2016 was a great year for menswear, with luxury and high street operators increasing their investment in the sector, making it an ideal subject for our latest white paper (see download links below).

Whether it’s a reaction to the challenges faced in womenswear, or men’s changing attitudes to their appearance, menswear is now firmly in focus for brands targeting ambitious growth. London Fashion Week Men’s earlier this month emphasised this.

Everyone from New Look to Louis Vuitton are creating male-only spaces. As Simon Smith, ex Ben Sherman CEO, so eloquently puts it “women go shopping, a man needs a shirt”. Operators are acknowledging the need to do something different to satisfy these contrasting shopping behaviours; menswear stores require a ‘mission’ focus, clear lines of navigation and efficient service.

The same behavioural principles outlined apply in the digital world. With extensive browsing a turnoff, speed of finding the right product and providing relevant information is critical to converting the male pound online. Online pure players are also tuning into this, with Boohoo.com launching Boohooman.com last March, offering a simplified aesthetic, clearer navigation and guidance through collections and content.

This curation element is critical for reaching young millennial male shoppers, who are looking for guidance from retailers and brands. With the millennial male spending c.60% more per year on clothes than the average man, getting it right with this consumer is key. Young men are more likely to look to store staff and displays for inspiration and c.40% take this a stage further by actively looking for personal styling. It is perhaps unsurprising then that 2016 was a great year for men’s styling services.

In our interview, Thread CEO Kieran O’Neill explains how their combination of technology and human stylists decode fashion for men who want to look good, but don’t have the time or inclination to learn the ‘rules’.

While these are exciting times for menswear, there are challenges in the market. Although consumers aren’t yet telling us that they expect to spend less due to Brexit, the continued uncertainty and rising costs will put pressure on margins and may reduce appetite for risking investment in the relatively small male market. However, with menswear forecast to grow by 4% by 2020, compared to a flat outlook for womenswear, this may be an opportunity brands can’t afford to miss.

If you would like to discuss any of the trends or points raised in this report, or find about our work in this sector, please get in touch with me.

Sara Ghazi-Tabatabai

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