April 14, 2009

News flash: Menswear sales are up!

Yes, you read that right – UP. In this market. 

Tom Ford and Lanvin menswear designer Lucas Ossendrijver declare in Saturday's Financial Times that this is because men shop for necessary things, whereas women shop for recreation. This from the purveyors of extremely necessary $10,000 fur boots and T-shirts "decorated with a bib of wooden beads", respectively…

Still, one can't entirely fault their logic. Let's face it, men have (for the most part) been keeping their closets pared to the essentials, which means that if something wears out, they have to buy a new one, no matter how gloomy the economic outlook. Women, on the other hand, all have giant closets like Sarah Jessica Parker's in the "Sex and the City" movie, and can always dig into their bottomless archives to find something to wear. 

Okay, not exactly; but for years, retailers have been encouraging women to buy, buy, buy for each of the year's 12 seasons, er, months, and for all of the current trends. And here's where that business strategy defeats itself: Women now have enough clothes, and are well able to opt out of shopping when the going gets tough. So they're staying home in droves, and organizing clothing swaps with their friends – bad news for the retailers who sold them too many clothes in the first place! Case in point: H&M, whose sales are currently down 5 percent, apparently due to consumers' developing distaste for fast, disposable fashion.

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