Britain’s young men lift sales of manbags: a quarter of UK men aged 16-34 bought one in 2017

February 16, 2018

It’s been a long time coming, but finally British men have joined their European counterparts. Mintel’s report on fashion accessories published today, at the start of London Fashion Week, reveals the manbag has become a must-have accessory for the nation’s young men.

Mintel research finds the manbag’s popularity has grown significantly in recent years, as Britain’s young men join the likes of David Beckham, Kanye West and Ryan Gosling. Indeed, in 2017 nearly a quarter (24%) of British men aged 16-34 bought a manbag*, a figure which has increased significantly since 2016 when just 16% of 16-34s bought one.

But while young males have boosted the popularity of the manbag, it seems they are not alone as overall one in seven (15%) British men bought a manbag in 2017. Meanwhile, more than half (54%) of British women bagged a bag last year. The handbag market now accounts for 50% of fashion accessory sales, outperforming all other fashion accessory categories**, growing by 5.5% during 2017 to reach a stylish £1.45 billion, up from £1.37 billion in 2016.

Tamara Sender, Mintel Senior Fashion analyst, said:

“Manbags have become increasingly accepted by Britain’s men. There has been a growing trend for backpack-style bags, many of which are unisex in style and, therefore, appeal to young men. The popularity of manbags among young men has also benefited the premium end of the market, as our research finds men favour buying designer brands for themselves over own-brand bags. We’re also seeing more designer brands investing in their menswear offering, with Stella McCartney adding menswear for the first time in late 2016, which includes different styles of manbags. Designer handbag sales as a whole have benefited from an increase in inbound tourism spend as more overseas consumers visited the UK in 2017, taking advantage of the more favourable exchange rate following the EU referendum.”

Boost to buying British

There’s good news for the British fashion industry, with Mintel research revealing as many as 40% of fashion accessory purchasers say that they would be willing to pay more for these items if they’re made in Britain.

Last year, Brits spent £2.9 billion on fashion accessories, with the market growing by 3.6% between 2016-17, up from £2.8 billion in 2016. Over the past five years, sales of fashion accessories have increased 21% when the market was valued at £2.4 billion in 2012.

The top five accessories bought by Brits in 2017 were:

  • handbags/manbags (34%)
  • belts (27%)
  • scarves (23%)
  • gloves (21%)
  • hats (21%)

Meanwhile, just three in 10 (31%) Brits say they didn’t purchase a fashion accessory in 2017.

Finally, over half (52%) of fashion accessories shoppers make their purchases online, peaking among Millennials aged 18-37 (59%). Online-only retailers are the most popular places to buy fashion accessories online, with almost three fifths (59%) of online shoppers buying from one of these websites.

“British fashion accessory producers have a great opportunity to make the most of the patriotic trend, with four in 10 shoppers willing to pay more to support home-grown talent, particularly those in the more affluent AB socio-economic group. This forms part of a larger trend for consumers placing greater importance on provenance and expecting more transparency from the fashion industry.” Tamara concludes.

* includes manbags and handbags bought between Oct 2016 and Oct 2017
** includes handbags and manbags, costume jewellery, belts, scarves, hats, gloves, ties and hair accessories

Research was carried out among 2,000 internet users aged 16+ in October 2017.

Press copies of Fashion Accessories UK report and interviews with Tamara Sender, Senior Fashion Analyst, are available on request from the press office.

Susanna Capecchi
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