A predicted rise this year in the growth of the men’s fashion and luxury grooming products has ground to a halt because of the coronavirus.

Despite a huge increase in the popularity of fashion retail for men, consumer demand in clothing and grooming accessories has taken a significant hit since the start of the global pandemic.

Marketing company Euromonitor International had predicted that 2020 would be the year that men’s fashion would outperform women’s clothing. According to its research, men’s consumer rates were predicted to develop by 2.3 per cent globally compared to the 2.2 per cent growth rate for female clothing.    

But in reality, the menswear market, which accounts for around 26 per cent of the total clothing market across the world, is experiencing a slower rate of growth – rising by only 1.2 per cent to £15.4 billion in 2019 compared to last year due to the pandemic.  

The challenging retail climate has promoted many high street brands to increase promotional activity in a bid to combat the lack of growth within the men’s fashion and sector.  

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High Street retail giant, New Look is set to close their menswear stores and is expecting to see a big fall in sales this year.

On March 27, the National Chamber of Italian Fashion announced that Spring 2021 Milan Men’s fashion week was going to be shown alongside the Women’s collection in September. 

The plan, according to an announcement made by the Chamber earlier this year, was to launch an innovative marketing campaign aimed at the growing demand for menswear.

“We are working on new digital formats and new ways of encounter, in order to create a new storytelling on the days originally scheduled for the Milan Men’s Fashion Week,” said a spokesman.

“We are aware that great efforts will be made in order to have the new collections ready by June to start an innovative selling campaign.”

Vogue Editor Anna Wintour has already famously urged the fashion industry to “rethink our values” in light of the pandemic. 

She said that the affluent expenditure of two-year fashion weeks in New York, London, Paris and Milan alongside separate showcases for menswear needs to change. 

In June, London fashion week became gender-neutral for 12 months and available on a digital-only platform due to the UK’s current lockdown restrictions. 

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Earlier this year, the British Fashion Council suggested fashion had been moving towards gender neutrality for a while so male and female fashion may have combined without a global pandemic.  

High-end fashion house Tom Ford has been promoting themselves as non-binary to resonate with the younger generations.  

Men and Make-up

John Lewis became the first department store to launch a male cosmetic brand in January called warpaint. 

Statistics from YouGov show that there is a demand for this as one in 20 men have worn make-up. One in 50 men admitted to wearing it daily and one in a 100 wear it every single day.

One in a 100 have relied on make-up to look more professional for a job that did not specifically require make-up and one in 50 have used it whilst getting ready for a date. 

This means five per cent of British men now wear a certain level of make-up.

Freelance journalist Nathan Rowe, 25, said: “it is quite obvious that younger generations have moved on from archaic gender norms. 

“It’s a process though and there will always be some form of gender norm in my opinion.”

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The research shows that the products being consumed go beyond Sainsbury’s own moisturiser and shaving cream as millennial men are exploring with real cosmetics. 

Web designer Matthew Watson, 24 said: “I have a skincare routine, but it’s not extensive.

“But in terms of expressing myself through fashion – sometimes I go to Sainsbury’s in pj’s, I don’t really use fashion to express myself”.  

However, this may indicate a lack of choice for men in mainstream retailers and that male fashion and cosmetics is still considered to be a niche market. The industry could benefit from temporarily merging male and female fashion for the next 12 months.   

Secondary School teacher Rahul Chawla, 26, said: “You can express yourself with who you are with what you wear.

“But the most important thing when it comes to fashion is to make sure it suits you.”

This shows that whilst men are still making the conscious decision to consume fashion with their allocated gender norms in mind, they do like to take pride in their appearance.  

Fashion has provided men with a platform that allows them to develop a fashion sense that is contemporary and fashionable rather than dressing within their comfort zones. 

By Shivani Dewan

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