September 27, 2012

The Gentlemen's Club

Lately, everyone’s eye (and wallet) is on men's fashion. With an over-saturated women’s market and a new era of fashion forward men, the tables have finally turned. We’ve talked about the rise in popularity of the man bag as well as the menswear luxury boom on previous blogs, and today, we want to take it one step further by connecting all the dots.

photo via GQ

And the best place to start? Fashion Week! This season, despite competition from predominantly womenswear collections, menswear still managed to make major headlines with at least 40 designers showcasing men’s fashions at NYFW. Details magazine even debuted runway shows and presentations to promote the likes of John Bartlett, Gilded Age, Mark McNairy, Bespoken, and Marlon Gobel at the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center.

The distinction arises in the fact that men’s fashion is built around different ideals than women’s. Let’s face it men are just built differently and look to fabric, fit, and quality of construction whereas for women, there is more of a place for creativity and well, sex appeal. The men's fashion scene still has many barriers to break down, away from traditional suiting and casual wear as well as balancing the gap between mid-market retailers and smaller designers.

video via Nordstrom

From a retail perspective, the possibilities are endless. It seems everyone has moved into menswear. Earlier in the month during NYFW, the pop up shop entitled, GQ & Nordstrom Men's Shop opened its doors on the ground level of Treasure & Bond. The concept was developed as a supplement to the "GQ Selects," where each month GQ editors feature merchandise in the magazine that can be purchased directly from the Nordstrom e-commerce site. This strategy not only introduces an omni-channel retail format, but harmonizes both the strengths of print and digital media into one campaign. Additionally, all profits made from the pop-up will be donated to various NY charities, which nonetheless remains at ease with the Treasure & Bond philosophy.

photo via WWD

GQ is also teaming up with is Gap to launch limited edition men's capsule collections highlighting designers Todd Snyder, Mark McNairy, Ian Velardi, Ovadia & Sons, BLK DNM, and Saturdays NYC, which starts today both in stores and online. The collections will include everything from boxer briefs to outerwear with price points at $20-$348. According to the head of merchandising from Gap North America, Mark Breitbard, "Our men's business is very consistent but we think there's a lot more opportunity." He also explained how the designers remained true to their aesthetics while simultaneously incorporating elements of casual American sportswear.

photo via WWD

Other news includes Urban Outfitters introducing it's first menswear only e-catalog this fall featuring talented, stylish, and personable NYC male locals and Sears launching a new line, Outdoor Life, that specifically caters to the "outdoorsman." With this, Sears hopes to capture more cross-shoppers who initially buy hard goods and then move over to the apparel section of the store. Since the entire concept was inspired by the magazine that bears the same name, Outdoor Life, the collection is a mixture of casual sportswear, performance clothing, and hunting and fishing apparel priced from $20-$140. Not to mention, this is where the retailer will push advertising efforts. Again, the presence of print media integrated into retail formats is heavily a focus in the menswear mid-market arena to stimulates exclusivity and incorporate more traditional elements.

photo via The High Low

On the department store front, Bloomingdale's is debuting luxury shops like Gucci, Prada, and Louis Vuitton into its menswear accessory and dress furnishings departments at its flagship here in NY. According to Kevin Harter, vice president and men's fashion director this luxury "arcade" is similar to what the retailer did on its Lexington Ave side of the store in the women's department.

photo via Gentlemint

So what about men and social media? Well besides the everyday Facebook and Twitter of course, there is Gentlemint. Described as the "Pinterest for manly things," this social media platform is pretty much what you expect with a tiled layout and visually driven content. While the site is welcoming to women, the actual pictures posted say it all, with things like electronics, cars, jet skis, and beer. While the founders never had intentions for it to have a significant user base, they've had to moderate entry and place tens of thousands of people on waiting lists.

video via youtube

Despite, such a movement towards technology and the online world in the womenswear market, the menswear world seems to be taking a more traditional route. While there is a digital presence, print media, traditional advertising, and looking to more established brands seems to be more effective. However, as this fashion forward male consumer continues to get savvier and more interested in standing out, we will begin to see a rise in the popularity of more smaller menswear design houses as well as more innovative retail concepts like that of GQ & Nordstrom. Obviously there is major growth in menswear overall so things just have to evolve and we suspect, this market will pick up speed quickly. Lastly, we'd like to leave you with a fun little video from the founders of Cool Hunting as they offer menswear advice on how to pack using Tumi's menswear travel bag, the safari duffel

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