trends, more of them are opting for classic styles. The renewed appetite for classics is being driven by an uncertain economic climate, which has resulted in a rise in men mainly buying clothes when they need to replace worn out ones. Therefore when men do buy, they are more likely to opt for quality clothes that will last.

What is the profile of consumers driving growth in the menswear market?

While young men aged 16-24 are still keen clothes shoppers, 25-34s have overtaken their younger counterparts to become the most frequent buyers. While there has been a 10-percentage point drop in under-25s purchasing clothes once a month or more since Mintel’s last report, there has been an increase in 25-34s shopping more often.
The economic downturn has impacted the prospects of young people and rising levels of unemployment and an inability to get on the housing ladder have led to more people living at home with their parents. Men aged under-35 who are still living with their parents are the ones continuing to spend a lot. These men are free from immediate financial pressures as they have no mortgage or rent to pay and therefore have more money leftover to spend on fashion. While this has proved positive for leisure industries and the fashion sector, it has made it more difficult for marketers to target this age group as they no longer fit into the description of a typical twenty- or thirty something who is a parent and owns their own home.

The 25-34 age group is expected to rise by 11% between 2012 and 2017, creating an opportunity for the industry to grow sales amongst these men who are less interested in the latest trends than the 16-24s and tend to be buying fewer but better quality items. This age group are the biggest online clothes shoppers and favour multichannel retailers, which is likely to drive sales of online fashion. They are twice as likely as average to buy from higher-priced fashion stores suggesting that multichannel retailers such as Ted Baker, Reiss and Jigsaw could benefit from this growing demographic.

What can retailers do to improve the shopping experience for men?

Today, half of male consumers agree that the in-store shopping environment is important. A similar proportion of men also state that good customer service would encourage them to shop more at a retailer and this attitude also peaks among better-off consumers. These figures highlight the importance of investing in the consumer shopping experience through an improved store environment and the latest technology to entertain male consumers.

Young fashion retailers need to be innovative in terms of design and technology so that young men continue to visit their stores with their friends and buy clothes while they are there. There is scope for some retailers to focus more on turning their stores into retail destinations offering shoppers an outstanding customer experience, where men will visit the store to ask the staff for advice about clothes and then complete the purchase either on an in-store iPad, on their own mobile device or back at home on their laptop.

Tamara Sender is Mintel’s senior fashion analyst, covering all aspects of the UK clothing market. Her analysis is regularly called upon by both national and international media covering the fashion industry. Before joining Mintel in 2010, Tamara worked as a journalist for several national and international titles in both the UK and Latin America.

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