Menswear is a booming business. In some cases it’s growing faster than women’s. Expanding into menswear simply allows brands to reap the benefits of both phenomena. There has been exponential growth in the men’s designer ready-to-wear market that presents an opportunity for womenswear brands to move into the category and create organic brand expansion.
There has been more permissiveness in fashion, more fluidity to shopping contributing to this crossover, but the market opportunity seems to be the overwhelming driving factor. Most brands have expanded with a focus on individual offerings for men’s and women’s rather than with unisex assortments. Category expansions also allow labels to position themselves as lifestyle brands and boost business growth even when wholesale is stagnant.
Menswear has ventured into a space that is less constrained by traditional masculinity and its sartorial prescriptions. The line between menswear and womenswear is fading. Customers are increasingly shopping cross-categories and there’s been a rise in genderless fashion. As shopping habits continue to evolve to reflect customer preferences and expanding identities, the industry will respond in kind.There are specific nuances in pattern grading and cutting in categories like tailoring that are in place to properly fit the traditional female and male forms, and splitting product into men’s and womenswear allows brands to overcome this hurdle without having to revert to oversized everything or see their customers settle with a standardized fit. The same pair of jeans can be offered as both menswear and womenswear with different fits accommodating varying frames, then the customer can decide which fits them the best.At some retail stores, products are merchandized based on the overall aesthetic—there are no women’s or men’s departments, or gendered changing rooms.
However, the average consumer, at this moment, still has a mental model that they use when buying clothing.When browsing through an expansive assortment of over 1,000 brands, there’s a simplicity and ease in organizing clothing by men’s and womenswear departments because it aligns with how people typically think of clothes and navigate online and brick and mortar stores. Retailers have their own logistical barriers to overcome too. Most are split into men’s and women’s buying teams, each with a budget and responsible for sales in their own areas. At the same time there’s an increasing collective growing consciousness about gender identity that will continue to evolve this thinking as well. As oxymoronic as menswear and womenswear labels may feel at the moment, they also seem like the most inclusive answer.
Consumers, regardless of gender identity, deserve to find a product that fits them and is made for their bodies, and even though sometimes labels can be triggering in terms of gender dysphoria, part of progress is adopting the system to then be able to challenge it. Maybe at the moment what progress looks like is category expansions and men’s and women’s sizing, but the next frontier is coming soon, one, hopefully, that is less reliant on labels—as much as these labels reaffirm the binary, the products that come with them (men’sdresses and skirts and platform shoes) often help challenge it.
By Fashionating World