If 2015 sneaks into fashion encyclopedias, one of the highlight topics would be the rising focus that the industry put on menswear: from tradeshows curating new sections to cover this field –e.g. Pure London welcoming men labels from February 2016- to the recently created gender-specific fashion weeks like NYFW: Men’s. Besides, some established brands that traditionally only supply to ladies are going to introduce male collections in the near future.

The most recent announcement has been made by Stradivarius, which belongs to global textile empire Inditex. Planned to launch in 2017, Stradivarius’ masculine line aims to cater young urban men between 20 and 30 –no imagery is available yet-. A bit sooner, Swedish minimal label 5Preview is going to retail its first complete men’s collection with 25 pieces exclusively in the Italian market next spring. If the response is positive, the range might be expanded and introduced to other countries like Japan, Germany and Northern Europe, the areas where the brand is most appreciated. Also Henry Holland, designer behind the hyped brand House of Holland, presented his first dedicated men’s line during London Collections Men last June, which is already available in retail.
5Preview men's collection SS16
5Preview men's collection SS16

But, how can you extend a woman’s label to a male’s one successfully? First and foremost, designers should not dismiss the visual iconic elements for which the brand is known for. Following the example of House of Holland, the male’s range doesn’t miss any of the elements that characterize his creations for ladies: bold and eclectic prints and playful pattern mixes achieved through a wise layering. It’s hard to judge the success of the adventure yet. However, once a formula has already proven to be successful, it’s easy to just follow the footsteps. In the case of 5Preview, founder Emeli Mårtensson explains: “We started as a unisex brand: bold messages, printed items and texturized garments are part of our DNA. So, we felt our clothes were easy to translate to menswear and maybe guys might be tired of plain shirts already!”

But why is there suddenly such a hype of menswear? As all vital topics in life, there’s a mix of reasons to explain this phenomenon. First of all, we have to recall here our report about the “Menaissance” phenomenon. The term was coined to sum up in one word –of course, a French-sounding one- the faster growth rhythmus that men’s fashion has undergone in the last years compared to womenswear. For example, according to research firm Mintel the men’s fashion market will grow by 27% between 2013 and 2018 to reach £16.4 billion in the UK (Value in 2013: £12.9 billion). In addition, the market is broadening its offerings in order to better satisfy the ascending fashion curiosity and trend towards experimentation. Thus, well-performing brands are willing to cake a piece of this.

To shed more light on why brands do bet on menswear, Agostino Poletto, deputy general manager at Pitti Immagine –organizer of the successful Pitti Uomo fair- shared with us some insights that might explain this industry shift:

Agostino Poletto, deputy general manager at Pitti Immagine
Agostino Poletto, deputy general manager at Pitti Immagine
Menswear is now a hot topic in the fashion industry. How do you explain the hype around it?
First of all the development of big Asian markets such as China and Korea, which gave a very strong impulse to men’s fashion because traditionally in these countries it is the man who is the first to satisfy his needs in terms of status and elegance. Then, there is the accessory factor: the boom of fashion accessories has favored the men’s sector diffusely more than the women’s one which is more limited to the “it item” phenomenon (mostly tied to that specific bag model or famous brand). And, finally, there has been a general men’s shifting of interest toward the product rather than the brand –a behavior that is now also spreading in the women’s market- which gave impulse to a significant growth in terms of men’s fashion.
Beyond all this there has also been the recent “discovery” done by contemporary men that is getting conscious that feeling smart is important first of all for themselves even before than for others and this is not diminishing their masculinity.

In your opinion, what can be still improved within the menswear market?
I think brands and companies could put a greater attention to the distribution of their product. Many companies often don’t care much about where their products are sold. The aim to reach high revenues often blurs the quality image of the brand. Channels like outlets should be managed differently and controlled more. And also online sales - that certainly represent a great opportunity for enlarging one’s action and for rooting in international markets - have to be managed by expert insiders.