Womenswear vs Menswear: The Key Differences Brands Should Know

Traditionally, men tend to adopt a more utilitarian approach to shopping, weighing up their options and assessing alternatives based on price and quality. It’s expected male shopping habits will evolve and begin to imitate female shopping behaviors as men become increasingly attentive to their appearance.

Currently, men are considered more receptive to the help of salespeople, less concerned about the precise fit of clothing, and more likely to repeat purchase or buy the same item in bulk.

There is also a considerable opportunity in the fashion industry for plus-size menswear. In the UK, plus-size clothing is set to reach £9 billion by 2022 (approx US$12 billion). Plus-size womenswear is well-established in the retail sector and stood at US$178.56 billion in 2019 expanding at a CAGR of 4.3% during the forecast period from 2020 to 2028, however new research from Edited shows plus-size menswear has decreased by 54%. This presents a unique opportunity for retailers who want to corner the market and provide stylish menswear for male shoppers of all sizes – particularly for the self-conscious male shopper, aged 18-to-34 who “would ideally buy everything online”, according to a Business Insider report.

Katie Smith, senior analyst at retail analytics firm, Edited, believes larger men have been left out of the equation when it comes to selling online:

Many retailers are getting in on the womenswear game by finding niches in [plus-size] womenswear…So why are we forgetting larger men?

It’s a question that is not easy to answer, however could be explained by brands’ supposed inability to market body positivity, says Bruce Sturgell, founder of the plus-size menswear blog Chubstr. He told Glossy:

People don’t know how to market body positivity for men … [or] market size diversity for men.

menswear ecommerce
The growth of menswear between 2020 and 2026 is predicted to increase from US$488 billion to US$704 billion. China currently leads the way at US$91 billion, with the US a close second at US$82 billion.

Editor and fashion curator, Mitchell Oakley Smith of Manuscript explained this transformation:

By nature we men are quite shy and don’t get caught up in the same way women do in a culture of retail as entertainment or therapy. We are shoppers of habit who do a lot of research about the investments we want to make, so online is the perfect forum for that. It’s private, you can do your research and it’s incredibly efficient.

Signalling a shift in men’s consumer habits, 59% of men have bought clothes online in the past year, with no signs of slowing down.

Pravin Vazirani, an investor in companies like The Black Tux, Warby Parker, and Poshmark, commented on the growth of online menswear:

The way men shop makes it more conducive to online. Men are a little bit more utilitarian, they focus on convenience and price as some of the main criteria… it makes more sense for men’s fashion to move online.

Despite the growth of male online shoppers, menswear still lags behind womenswear when it comes to technology. While female shoppers enjoy a wide selection of apps, eCommerce sites, and wearable tech, there’s huge opportunity for menswear brands to create a similar landscape for their burgeoning audience.

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