It's true. All one must do is glance around the streets of New York, Paris, Tokyo, or Milan to see that men are taking fashion seriously.
This declaration can further be substantiated by research recently compiled by luxury brands like Coach, Mr. Porter, Gilt Man, Ben Minkoff, John Varvatos and Ermenegildo Zegna analyzing the differences between how men and women approach fashion.
Women's Wear Daily reports on Fashion's Next Frontier for Social Media, highlighting the planned path for fashion's future. All signs point to a strong push in the direction of men's fashion.
As this group of budding fashionistas emerges, brands are searching for clues on how to capitalize on men's online propensities. New innovations in online repertoire include Mr Porter's strong editorial content, Coach men's new interactive Facebook page, and Ben Minkoff's gender-specific online shopping tactics.
The Wall Street Journal reported that men's appetite for fashion is growing, and the proof is in the numbers.
The total sales for U.S. men's apparel from January to September of 2011 rose 6.5 percent to $53.7 billion compared to women's 1.2 percent increase. This growth is supported by the sale of men's tailored suits and sports coats, ties and neckwear and shirts.
It's across all price points and all ages, said Richard Jaffe, a Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. analyst. It's not just the 19-year-old buying an inexpensive suit. It's all those things and the 50-year-old finding casual to work isn't just a polo shirt any more. We are seeing more retailers respond to that.
Some believe men are focusing more on their choice of apparel because they wish to stand out as contenders in a competitive marketplace. But others see interest sprouting even in youngsters.
There's a whole new intrigue with young men in particular interested in sartorial dressing, said Eric Jennings, fashion director at Saks to The Journal. I even see my nephew in elementary school asking me, 'How do I fold this pocket square?'
Oliver Walsh is the founder and chief executive officer of Wednesday London, a digital agency that has done business with a slew of men's fashion brands -- Mr Porter, J. Crew, Alexander McQueen, Giorgio Armani and Moncler. Walsh tells WWD that men are fiercely loyal to brands successful digital media hones in on that.
You look at superstylish guys, and they often just wear the same thing every day. Most guys tend to have their uniform, because they're very brand loyal and they know what fits them. They trust an online shop, and they've taken that risk and ordered that item, so they get site loyal, too, Walsh said, The initial barrier to men's shopping is greater, but once you've converted them, they have a greater sense of loyalty.
When Wednesday London helped to launch Mr Porter, this concept was built directly into the sites infrastructure. The Mr Porter brand was promoted on a platform coaxing customers to become founding member of Mr Porter. The 70,000 individuals who participated before Mr Porter even went public had access to benefits before and after the launch. Mr Porter currently boasts over 100,000 Facebook fans and over 36,000 Twitter followers.
Mr Porter recently added an Instagram feature, for users to share stylish ensembles, and a YouTube channel, for how-to videos.
Mario Muttenthaler, head of sales and marketing at Mr Porter, told WWD the most popular features are new arrivals (products, designers, trends) and the weekly style clinic, where personal shoppers converse with consumers on Twitter and Facebook.
With women, they know a little more what they're looking for, and they want to make sure it's the right fit, Muttenthaler said. Men really like to be inspired or told what to wear and how to wear it. A lot of guys like to learn about other ways to wear what they have.
WWD cites Coach as another prime example to underline this shifting frontier. Coach is one of the leading fashion labels in the social media world for women. It has over 2.4 million Facebook fans, 300,000 Twitter followers, and a slew of successful blogging campaigns.
However, for the past few months, Coach has been focusing on its male consumers.
Our female customers want to be digitally engaged with more frequency and are more interested in new products, value, celebrity and blogger fashion trends. Men, on the other hand, prefer their engagement with us to be more focused on increasing their knowledge of the product, David Duplantis, senior vice president of global Web and digital media, said to WWD.
Social media messages constructed specifically for men concentrate on heritage and lifestyle. And Coach is using that method in its new Coach Men's Facebook page, which currently has 13,649 followers. The page presents interesting features like Did You Know?, Blog Roundup, Product of the Week and Make Your Own Animation.
In some ways, the male consumer is an entirely new animal altogether. Instead of dressing like carbon copies of their parents or grandparents, men today are experimenting with a smorgasbord of styles and creating something exquisitely unique.
There's a new customer saying 'I've never worn a sweater,' Tim Bess, men's fashion trend analyst for trend consulting firm Doneger Group, told the Journal.
They don't want to look like their parents, who are so dressed down. They are starting their own look.