Street style at Milan Fashion Week Men's Fall 2020

Management One, a provider of merchandise intelligence and education for independent retailers, crunched point-of-sale data for men’s apparel and footwear as well as fashion accessories and outdoor products and identified some notable trends for the fourth quarter and full year of 2020.

The data was culled from thousands of points of sale run by independent retailers (in-store and online) in the U.S. and Canada. Among the findings was that, overall, men’s fashion and lifestyle retail dropped 27 percent in 2020 compared to 2019, within the Management One client base.

“Trends improved somewhat in the fourth quarter, when year-over-year sales fell by 19 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2019,” the company said in a statement.

Management One said in its report that the sales decline was not surprising, “given the closure of offices and move toward work-from-home lifestyles” and noted that “the hardest-hit categories were suits, dress pants and dress shirts, which all fell approximately 50 percent year-over-year.” The data also showed that tie sales fell 42 percent.

“Somewhat offsetting the weakness in tailored and formal clothing, sneakers showed 19 percent year-over-year growth for the full year, and a remarkable 62 percent jump in [the fourth quarter], possibly reflecting their popularity as gifts for guys during the holidays,” researchers at the firm said.

Meanwhile graphic Ts and other graphic knits “also showed very strong growth among Management One clients, doubling from 2019 to 2020.”

The report also buttressed what analysts have noted about the explosive growth of the outdoor equipment and apparel industry. “Gear and apparel for solitary outdoor activities also had a strong year, growing 10 percent for the year and 14 percent in [the fourth quarter],” Management One said. “The strongest subcategories within the outdoor category were in boardsports, where sales of wetsuits, boards and surf- and skate-related apparel grew by over 60 percent in 2020 compared to 2019, driven by increased participation.”

Mike Alic, president of Management One, said it was “clearly a tough year for many men’s retailers, particularly those serving the tailored and office-oriented parts of the market.”

“But we were heartened and impressed by our clients’ ability and willingness to adapt,” Alic said. “And thanks to the tools and services Management One provides, we saw great improvements in inventory discipline at our clients, as our retailers kept inventories lean and focused on categories that were moving. That focus on disciplined buying and inventory management meant cash flow held up better than revenues.”

Management One said it will continue to track key statistics for independent retailers, in both menswear and other categories, throughout 2021.