“Men are just waking up to the beauty of being dressed well,” Hugo Boss CEO Claus-Dietrich Lahrs said in an interview with Reuters yesterday, while attending the annual Fairchild Fashion Media Men’s Wear Summit in New York City. Lahrs, among many other executives at high-end menswear labels — and even those at brands like Coach, known predominately for their women’s accessories — have expressed big plans to expand in the coming months. Some postulate that the uptick has to do with the improved global job market: more men are buying good suits to get the good job. Others look east to China, where the country’s 1M+ millionaires and 400+ billionaires are not just scooping up high-priced clothing at breakneck pace but driving retailers like Hong Kong-based Trinity Ltd. (Cerruti 1881, Gieves & Hawkes) to acquire more western fashion houses. Then there are those who point to recent cultural cues from shows like “Mad Men” and the polished style of male celebrities like George Clooney and Bradley Cooper–the aspirational factor, so to speak.
Whatever the reason, luxury menswear is growing at twice the rate of luxury womenswear (14 percent versus 7 percent); adding more men’s stores and manufacturing more men’s merchandise only makes good business sense. In the U.S. and in Asia, at least. Europe, whose cities have long been the epicenter of men’s fashion, has been hit hard by the global recession, and now, with Greece’s ongoing financial crises, confidence in that region has reached a new low. While much of international retail saw robust growth in recent years, retail sales across the eurozone have fallen by 2.5 percent since 2010. Luxury fared better than its lower and middle-priced counterparts — Harrods in London, for example, has set sales records the past two years — but many investors feel Europe is still too risky to launch new ventures right now.
But this forecast could very well change. The fifth season of “Mad Men” has just premiered across the pond, so only time will tell just how influential Don Draper really is.
(Image via AMC)