There’s a new male consumer with voracity for innovative design. Here’s what he’s buying.
It’s no longer news to anyone in even the broadest of fashion circles: Men’s wear is having a moment. Bold designers are injecting newness into the once-stagnant category, and the male customer is responding. Men’s wear sales in the U.S. increased 5 percent in 2013, while women’s trailed behind with a 4 percent gain, according to The NPD Group. It’s the same story internationally. According to consulting firm Bain & Co., the global market for men’s wear has been growing at a 4 percent compounded annual growth rate since 2010. Retailers are answering this surge by ensuring that their stores and e-commerce sites are stocked with the designers that resonate with this fashion-hungry customer. Men’s wear buyers reveal who these designers are and which regions are propelling the category’s growth.
Massimiliano De Marianis, men’s wear buyer, LuisaViaRoma, Florence:
“Our male customer is fashion-oriented and knows what he wants. He looks for something special. Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Rick Owens and Balmain are selling well right now. French designer clothing, Givenchy accessories and Saint Laurent shoes are top-selling categories. We will be introducing Massimo Piombo, Kolor, Wooyoungmi and Boris Bidjan Saberi to our assortment. Our top markets are the U.S., China, U.K., Germany and Italy. We’re seeing the most growth in Asia and the U.S. Our Asian customer is buying more fashionable, statement pieces.”
Laure Heriard Dubreuil, cofounder and buyer, The Webster, Miami:
“The growth in men’s wear has made us realize that it’s as important a market as the women’s wear business. We have multiple male shoppers including professional athletes, a large amount of Latin Americans from Brazil and Mexico, New Yorkers who are in Miami for the weekend and Europeans on holiday. Raf Simons, Junya Watanabe Man, Julien David and Visvim are doing well. Shoes and accessories always do well. South America has always been one of our biggest [regions for] growth in terms of shoppers. We’re bringing in Outerknown, Kelly Slater’s new lifestyle brand, and Palm Angels, a label created by Francesco Ragazzi from Moncler and supported by our friend Pharrell Williams.”
Tom Kalenderian, executive vice president, general merchandise manager of men’s, Barneys New York, New York:
“The men’s business is growing and the audience is becoming more diverse. We are attracting new and younger clients that have a strong appetite for designer product. The sales of very forward men’s apparel collections like Hood by Air, Off-White and Fear of God are experiencing great velocity. Designer sneakers from Balenciaga, Margiela and Buscemi are also doing well. Items like the Balenciaga sneaker that is featured in our fashion mailer in a dégradé treatment has nearly sold out. Hood by Air gave exclusivity to Barneys on some graphic printed tees that completely sold through along with a Neoprene sweatshirt with a graphic print on the front. The army green decorated field jacket from Off-White, featured on the cover of the fashion mailer, has sold out already. This season we added Loewe by creative director JW Anderson. For fall we will add the JW Anderson collection. For this spring we also added Tomas Maier, Visvim, Craig Green, Long Journey, Denham Denim, and R13. We are also introducing spring footwear from Hood by Air, Etonic, Article No., Public School, Rip-Off’s, Saturdays Surf and Visvim. Filling Pieces sneakers were requested specifically by clients and we will have them coming in for fall.”
Katherine Yoo, head of merchandising, Thecorner.com, Bologna, Italy:
“Men care much more about their appearance than they used to. They are willing to spend more on quality than in the past, creating a higher demand in terms of men’s fashion. Balmain, Raf Simons, Neil Barrett and emerging brands such as MSGM and Marcelo Burlon are doing well. Sneakers, sweatshirts and sweatpants are top categories. Men are accessories lovers. Japanese and the Italians prefer scarves, as opposed to Americans, French and British, who prefer hats. Shoe preferences also differ from country to country. For example, the lace-up is a favorite shoe style in the U.S. They prefer loafers in Japan and the U.K. They like sneakers in Italy and Spain. The German appreciate booties. The emergence of streetwear and sartorial fashion has impacted our men’s business positively. For this spring season, new brands include Markus Lupfer, Juun.J and Robert Clergerie shoes.”
Philippe Bonnabel, men’s buyer, L’Eclaireur, Paris:
“Men are [becoming] more and more interested in fashion, and they are becoming experts. They are very influenced by the Internet. They look mainly for clothes that are not sold in their countries, and very specific items. Japanese brands and Paul Harnden are doing well. Shoes are doing well. Australians buy Japanese designs. Russian customers will be fond of Boris Bidjan Saberi and Isaac Sellam. Asian clients enjoy Paul Harnden. We will start carrying a new Japanese designer, Anrealage, and English designers Christopher Raeburn and By Walid.”
Damien Paul, head of men’s wear, Matchesfashion.com, London:
“Over the last couple of years we’ve certainly seen the rise of a new type of men’s wear consumer. He has a real appetite for new and cult labels, and for product that isn’t as widely available everywhere else. It’s not about the head-to-toe look. They are looking to mix the bigger brands with lesser-known pieces. Our best-selling styles from these brands are always those that really carry the designers’ signatures. This season, for example, the tie-front pieces that were featured in Craig Green’s runway show were a sellout within the first two weeks of going online. We’re also seeing a strong reaction to pieces with an artisanal feeling. Haider Ackermann’s jacquard outerwear is always among his bestsellers. If it’s the right piece then we really see no barrier on price. We’ve also been receiving a high volume of customer queries about
Lemaire, which is arriving online soon. These designers’ appeal is widespread.
Virginie Sartres, men’s stylist, Le Bon Marché, Paris:
“Our male shopper is well informed about fashion. He loves clothes and likes to know the story behind the brand. The customer is more and more demanding and wants exclusive products. Thom Browne, Ami, Acne, APC, Givenchy, Oliver Spencer, Surface to Air and New Balance sneakers are doing well right now. Trousers, shirts, sneakers by Valentino and Balenciaga, shoulder bags and scarves are selling well. We have realized that clients from the Middle East are looking for formal and custom-made suits, while our Asian clients purchase more fashion-forward, trend pieces. New brands we will start carrying include Sacai, Haider Ackermann and Markus Lupfer.”
Jung Bin Kim, men’s wear buyer, Boon the Shop, Seoul:
“We are seeing an increase of new customers. Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and Valentino have had a constant demand. Recently, young designer brands such as Haider Ackermann and Raf Simons along with street brands Off-White and Hood by Air have shown sales increases as well. Dries van Noten is also selling well. Shoppers are buying skinny denim and jackets by Saint Laurent. Chinese clients show a particular interest in products with strong prints and patterns by Givenchy and Versace. We are considering new brands such as Fear of God, Boris Bidjan Saberi and Craig Green.