James Lawson, director of Ledbury Research, highlights the promise of luxury for men, but feels that Chinese trends may mask a global shift
Accounting for 40% of global sales, men’s spending on luxury also grew almost twice as fast as women’s in 2011, 14% compared with 8% respectively (Bain). This segment therefore remains heavily in focus by those in the luxury sector, with the likes of Burberry and Coach flagging it as an area of expansion and aiming to join the ranks of menswear veterans Giorgio Armani, Hugo Boss and Dunhill.
At Burberry, where menswear and men’s accessories currently represent 27% of sales, the brand is looking to “double sales over time”. Coach has developed a dedicated men’s space at its flagship on Madison Avenue, subsequently leading to a doubling of its men’s sales to 20%.
Luxury giants have also jumped onto the bandwagon: LVMH’s Berluti expanded its niche from luxury footwear to debut its first men’s ready-to-wear collection at Paris Fashion Week in January, while PPR bought Italian suitmaker Brioni in November last year and signalled its faith in the segment’s prospects by announcing an expanded offering as well as new flagship plans for Europe, America, China and the Middle East.
“ Accounting for 40% of global sales, men’s spending on luxury also grew almost twice as fast as women’s in 2011 ”
Alexander McQueen is another brand investing in menswear. The PPR owned house will open a 185sqm dedicated space on London’s Savile Row in September, showcasing both the ready-to-wear collection and Alexander McQueen by Huntsman, a bespoke service announced in January. Prices for the bespoke service will range from £4,500 – £5,000 and the pieces will take about 12 weeks to make.
Creative director, Sarah Burton, said bespoke was a natural progression for the brands menswear offering. “We already offer couture for women, and wanted to add it for men. And our clients were asking for it. With this service we want to give them beautiful, handcrafted clothes, and emphasize artisanal work,” she told WWD.
Net-a-Porter’s menswear counterpart, Mr Porter, launched in February 2011.
Many attribute this growth to China, where men account for over two-thirds (70%) of all luxury sales. This is in part due to the popular gift-giving culture amongst businessmen and government officials. The question, however, is whether this has been overhyped, and if Chinese male appetites for luxury are sustainable in the long term.
Because while China may currently still be dominated by male spending, this appears to be changing: we are seeing Chinese women play an increasing role in wealth creation (see High Net Worth December 2011). The rise of self-purchasing women may soon come to overshadow male demand in China, and cause a shift in the balance of luxury demand between the genders (see Ledbury’s Modern Matriarch Chinese Wealth Segment).
“ Many attribute this growth to China, where men account for over two-thirds (70%) of all luxury sales ”
Despite this, brands are still targeting men, the new big luxury spenders. This is partly due to the globally shifting attitudes. Traditionally male spend has been impacted faster and harder by the downturn, but men are now becoming more discerning.
Net -a-Porter’s Mr. Porter (since February 2011), Gilt Groupe’s GiltMAN (October 2009) and the latter’s full-price men’s site Park & Bond (August 2011) have not only tapped into the relatively underpenetrated online space in menswear, they have also recognized the change in the shopping habits of today’s men and have invested heavily in their editorial content.
Park & Bond, a partnership with GQ magazine, offers advice and how-tos, buying guides, and even free personal shopper assistance on their website to “find your own personal style”. As a further sign of male demand, Gilt has invested in a full-price men’s site before that for women, indicating the large potential in online male luxury spend.
Ledbury Research is a research company specialising in the understanding and engaging of High Net Worth Individuals.
Bespoke consumer work spans all forms of quantitative and qualitative research, typically conducted on a multi-country basis, in wealth hubs around the world.
The analyst team delivers market information, trends and analysis through regular reports on the luxury and wealth markets.
© Luxury Society, Men: The New Luxury Big Spenders?, 10 April 2012, by James Lawson.
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