Comfort meets style as casualization takes hold of the US men's clothing market

April 6, 2016

In recent years, there has been growing interest among the US men’s clothing market in casual wear, however, men aren’t necessarily sacrificing style for comfort. New research from Mintel reveals that two thirds (66 percent) of men say they are stylish, with over half (52 percent) dressing for comfort over style.

As highlighted by the Mintel Trend Life – An Informal Affair, rules about what’s acceptable in behavior and attire have shifted to a more casual approach. The most commonly purchased men’s clothing items include casual and relaxed articles such as t-shirts (77 percent) and jeans (73 percent), further evidence of this evolving trend. What’s more, just two in five men purchased a suit (43 percent) or sport coat (40 percent) in 2015.

33% of male clothing shoppers plan to spend more on clothing this year

Although a trend toward casual wear may suggest lower spend on clothing, of the 90 percent of men who purchase clothing, one third (33 percent) plan to spend more on clothing this year. What’s more, Mintel research reveals that nearly two thirds of male clothing shoppers love (32 percent) or like (32 percent) shopping for clothes.

“A trend is occurring in the US men’s clothing market in which style is evolving beyond dressy attire. Men are embracing a cross between style and comfort and are stepping up their casual wear to accomplish more formal looks,” said Rupa Ghosh, Travel, Leisure and Retail Analyst at Mintel. “Top clothing purchases of t-shirts and jeans support the notion that casualization in both personal and professional life is becoming the norm. This may lead to more smart-casual dressing as casual styles mainstream and men look to options that are unique without sacrificing comfort. Apparel brands that offer stylish and personalized casual attire are likely to appeal to style-conscious men who also value comfort.”

Mintel research reveals that the US men’s clothing market reached $67.1 billion in 2015, primarily driven by in-store sales. In fact, 84 percent of men buy clothes in-store compared to 54 percent who make online purchases. Whether in-store or online, men are taking cost-saving measures, as more than half (55 percent) of male clothing shoppers try to buy their clothes on sale. What’s more, men are making the majority of their purchases at value (34 percent) and discount (15 percent) retailers.

While men are much more likely to shop in-store for clothing, technology is having an impact on their retail routines. Among 25-34 year old men’s clothing shoppers, nearly one quarter (23 percent) are interested in receiving special offers on their smartphone when shopping in-store (vs 13 percent of men’s clothing shoppers overall). What’s more, social media users are more active men’s clothing shoppers, as 93 percent of male social media users purchased clothes for themselves in 2015 compared to 75 percent of non-social media users.

“While half of men are purchasing at least some of their clothes online, the vast majority rely on the traditional route of shopping in stores. Men also show interest in leveraging the latest technology to make shopping easier and more cost-effective. Omnichannel marketing efforts offer brands the chance to connect with consumers and enhance the shopping experience whether shopping online, on social media or at a retailer,” continued Ghosh.

Men are also interested in innovation to alleviate common clothes shopping challenges such as finding clothing with the right fit. Indeed, one third (34 percent) of male clothing shoppers are interested in complimentary alterations. In line with men striving to look unique (21 percent), one quarter (24 percent) are interested in options that allow them to personalize clothing to help them differentiate themselves from peers. Mintel research also reveals that three in 10 (29 percent) US men would be more receptive to shopping online for clothing if there was sizing technology to ensure online clothing purchases fit their measurements.

“Our research shows that the majority of men perceive themselves as stylish, but further innovation is needed to ease concerns that exist around finding the right fit and personalizing clothing selections. Americans increasingly expect customization to meet their individual needs, and men are no exception as many embrace the clothes shopping process and look to stand out from their peers,” concluded Ghosh.

Press copies of the Men’s Clothing US 2016 report and interviews with Rupa Ghosh, Travel, Leisure and Retail Analyst, are available on request from the press office.

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For the latest in consumer and industry news, top trends and market perspectives, stay tuned to Mintel News featuring commentary from Mintel’s team of global category analysts.

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