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When you see a voucher code or an advertised discount deal targeted towards fashion, how often do you consider that to include men’s fashion? Are we still gender neutral in our associations of and towards the fashion industry, or has the use of terminology created a world in which men’s fashion is something now regarded as its own entity operating under the Fashion umbrella?
The fact is, as an industry men’s fashion and menswear is growing, and yet the market is still being served by a great deal of fewer specific brands than those which serve women’s fashion and ladieswear. Is that because men simply like what they know and have come to trust a handful of high end brands such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and TM Lewis? Or is it because breaking into the men’s fashion industry is a harder task than entering the already saturated women’s market? After all, you only need to look at the layout of a typical high street retailer in order to see that women’s fashion dominates most of the shop floor while a mere handful of racks of men’s fashion are relegated to the back shelves in the corner of the shop.
How, then, has men’s fashion become such an integral part of the fashion industry as a whole, when we as a population seem intent on stifling it and leaving it to celebrate its own small amount of success from the confines of a shop floor corner?
The success of the men’s fashion industry comes largely from the famous faces, associations and sponsorships which are used by brands and retailers to prop up their offerings and introduce men to different styles and trends. It will come as no surprise to customers and readers that one of the main buyer groups for men’s fashion is actually women, with female shoppers also being the main driver for the success of discounts, deals, vouchers and coupons – primarily because they are the ones who spend the time browsing and coming across these sorts of deals. Men, as a species, are very much “get in and get it done” when it comes to shopping – a generalisation perhaps, but one which seems incredibly apt when you look around the shop floor of any high street or designer retailer and see men sat on the shoe bench while women browse on their behalf.
That’s where the famous faces and influencers come in – with some of the most recent trends including Kanye West’s fashion line, Drake’s fashion line, and pretty much any brand with David Beckham’s face on it – whether it is his own brand or one which he is being paid to endorse. And then you have those faces and names who are simply brought on by a brand to promote and become the iconic face behind the brand name – operating in largely the same way as in any other industry, though in men’s fashion the message is simple: buy this product or wear this brand, and you can be like me. Popular examples of this simple line of marketing include the age-old use of James Bond actors to endorse fashion lines and lifestyle accessories, the use of footballers and other famous sportsmen to promote sporting apparel lines, and the use of male models to sell fashion line perfumes and accessories.
Despite popular belief being that women are more influenced by celebrity culture than men, in the fashion industry it appears as those men are far more likely to support and buy from a brand that has celebrity backing than one which they haven’t heard of before – especially if it is being endorsed or modelled by a celebrity influencer they admire or a sports personality they regard highly.
Look at it this way – if you have a voucher for a store and you know you want to buy something for a specific occasion using your voucher, would you be likely to head online and browse through an ecommerce avenue, or will you take the time out to visit the shops and try garments on?
If you are a female, you are likely to have answered with the latter – taking time out of your day to ensure the perfect fit and style. If you are a man however, you are more likely to simply head online and look for items which look good on others – likening your own physique to a model on the website and ultimately selecting something which you feel will be “good enough”.
The way that men and women shop is wildly different – and that’s why the men’s fashion industry varies so hugely with regards to marketing style and industry trend when compared with the women’s fashion industry.
And it’s not just the marketing which differs. Another standout trend within the men’s fashion sector and particularly when compared with women’s fashion, is the way in which male designers, influential names and creators are heralded by the marketplace and the media. Men who enter the fashion sector and make waves within the industry are regarded highly, being told they are creative and inspirational, no matter what their concept and ideas rely on. Calvin Klein, for example, is often regarded as a “boundary crosser” and a gamechanger, despite the fact that all his infamous brand makes is simple underwear and sporting apparel. Compare this to female designers who are described as quiet and comfortable, and you start to become aware of the huge gender void which is being created within the fashion sector alone.
As previously explored, the top performing brands in the men’s fashion sector as often those which either provide or suit a certain need, or which are marketed in such a way that they stand out as easy to wear and easy to purchase. This relates back to user experience, with some of the top brands within the men’s fashion industry earning their spot simply because of some great targeted marketing and innovative concepts:
Surprised to see how many of these also appear in women’s fashion lists? You shouldn’t be – so many of the top retailers and brands are up there because they cater for both genders and for those who identify as gender neutral – it is simply that the men’s fashion lines don’t get as much press, advertising or publicity. And that is all down to the fact that men simply engage with brands in a different way.
Look at social media by way of an example. Instagram and Facebook are packed full of women’s fashion brands plugging different looks and fashions for different occasions – identifying every single event and day of note within the calendar and producing a targeted ad for it. In the men’s fashion market, this simply doesn’t happen – men are happy to browse at their own will and do not respond in the same way to tons of targeted ads.
Unlikely to willingly or voluntarily change their shopping habits, some of the most popular gift cards for the men’s fashion sector include those which tailor to and allow purchase across a range of stores – letting the user shop in the store of his choice rather than pushing him towards a certain retailer. While for women the idea of an open gift card to any store opens up new possibilities and brands to try, for men it is an opportunity to choose to shop at a location that they know and trust.
As there is so much crossover between men’s fashion and women’s fashion, it follows that many of the gift cards available for purchase – and many of the vouchers and deals applicable to different retailers and brands – are suitable for men’s fashion purchases as well as women’s fashion. Thus, the range of gift cards which are available are wide ranging and broad.
Some of the most popular brands offering gift card allowances include:
The men’s fashion industry may not be as wide ranging as women’s fashion, but it still boasts a variety of different sectors which brands and retailers can either choose to specialise in, integrate within their own ranges, or else completely skate past in order to focus on something else more specific.
A great example of a men’s fashion retailer with a specific niche is TM Lewin, specialising in suits and suit shirts, so much so that it has succeeded in making a name for itself as one of the go-to suit providers of the high street. The fact that TM Lewin have expanded their collection to encompass affordable and more high end options, as well as branching into relevant accessories like ties and cufflinks, seems to have only furthered the brands’ success.
Similarly, Nike as one of the world’s largest retail brand names, specialises in the provision of sporting apparel and has become a go-to in the world of sports’ team shirts, active wear and trainers.
To break the men’s fashion sector down further is to explore and understand the most popular products and define exactly what kind of man is seeking those items as part of their own image. It is only when you know who your target customer is that you can attempt to market to them.
The most important sectors in the men’s fashion market are:
When it comes to the way that men shop, a great deal of research has been done to determine ecommerce and instore interaction, providing a series of stats and facts which highlight the differences between male and female shopping and giving brands plenty information and insight to help them in targeting and understanding their customer base.
For those brands which choose to use this insight and tailor their shopping experience for the male customer, the simple fact is that they are likely to drive more success more quickly than if they give men the same experience as they give to women. This means streamlining the online buying process, ensuring that every element of the site is optimised for fast browsing and goal orientated shopping, and providing information in short bursts rather than lengthy product descriptions.
Other observations within the men’s fashion marketing trends include:
In an industry that is set to grow further in the next five years, particularly with millennials searching for purchases and products that give them that luxury lifestyle they are looking for, knowing which areas are going to grow is anyone’s guess. Fashion is a constantly changing landscape with trend and season playing a huge part in what is popular and what is not – so much so that lines and collections which are popular one year could sit and be left on a shelf the next year, simply due to a slight change in what is perceived as fashionable over the course of the 12 month shift.
One of the best ways for men’s fashion brands to get their name out there is to invest heavily in the value of deal and voucher promotion, giving men and their partners reason to browse with them – if only to spend or utilise a voucher. Once you’ve got them on your site, that’s half the work done – the rest is all about capturing them and giving them such a great experience that they become a repeat customer.
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