Making the World More Beautiful: One Well-Dressed Guy at a Time
Men. Looking Good In-Transit
Lots of space is filled with recommendations on how to improve city streets, redesign our living space, declutter our cabinets and closets, and how to recycle – everything. However, there is not enough space or time devoted to making the world more beautiful, by enhancing the appearance of the species that dominates the planet…men!
According to the world’s statistics, there are more men than women in the world today. The UN estimates (2017) there are approximately 3,776,294,273 (3.77 billion) men, in comparison to approximately 3,710,295,643 (3.71 billion), women. It is estimated that 107 boys are born for every 100 girls born (National Academy of Science, 2015). Because there are more of them then “us” – it is their duty and responsibility to make the world a more beautiful place!
Appeal of Apparel
The excellent news is that men are taking note of their appearance and thanks to social media and the softening of “dress codes,” the guys are putting more time and effort into looking good. Although I have yet to actually see it for myself, the research finds that men are making the effort to improve their appearance and the guys are actually reading magazines, visiting websites, watching social media, and taking an interest in the clothes they are wearing.
This new interest is evidenced by a 14 percent growth in the industry which is expected to reach $33 billion by 2020; in fact, menswear is growing faster than womenswear and the luxury market.
Men are showing interest in colors, patterns, mixing tailored with technical, vintage with traditional, and seizing the creative opportunities available regardless of age, income or job.
Thanks to the Industry
The fact that the designers of menswear are offering clothing lines that are approachable, interesting and comfortable is allowing men to cautiously accept the idea that being “fashionable” is a good idea. Since they are not being locked-in to a particular style and “permitted” to create their own definition of being “well-dressed,” there is likely to be a stylish guy at the end of the shopping adventure.
Men and Malls
Meander through any shopping center, strip mall or shopping street and it will be evident that the amount of floor space, number of shops, and amount of merchandise currently dedicated to male apparel shoppers is limited, compared with female clothing consumers. The existing differences are caused by the fact that women have, historically, spent more time shopping; however, this is changing.
Research shows that only 17 percent of men in a national survey really enjoyed shopping; however, 29 percent “agreed somewhat” to shop, and 37 percent agreed they will shop for fashion. In order to address this change in attitude, there is a need for fashion-oriented retailers to constantly stay abreast of the growing interest of men toward colors, styles and trends. Traditionally, men’s apparel has changed much slower than women’s apparel but this is changing as the men’s fashion life-cycle becomes more compressed.
Both male and female consumers decide what to buy based on information received from individuals whom they respect, including mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers, colleagues as well as groups they belong to, or aspire to. Research suggests that in-person sources of information (i.e., spouse or peers) are used when making the decision to purchase a conspicuous and high social risk item, such as a suit. Male consumers were more likely to seek information from friends than from others with whom they have little in common.
Other sources of product information include non-personal cues presented in advertising, store displays and salesperson interactions. Younger male consumers rely more on personal information sources than older adult male consumers. Adult male consumers who shop frequently for apparel items tend to use promotional cues more often than adult male consumers who shop infrequently.
Online Sales Increase
Between the first quarter of 2013 and 2016, the 10 biggest luxury menswear retailers (including Barneys, Saks and Harrods) grew 100 percent online. The 10 biggest retailers, (including Brooks Brothers, Tommy Hilfiger and Ted Baker), grew 268 percent.
Reuters finds that streetwear and a shift to casual are driving sales of men’s clothing, from budget to luxury; for example, the debut collection by designer Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton menswear and sneakers by Dior and Sacai.
The men’s footwear and apparel industry will be worth in excess of $460 billion by 2020, 25 times NASA’s annual budget. The sneaker culture, combined with relaxed dressing and technical capabilities have changed menswear, perhaps forever. Fashion/style conscious men do not have to show their good taste with tailoring as the activewear’s profile lift means more opportunities as decisions are matched with their functional lives.
Reaching the Guy
Many current consumers are discovering brands and products thanks to social media; however, menswear brands and products have been slow to recognize this channel. They have not been posting content on Instagram (where 24 percent of American men are active), although Hugo Boss and Supreme have been identified as having “exemplary” Instagram content while Brioni and Dunhill are considered “laggards.”
Moving beyond Instagram, Facebook and YouTube – where should menswear be seen? Recommendations include Reddit (users are heavily male and the site hosts a large number of fashion-specific forums). Although Influencers are losing some of their power, they still have clout as do celebrities, athletes, and musicians. It is important to note that men are less likely to respond to discounts and special sales and are more interested in content and word-of-mouth recommendations.
At the Markt @ Javits
For buyers and sellers of menswear, an important Javits Show is Mrket, considered one of the most sophisticated fashion events for “discerning menswear brands,” and “the only show in the US to spotlight…international sections,” including Made in Italy, and Brits in New York.
Project focuses on contemporary menswear and is a very special fashion event for premium denim, and designer collections. The show is the perfect opportunity for retailers to merchandise and accessorize their menswear collections – in one place.
It was a fascinating adventure into the beautiful world of contemporary menswear and made me look forward to seeing more beauty on the streets of New York, at domestic and international airports, and even better looks on the busses and subways in Manhattan.
Curated Options for the Global Guy In-transit
Started in 1972 in the UK by Stephen Marks the objective of the French Connection is: “To create well-designed fashionable clothing that appeals to a broad market.” You might remember the brand for its 1990s “FCUK fashion” ad campaign and collection, likely to be re-introduced via Urban Outfitters. As I browsed through the collection I realized that it would be ultra-easy for a guy (of any age) to design a complete wardrobe by focusing his entire attention on French Connection apparel.
J. Barbour & Sons Ltd. started in 1894 by John Barbouin who was dedicated to British luxury and lifestyle. Today, the fifth generation family-owned business remains in Simonside, South Shields, UK. The company manufactures and markets waxed cotton outerwear, ready-to-wear, footwear and accessories for men, women, children and dogs. The clothing reflects the unique values of the British countryside that introduces wit, grit and glamour to clothing that is not only fashionable it is also functional.
I always notice the shoes first when I am scoping out a guy on the bus or subway. If the shoes are cheap, need a shine or in serious need or repair, there is no need to look further. The Nico Zappiello shoes are awesome, and if a guy has the good sense to put these on his feet, then I want to start a conversation. Inspired by old-world craftsmanship, this company blends style, comfort and elegance.
Many of the shoes are made using the Blake Rapid Construction method, allowing the creation of a double bottomed shoe with “breathability” that results in a lighter, more flexible dress shoe. The 8 to 8 collection uses Bologna Construction (sacchetto) that is inspired by moccasins from North America. The soles are attached to one piece, forming a leather sock around the foot, creating an environment for the foot that is flexible and comfortable.
The John Smedley company started in the UK (Derbyshire) in 1784 and is the oldest manufacturing enterprise in the world. Historically, the company is noted as the originator of “Long Johns,” made on one of the first-ever fully-fashioned knitting machines.
In the 1950s – 60s, the brand was favored by Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and the Beatles and by the 1980s it was adopted by British designers Dame Vivienne Westwood and Sir Paul Smith. In 2012 the company was granted the Royal Warant of Appointment as a “Manufacturer of Fine Knitwear” by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The organization uses Sea Island cotton, extra fine Merino wool, cashmere and silk. The “Mainline Collection” includes polo shirts (unchanged since 1932) through its current unisex “Singular” line that transcends generations.
Naadam makes cashmere sweaters and they are incredibly beautiful and available in so many colors that it is easy to wear a different sweater every day for a month. The cashmere is luscious and luxurious, soft and durable and gets even softer over-time.
According to Naadam, the best Cashmere goats are born and raised in Mongolia. The wool for these sweaters is sourced from the Zalaa Jinst white goat, the only entirely white breed of cashmere goat in Mongolia and found in Mongolia’s Gobi Deseret (400 miles off-road from the nearest city).
The Cashmere goats thrive in extremely cold and harsh climates. To survive, they grow long, fine fibers to protect themselves. The Naadam herders hand-comb the fibers because shearing goats is stressful to the goats. Almost all cashmere sourced from Mongolia is organic, but not all cashmere is environmentally sustainable. The Naadam Gobi Revival Fund supports 1000 nomadic herding families in Mongolia and provides veterinary care for over 250,000 goats.
While cashmere should not be put in the washing machine, it can be handwashed using baby shampoo.
This Italian resort wear brand is named after a small town in Brittany, France, where the colors of its coast reflect the power of the Atlantic Ocean. Ploumanac’h is based in Arenzano, an Italian coastal town and the garments are dyed using an innovative system that saves water and avoids the use of heat. The brand is absolutely amazing and dozens of shirts belong in every man’s wardrobe.
Vestrucci is considered to be one of Florence’s greatest tailoring houses and Sartoria Vestrucci is becoming the tailor of choice for the “jet-setting, glob-trotting playboy” who “always comes off as the most handsome man in the room.”
According to the company website, it is the Vestrucci construction that links “sculptural formalism and degage deconstructed virtuosity” and makes the brand so distinctive. All I know is that when, after walking for hours through hundreds of spaces displaying absolutely gorgeous apparel for men, I had to stop at Vestrucci, get up close and personal with the jackets and ties, and take photo after photo of these incredibly beautiful garments. Now all I need is the guy wearing a Vestrucci…the kind of fella who has no desire to be flashy but just wants you to know that he is smart enough to know how to dress impeccably.
Sock it to Me
The company, based in Portland, Oregon, started in an outdoor market in 2004. Today, the company employees 40+ people, creating over 400 original designs and works with over 4000 wholesale accounts plus the online webstore. After I scope out the shoes, I look at the socks. If the guy has the courage and good color sense to wear a beautiful/unique pair of socks…I know he will be able string a few words together to form a sentence.
I hope that the fabulous display of menswear at the Mrket show is a good indicator of the new directions for men’s fashion; the benefits will accrue to all of us!
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© Dr. Elinor Garely. This copyright article, including photos, may not be reproduced without written permission from the author.