It’s like all of a sudden we woke up one morning and the guys who thought they were killing the style game in a pair of wide-leg jeans and a pinstriped, button-down shirt the night before, started buying pocket squares and making appointments to get custom blazers fitted.
That’s how quickly it happened. That’s how quickly men found style.
And what seemed like the day after the pocket-square rush, HSBC wrote a report about this new kind of man called the Yummy — a young urban male with disposable income that he disposes of on clothes and accessories. These guys buy the good stuff, too. Last year Bain reported that men account for 40% of the total luxury market and the demand for menswear products keeps on growing.
The question is, why now?
The answer is that the Internet has changed an experience men hate — shopping.
“We’ve been slammed with men,” said Michelle Goad, founder of shopping app PS Dept. It’s an app that looks like Instagram, but every picture is an item that you can buy in a few clicks. Plus, there’s a personal shopper that you can message for help with anything you’re looking for.
“It’s like they’re ordering pizza on this thing, but instead it’s Prada suits,” Goad continued.
If you work at a bank here in New York City, PS Dept. will make sure that whatever you buy gets to you the same day. If you don’t like it, returns are free.
PS Dept. is just one example of how the Internet has completely changed shopping — or for our purposes, the barrier between men and style.
Now instead of entering a store, finding your size, getting thirsty, not finding your size, having to pee, trying things on, losing your girlfriend/sister/mother in another store full of teenagers and just being bored in general, men need only scroll and click to get what they want.
So now they want things.
It’s a revolution that some in the fashion industry saw coming a mile away. Take Nick Graham for instance, the man who founded the now-ubiquitous Joe Boxer. When he started Joe Boxer, 80% of men’s underwear was bought by women. Now that’s down to 20%.
After that experience, Graham knows how to notice when the tide is turning, and he sees it turning now. It’s prompted him to go back into fashion and start a new Nick Graham line sold only online.
“Men’s wear sales at some of the contemporary Web sites that carry both men’s and women’s are 50 per cent higher in comparison to the off-line sales of women’s apparel,” he wrote in Women’s Wear Daily last summer. “If total women’s clothing sales in the U.S. are about $US120 billion, and men’s are about $US60 billion, does that mean that men’s has a $US30 billion upside if there were more fashion for them to buy?”
Maybe. And more importantly, the companies that figure out how to create the best experience for men will stand to gain a lot. Why? Because they’re loyal shoppers.
“We’re a service, not a retailer, so if we recommend bad items we don’t have clients,” said Goad. “Once you pull a good suit for a man, though, you can pull for them forever.”
If guys like an item’s fit or style, they will go back again and again. To get to that point, though it’s all about simplifying the experience.
How simple is this: Yuvi Alpert has a men’s accessories line called Men In Cities. Everything on the site is $US40. Nine new items are introduced to the site on the first of every month (you can get an email about it if you want).
Alpert says that one of his goals with the way Men In Cities is set up is to “simplify discovery.”
“I wanted to create a place where you don’t spend more than a few minutes on the site,” he said.
In his mind, men should always be finding new favourites and buying them over and over again. That’s what they like to do, after all, and so retailers should conform to that and make it simple. The Internet makes that possible.
And with that, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Internet, personally.
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