Men—not women—are fashion’s fastest-growing shoppers

The new menswear, on the runway at Louis Vuitton.
The new menswear, on the runway at Louis Vuitton.
Image: Reuters/Charles Platiau
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Women may still be fashion’s biggest spenders. But when you look at how fast sales are growing, men now lead the race—and they’re expected to widen the gap over the next few years.

Both men’s and women’s clothing have seen sales slow down in recent years, according to data from Euromonitor, a market research provider. But since 2016, when the two categories expanded at the same pace, sales growth for menswear has consistently outpaced womenswear. Euromonitor predicts the trend will continue, forecasting that men’s clothing sales will grow 1.9% in 2021, compared to just 1.4% for women’s clothes.

For those who have followed the rise of menswear, the news may sound somewhat familiar. Around 2009, growth of menswear had started to pull ahead of womenswear, though Euromonitor’s numbers show that womenswear did briefly bounce back. (And for some context, the firm estimates that sales of women’s clothing were about $642.8 billion in 2017, versus $419.4 billion for men’s clothing, so women are still the bigger overall market.)

But the forces propelling the growth of men’s clothing have changed. Styles such as the workwear of the early 2000s, along with the tailoring-heavy #menswear that followed, have given way to streetwear—which started as a loose, global confederation of brands with an affinity for hip-hop and skate culture and has now surged into the luxury-fashion establishment.

As Reuters reports, streetwear and the general shift to more casual clothing are now driving sales of men’s clothing, including in the luxury arena. “It’s more than a buzz. It’s a deeper trend,” Sidney Toledano, CEO of luxury group LVMH, told Reuters. “There’s strong demand across the men’s fashion industry, in all its shapes and forms, and which comes in part from a younger clientele. We see it very clearly in the sales.”

At Paris Fashion Week recently, streetwear-affiliated designer Virgil Abloh showed his debut collection of Louis Vuitton menswear, while sneakers were all over the runways, at shows such as Dior and Sacai. WWD spoke with buyers (paywall) from a number of prominent retailers after the shows on their feelings about the season. The general sentiment: They intended to buy more from the men’s collections than they had originally planned.