abound for the inexorable rise of men’s fashion. Among them: men are marrying later, with more money and time to practise peacockery before creating progeny; the advent of online purchasing means the drudgery of schlepping from store to store has been eliminated; and metrosexual style icons such as David Beckham, Daniel Craig, Kanye West and fictional character Don Draper have had a lasting influence. Increasingly, designers have become the icons, with the likes of Tom Ford and Thom Browne becoming role models to a group of hyper fashionable men.
Whatever the reasons for the upstyling of men, or what management consulting firm Bain & Company calls the “men-isation” of the luxury retail landscape, there has been an astonishing boom in stores catering specifically to their needs.
Nowhere has that growth been more jet-propelled than in Mainland China, where the very association of the words “men” and “fashion” can still look a little oxymoronic. It is, after all, a nation that is less than a generation away from new-moneyed individuals wearing name-brand labels on their suit sleeves, and where the leaders still wear identical garb—either bland Westernstyle suits or, when emphasising their grassroots credentials, Mao suits.
Radical change is in the air—or rather, online. Fashion retailers selling on the internet say that men in China, and in Asia in general, are not the least bit afraid to splurge big time on clothing—for themselves and their womenfolk. “Globally, women spend more than men. In China, however, women and men have similar spending [habits],” says Maia Guarnaccia, group global brand marketing and communications director for Yoox Group, a company that pioneered online fashion sales. “Globally, for the Yoox Group, almost a third of our customers are men. But in China, we have noticed an increase in male customers in the last years—it has reached more than 50 per cent.
“Men care more about their appearances then they used to. The key factors of growth are higher income, cultural factors, and increasing demand for luxury and high-quality products. In general, men demonstrate a clear preference for purchasing accessories online, with some interesting differences between Asian and Western countries. For example, Chinese and Japanese male customers prefer ties, while Americans prefer bow ties. Chinese men, on the other hand, have a special love for the scarf. Celebrity styles are very influential in the Asian market.”
One of the region’s most celebrity-stocked cities, Hong Kong, is, of course, an incredibly fashion-conscious place—and the arrival of specialised outlets that exclusively sell menswear (or offer expanded space for it) reflects the trend. The city’s first On Pedder men’s store opened in late 2014 in Landmark, catering to those looking for a carefully curated selection of items, and reflecting the current trend for mixing and matching.
“Asian men are more adventurous in brands and styles—they are willing to experiment,”