The global growth of menswear and what’s next for men’s fashion

Menswear will outperform the women’s clothing sector across the world by 2020, according to research by Euromonitor International. With a contribution of approximately £380 billion to the worldwide clothing and shoes market by the end of the next two years, menswear is growing quicker than womenswear — predicted to develop 2.3% globally by 2020 compared to the 2.2% growth rate for female clothing. When we reach the year 2020, menswear is expected to hit a value of £16.3 billion in the UK, while the womenswear market is predicted to drop nationwide by 0.2% within the next 24 months.

But what’s brought on this trend for menswear and what could this mean for male fashion of the future?

Why is the menswear sector expected to grow?

There are several reasons behind the progression in the menswear market. Firstly, could it be that men are simply becoming more style-orientated? In reference to a particularly popular piece of male fashion — denim — clothing and footwear analyst at Euromonitor International, Bernadette Kissane, commented: “When it comes to jeans, men in the UK traditionally bought into long-lasting quality rather than value fast fashion, but the strong growth of economy jeans sees men also being influenced by fast changing trends and the desire for a variety of style-led value jeans.”

Statistics appear to back up this idea. Apparently, almost 60% of men agreed that they felt ‘more attractive’ when they were well-groomed, while approximately 21% said that they think a good role model should ‘look after his appearance’, according to a menswear UK 2017 report by Mintel, a market intelligence agency.

Similarly, the growth in the menswear market has been encouraged by the industry’s quick response to changing trends. Senior fashion analyst at Mintel, Tamara Sender, said: “More retailers and brands have been tapping into the growing menswear market by expanding their men’s clothing offer, as well as launching stores and separate websites dedicated to men’s fashion. As more retailers are entering the menswear market, men are faced with greater choice of products, styles and sizing.”

The rise in online shopping could also have contributed to more men purchasing clothes, as around a quarter of men said that they would like to get their clothing directly from a social media site. Showing a similar outcome, a study by Business Insider Intelligence found that 40% of male participants said they would “buy everything online”. This shows an inclination towards quick-buy/minimal-browsing options that is now being indulged thanks to the advances in ecommerce, technology and consumer-brand interfaces.

Or is this simply a generational thing? According to a UK Menswear 2017 whitepaper by Pragma, ‘millennial’ males — generally agreed to be those born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s — spend more on clothing each year than other men.

Perhaps a combination of age, technology and fashion-consciousness is the cause of the rapid growth in the menswear market. But what does this mean for the clothing of tomorrow and beyond?

Fashion of the future: what you can expect

Any decent entrepreneur will jump on a rising trend — so anticipate more competition and creativity in the menswear market by people and brands wishing to capitalise on the expanding sector.

More customized fits

Get ready for an even great range of specialized fittings. Research clearly shows that men care about how they look in 2018, so it’s natural that they’ll receive more opportunity to get that ‘perfect fit’.   Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at research firm, NPD, predicts growth in bespoke fits and said about customised men’s suits: “It used to be an underground market — now it’s street level.” From tapering the torso to getting the perfect half-inch of shirt cuff under the suit jacket, be prepared for more choice to complement the male physique.

New subscription services

Clearly, there’s an opportunity for clothing brands with the influence of digital platforms, and soon, you should expect to see a greater rise of ‘subscription services’. As former CEO of Ben Sherman, Simon Smith, put it: “women go shopping, a man needs a shirt.” Taking into account the findings from the Business Insider Intelligence report, it’s fair to say that, typically, men don’t want to browse — which is where subscription services come in.

Essentially, this digital process for menswear items will get rid of the need for a man to go online and re-buy purchases — whether these are grooming products or casual shirts. Anything that a man habitually buys can be sent automatically to him periodically — ideal for men who want to cut out the shopping part of buying.

Gender-neutral clothing

Across the world, we’re already seeing a surge in genderless fashion — from River Island’s revolutionary unisex kids’ range, to the gender-unspecified outfits walked down the Gucci and Givenchy runways during recent fashion weeks.

Slowly rising since the 1980s, many in the industry predict the gender-fluid trend will become mainstream very soon. Olivia Nordstrom, vice president of creative projects at Nordstrom, said: “I think it’s a more generally accepted thing for a woman to wear a man’s shirt or trousers. Why can’t it be the other way around?”

Basically, expect to see more liberated clothing in the men’s fashion of the future — the focus will be on how clothing fits, feels and looks, not on whether it has feminine embellishments or a masculine colour.

Tech fabrics

Fashion is getting tech-savvy, so expect a knock-on effect when it comes to men’s wardrobes. Digital textile printing — a high-performing process that applies intricate colours and patterns to clothes — is expected to reach $3,943 million by 2022 across the world. Efficient and cost-effective, many fashion brands are capitalizing on this technology, which means you can anticipate a growth in patterned garments, logo tees and graphic jackets. For example; at the latest New York Fashion Week, a collaboration between luxe sportswear brands, Trinovation and Engineered for Motion, showcased welded seams, four-way stretch fabrics and laser-cut neoprene on the runway.

Athleisure boom

Expect even greater things from the athleisure trend. According to the Mintel report mentioned earlier, males are showing a growing interest in casual dress, and 58% say that sports-ready clothes are practical for everyday. Is there a growing mentality among men that formal attire should be subbed for more relaxed, sports-centric garments that focus on both comfort and fashion? From hi-top trainers and jogger jeans, to tailored ‘muscle-fit’ hoodies and graphic sweatshirts; the move towards ‘dressing-up’ athletic clothing is already on its way.

Could athleisure replace casual dress? Bringing the comfort and durability of sportswear to social occasions is only going to increase in acceptance, as more men get on board with the trend and the clothing styles available for it grow and diversify. Anticipate a more focused, trend-led and stronger athleisure category that fuses elements of high fashion with basic sportswear staples.

Men’s clothing is not only growing, but transforming. What more innovative trends can we expect in the future that will revolutionise how men dress?

Source: River Island (

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