When we think of the increasingly popular fashion flash-sale sites like Gilt Groupe and Hautelook, most people imagine uber-feminine “Sex and the City” types hunting for bargains while at work. But this is an unfair generalization, largely because it completely overlooks a significant demographic: Men.
While the majority of flash-sale shoppers are women, it is important to note that men are now shopping in much greater numbers – and the major flash-sale sites know it.
In July, Gilt will launch a new site just for men with items at full-price. That’s right, no sale. Gilt is confident that men will shop online without the incentive of a discount – just for fun, perhaps. This will be in addition to Gilt MAN, a men-only website that Gilt created in 2009.
According to the company, now 26 per cent of its 3.5 million plus members are men, and the average male member is 30 years old and has a household income of $100,000.
John Auerbach, who has worked on the Gilt MAN team and has been with Gilt since its inception, said that Gilt MAN not only has a large membership, but its members are engaged as well. He cited the fact that Gilt MANual, a blog on the Gilt MAN site that provides style advice, has a steady readership.
“I don’t think shopping will ever be the pastime for men that it is for women,” said Auerbach, who will lead the new full-price division, “but men are increasingly taking charge of their wardrobe decisions.”
With Gilt’s full-price website for men, it is following in the footsteps of Bonobos, the men’s e-tailer that started in 2007 by selling its own comfortably-fitting pants. Now, Bonobos is undoubtedly a full-fledged online men’s clothing and accessories store. Everything it sells is at full price. Suit pants go for as much as $175; wingtip shoes are $335. Bonobos sells bags by Jack Spade and loafers by Timberland, as well as lesser-known designers like Mark McNairy.
While Auerbach wouldn’t say what percentage of Gilt’s revenue comes from Gilt MAN, he said that “it’s a material part of our business.”
For JackThreads, a flash-sale website established in 2008, men’s sales make up the entirety of the business. It was founded by Jason Ross, from Columbus, Ohio, who loved lesser-known designer brands of men’s “street” style clothing, but couldn’t find a place to buy them at a discount.
“From day one, I did a lot of research and found that there are a lot of people like me,” Ross said. But not so many from Ohio. Ross later found that the majority of his customers live in southern California and New York City.
So Ross started developing relationships with his favourite brands and began to sell items at a discount on his site. He decided to advertise with Thrillist.com, which blasts daily emails of recommendations to an urban, male audience.
“Thrillist readers converted into JackThreads consumers,” Ross said.
This led to a partnership between the two companies and then an eventual acquisition of JackThreads by Thrillist in 2010. Since the acquisition, Ross said that the clothing and accessory site has grown 15 to 20 per cent a month. He said they expect to cross the $20 million revenue mark this year and they expect to have one million members by June.
If these projections are right and the men’s e-tailing market continues to grow, we may see more acquisitions of companies like JackThreads in the future.
“The key fact is that more guys are more aware and interested in fashion,” Ross said.
And he credited social media for this. “A fashion show now can be tweeted and facebooked in seconds.”
It’s questionable how many guys are at their office computers waiting to hear what happened at the latest fashion show in Milan, but there certainly seems to be a rising interest in fashion among men.
Disclosure: Gilt Groupe shares a cofounder and an investor or two with Business Insider.