Bad news guys… that age-old stereotype that women are the clothes-obsessed shopaholics we perhaps once thought might not entirely be true. Depending on what data you believe, us men may now be spending more on fashion than females.

 

It looks like the metrosexual man might actually be going mainstream, with recent data suggesting that more men than ever are spending on fashion and beauty products; and quite possibly even outspending women. Marketers, get ready for a new wanky term that’ll replace the metrosexual. The menaissance!

Coined over 20 years ago, the term “metrosexual” was once used to define a heterosexual urban man who enjoys shopping, fashion and beauty products. Not to be confused with the spornosexual (those men who want to be desired for their bodies and not their wardrobe) or lumbersexual (a man who has adopted style traits typical of a traditional lumberjack).

 

Created by Euromonitor, the term menaissance represents the first time (for as long as we can remember) that men’s spending on fashion has actually eclipsed female spending globally. Yes you read that right… according to Euromonitor us men are now spending more on fashion then women. And the trend is predicted to continue growing at an even faster rate into the future.

Surely this can’t be true right? Well in a report early last year Ogilvy claimed the same thing, that American men are now spending about 13% more a month on fashion and accessories than women. BudgetSenseApp.com also suggested that contrary to popular belief, American men are spending both more time and money shopping than their female counterparts. Now for any women reading this, before you forward this information onto any man the next time he gives you a hard time about your shopping habits – a word of caution. Before you get too excited with these stats, one important thing to note with both of these research reports is that they were only done of a very small sample of just over 1000 people each.

Looking at the data closer to home in Australia we see kind of a different story, albeit it’s still an interesting one. Men at least in Australia can still relax, as a Roy Morgan research report last month shows that female spending still outweighs male. However over the last few years the gap has been closing.

So who do we believe? Are men actually spending more on fashion then women? The research thus far seems to be conflicting, but regardless of what source of data you believe we’re sure you’d agree that the trend is pretty clear. That is, when it comes to fashion men’s overall spending is definitely on the rise and we’re finally giving women are run for their money.

 

So why has male fashion spend increased so significantly over the past few years? Let’s confirm and debunk a few theories:

 

Theory: Men are now spending more on fashion because they’re earning more than women.

The first and perhaps most simple explanation you might be thinking is that men earn more woman, so wouldn’t it make sense to assume that this is why they’re spending more on fashion? The answer is probably not.

Although we’re not disputing a gender pay gap exists (because unfortunately it does), it probably isn’t the contributor to why men are now spending so much on fashion. We’d believe this if the trend had existed over a extended number of years, but the reality is the pay gap has always existed and this significant increase in male fashion spend has only occured in the past few years. Additionally most statistics are suggesting that whilst the pay gap still exists, over the past few years it has finally shown signs of improvement (yet spending on male fashion has increased for this same period).

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Although it has some way to go, recent gender wage statistics from the UK suggest that the gap is finally improving – dropping from about 27% in 1993 to 19% in 2005 (Source: Business insider).

Conclusion: False – a declining gender pay gap doesn’t really explain why over the past few years men’s fashion spend has significantly increased.

 

Theory: Men have more disposable income to spend on fashion.

Men are getting married later, having families later and living at home longer (blame exuberant house prices). One theory could be is that because men now have more disposable income, they are spending this on fashion. This could be somewhat true however arguably the exact same trend is happening across both genders, not just males. So we would therefore expect both male and female spend to increase proportionally, which it hasn’t.

Conclusion: False – both gender’s disposable income has increased, not just men’s. It still doesn’t explain why male fashion spending is outpacing females.

 

Theory: Millennial males are driving the increased spend in fashion.

Perhaps this is true, let’s first look at the age groups of consumers and work out where the growth is. This is where things start to get interesting…

The youngest male consumers (those consumers under 24 years old) are actually the only age group who are spending less on fashion than 4 years ago. Even more interestingly, is that whereas they were once the highest spending group of consumers, they are now the second lowest group. It’s actually those male consumers 35-49 who are now spending the most. Although those 65 and older are still the lowest spending group of consumers, they have witnessed the largest growth over the past 4 years (although arguably it’s coming off the lowest base).

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Total male spend on fashion, for average 4 week period. (Source: Roy Morgan).

Conclusion: False – The data suggests that the youngest cohort of males are actually spending less on fashion, which is the opposite to what we saw in the market 4 years ago. Rather it’s those older customers 25+ who are driving the trend in increased spending.

 

Theory: We’re becoming a more white collar society.

As a society, men are now shunning traditional trades in favour of office jobs. We’re becoming more university educated and moving into more white collar professions. This is likely having a huge impact on men’s fashion and their buying trends. Not surprising the biggest growth category is in men suits.

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Sales growth in male fashion categories (inflation-adjusted) since 1998 (Source: Euromonitor). *Note this graph does not include accessories such as bags.

 

Conclusion: True – the move to white collar professions and “office” jobs has likely been a contributor to the recent growth in male fashion spend.

 

Theory: Men want to look good (or at least better than what they did a few years ago).

The mainstream media have been putting pressure on how females look for years; and now this might be applying to us men as well. The fact is whether it’s grooming or fashion, your average mainstream man is putting more effort into how they look. And they apparently care about what label they’re wearing too.

 

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When it comes to fashion, Australian men are now more brand sensitive than women.

 

Roy Morgan research supports this, a brand’s name actually matters more to guys. 24% of men in Australia agree that they will buy a product because of the label (compared to only 21% Aussie women). You could also put this down in part, due to the fact that men are generally single longer. Research shows that those of us males who aren’t in a relationship are much more likely to spend more on fashion than our coupled-up counterparts.

Conclusion: True – compared to the past, there’s now more pressure than ever for men to look good. As a result, men are spending more on fashion.

 

Theory: Men’s fashion is actually more expensive.

One theory is that both sexes have actually increased their personal spend on fashion, however female fashion is simply better value. Fast fashion has changed the fashion industry, making fashion more accessible and affordable. It enables cheap shopping at high volumes, however current fast fashion brands generally cater to women. So essentially whilst both sexes want to spend more on fashion, females are getting greater bang for their buck whilst us poor males are forced to pay for fashion that is generally more expensive. Research shows that although men are purchasing less items of male fashion, the average spend for each of these items is $50.56, which is 18% higher than the average spend per female fashion item of $42.92.

Conclusion: True – the higher price of male fashion and falling price of female fashion is likely to be a key driver why men are spending more.

 

Theory: Online is driving the trend.

Men “traditionally” don’t like shopping. When it comes to shopping, compared to the female consumer research shows that the male shopper is quite task orientied – prefering to “get in and get out”. And they’re quite shy when it comes to purchasing fashion.

Online has arguably enabled men a greater platform to purchase clothes than the traditional in-store experience. Men’s online spend on fashion has significantly grown in the past and shows no trend of slowing down, especially spending on overseas websites.

Conclusion: True – Much of the growth in spend on male fashion could be attributable to online, especially internationally.

 

So what does all this actually mean?

Well firstly you can see from the above that there are a number of factors we think have influenced the growth in men’s fashion. Although much of the research paints a somewhat contradictory picture, it is clear that the male fashion industry is growing and shows no indication of slowing down.

For a very long time the Australian retail environment has catering predominantly to women, the male consumer hasn’t been taken seriously by retailers. Expect this to change in the not-too-distant future. Expect department stores to increase their men’s offering and an increase in stand alone stores catering primarily to the male consumer. Many men are also shopping overseas via online, represently a huge missed opportunity for Australian retailers.