Improved shopping experience driving menswear sales, says new research

Better clothing designs, more styling options and an improved shopping experience are all helping to drive men’s fashion sales, reveals new research from the Fashion Retail Academy.

The menswear sector grew by 22 per cent in 2018 while womenswear sales increased by only 8 per cent in comparison.

Based on study of 2,000 male shoppers, it found that the number of men spending up to £50 a month on clothing has grown in the last five years. Meanwhile, although the frequency men buy clothes has remained largely the same, they are enjoying the shopping experience more. 

The biggest sea change in attitudes towards men’s clothing is being driven by the high street. One in five (20 per cent) men say that shops are making more of a concerted effort to appeal to them than five years ago – while a third (34.6 per cent) applaud the efforts of shops to improve the in-store experience specifically for men.

A further quarter (24.6 per cent) believe that menswear is now better designed, while three in 10 (29.1 per cent) say that there are simply more options available for men today. 

These changes to the shopping experience mean that men feel more comfortable in high street stores than they did five years ago, with 17.1 per cent saying they are now much happier to shop alone without a friend or partner, or are more likely to go in-store than buy online. 

An additional one in 10 (10.2 per cent) men say they now buy their own clothes when they would have relied on a friend or partner five years ago. 

Anthony McGrath, H.E. Fashion Lecturer at the Fashion Retail Academy, comments: “For a number of years, the male customer has been ignored by a large number of retailers, choosing to concentrate on the very visible female demographic, believing that males were simply not interested in either ‘shopping’ or an enhanced in-store experience.

“However, this notion has well and truly been cast aside as the male consumer’s buying habits and demands have evolved – which is playing out in the massive growth in menswear sales, particularly in the last year.

“There are a number of contributing factors to the success of this segment – men are increasingly willing to ‘push the envelope’ in their clothing choices, stepping out of what once was considered their comfort zones. This is being driven by retailers who are making a concerted effort to get under the skin and truly understand what their male customers want, while at the same time ensuring that the shopping experience is less intimidating.  

“As a result, male customers will no longer just put up with being the poor relative of their female counterparts. Men are after their own retail emporiums which cater more directly to their needs and wants. Plus, the ideal of a significant female purchasing clothing for a man is definitely an antiquated concept and has rightfully been banished to the realms of gender stereotypes.”