Retail is evolving — from the onset of experience-first stores to the integration of new technologies like smart displays and self-checkout — the shopping experience has been elevated. During this retail evolution, a new X-factor has emerged which at its core affects strategy and tactics for customer engagement: the appearance by a seemingly unexpected demographic — the male shopper.
With the entire menswear market expected to surpass womenswear by 2021, luxury brands and mainstream retailers alike are looking to foster the male interest in fashion. For example, Nike has launched a new collection of yogawear for men and Nordstrom opened specialized experience shops for men in major markets like New York City and Chicago. Luxury fashion house LVMH heavily invested in the male fashion market by hiring visionary Virgil Abloh, bringing a modern and creative twist to Louis Vuitton’s men’s label.
How We Got Here: Ushering In An Era Of Male Fashion Empowerment
The past decade has been a time of massive growth for menswear that has been facilitated through the popularity of streetwear brands and sneaker culture. Now men are empowered to show their personality and clout through their outfits. They’re shopping with brands like Dapper Dan and Billionaire Boys Club, where they’re spending on a sweatshirt and the latest sneakers what they would have on a suit 10 years ago.
In 2019, it’s not only acceptable for men to follow avant-garde fashion trends and streetwear culture, it’s almost as if they’ve fallen out of touch with society if they don’t. Men are finding themselves encouraged to bolster their wardrobes and invest in high-end statement pieces, similar to the way women have been for years. The entire concept of being a ‘well-dressed man’ has changed, and men are spending more money on clothes and more time engaging with their favorite brands. This provides a massive opportunity for shrewd retailers that are able to capitalize on this desire.
Another elevation of “men’s fashion” has affected all genders. The rise of ungendered or unisex clothing across aforementioned street style has greatly impacted dressing for all people in the know. TillyandWilliam and OneDNA are just a few of the brands addressing this gender-neutral market. But even looking at the latest Justin Bieber line, Smiley-Faced Clothing, it’s easy to see that the inspiration isn’t so much men’s street wear as “all people street wear,” with a decidedly Southern California vibe. As men of all ages start branching out beyond traditional gendered clothing tropes, expect to see these brands edge more firmly into the mainstream.
Sneaker Culture And Exclusivity
From Yeezy to the latest Nikes, the idea of being a ‘sneakerhead’ is a phenomenon on its own because it has turned into a symbol of one’s personality. Sneakerheads, and the “Hype Beast” culture they have spawned, have also led directly to a rise in retail spending for men. Retailers like Nike have brilliantly capitalized on the power of the shoe by implementing the sneaker “drop” concept. Through creating hype with celebrity endorsements/lines and limited-editions, there is a sense of urgency to have the latest shoe. During these drops, you can find consumers waiting in hour-long lines just to have the chance to purchase a pair, or paying upwards of twice the retail price to buy it from a reseller. These drops have proved a fruitful retail strategy in menswear.
How Retailers Can Take Advantage Of The Trend
Menswear poses a massive opportunity for retailers across the board, but only if they smartly consider how to alter their brand’s shopping experiences to cater to men, or just fans of men’s fashion. Studies show that traditionally, men are quicker when it comes to their shopping habits — meaning that lavish displays or an overwhelming amount of choices may not be the key to men’s business. Instead, retailers are more likely to grab their attention — and their investment — by offering spaces that provide them with a completed “look.” What’s more, the creation of men’s-centric experience stores that give them a chance to have efficient yet enjoyable shopping opportunities could be exactly where the savviest retailers find the largest opportunity.
Maya Mikhailov is the Co-Founder and CMO of GPShopper, a Synchrony Financial company, dedicated to helping retailers create strategic mobile programs that speak to the experiences and lifestyles consumers are looking for. She is responsible for working with Fortune 500 retailers and brands to craft digital strategies that redefine the way they approach their businesses and interact with consumers, including the mobile payment experience and leveraging loyalty programs.