As innovative and versatile as it is, men’s fashion doesn’t seem to be getting the hype and interest it deserves. Why is that you ask- well the situation is rather complex. Fashion is a reflection of societies values and when it comes to menswear keeping it simple and understated was always the way forward.
Even as the smaller market, men’s fashion has been growing at an alarming pace. The new man, a more sophisticated and less anxious consumer about buying into the idea of fashion, has emerged increasing demand. Thomas Chauvet, a luxury goods analyst in London investment bank Citi said “luxury men’s wear growth is still expected to outperform women’s wear”.
But why is there still a smaller spotlight on this area of the industry- well, it’s an industry built on what women want and how they see fashion. Men have previously had little to no interest in fashion letting it adapt and grow into a female dominated industry. It simply doesn’t share the same fashion podium as womenswear.
Keeping in mind that men are subject to a different kind of scrutiny- The pressure to look a certain way is something new to men. Something prompted by the change in work wear and gender fluidity. Often seen as boring, menswear mainly consisted of suits and functional attire, work wear. However, the more casual approach has led to a freedom allowing exploration of one’s style resulting in a more daring outcome.
As wonderful at the change is, interest in menswear is still on the low side with majority of the coverage following the happenings in womenswear.
The basis of shopping or showing off the next season’s biggest trend relies heavily on the fact that women are browsers. They can spend a high amount of time just looking where as men are less fond of it and are often hindered by choice – for example fashion shows, it’s live browsing and stores are filled with endless rows of clothing. It’s every women’s heaven. Where women would be able to shop for up to two hour’s men would only last about 26 minutes before boredom hits.
On the upside the rise in blogs and different social media platforms to promote men’s fashion is new and seems to be working however the majority of the hype is still reserved for women. Women have had fashion media longer than men resulting in them falling behind, almost becoming irrelevant and an afterthought.
Menswear was once impervious to trends, a world where men bought suits and were not seen as fickle or trend driven. Fashion for men is different they need to be reassured about the brand says Panconesi to Esquire. The process is much slower which some would see as men’s fashion becoming stagnant, which is what actually happened. Men’s clothing became dull with the same outfit being churned out every season and men showing little interest.
Men were never fashion focused however even with the growth and rise in interest, a high number of fashion shows are being cancelled. Runway giants such as Burberry, Gucci, Bottega and Veneta have all opted
for joint men and women shows. This may be a strategy to use the spotlight on womenswear but the men’s calendar suffers because of it. Thinning out an already weak area. A low number of what would be classed as your “normal man” attend these shows, due to some thinking it’s a more artistic platform rather than an everyday wear.
Looking on the bright side those in fashion feel the interest is still on the rise, ‘men are becoming more interested in menswear- or at least aware of it’ said Eliza Brooke to Racked.
Jan Deleon of Highsnobiety and WGSN said ‘the directional men’s stuff often follows what influential womenswear designers are doing. On the flip side women have loved men’s clothes from the start’ further showing the effect and influence women have.
Maybe men are only interested in fashion when they can see themselves as the counterpart to the bit of theatre being played out. Perhaps a reason why straight men are rarely drawn to design yet there is a long history of straight fashion photographers. Christopher Brooks said to Bazaar.
Disagreeing with them Patrick grant menswear designer said, standing out is ‘deeply ingrained into the psyche, a lot of us (British men) grow up in uniform and we’re conditioned not to make a great fuss out of things.’ He continued saying 99 per cent of men want to go unnoticed in terms of what they wear, ‘the idea is that to be well dressed we have to be unremarkable, in the nicest sense. Even if some men are more open to experiment, I don’t think that’s going to change, really. Simple, well-made, unflashy clothes still sell very well.’
Maybe the main cripple in the men’s industry is the belief that men should claim to be uninterested, appearing not to care. If so, then the ending of a number men’s fashion magazines due to a lack of interest, for example Details, is the least of their worries.