Luxury brands target men

02 April 2012

NEW YORK: Luxury brand owners such as Hugo Boss, Saks Fifth Avenue and Coach are all aiming to boost their sales among male shoppers.

Hugo Boss, which already yields most of its revenues from men, has established the goal of boosting sales by 50% over the period to 2015, when returns should hit €3bn.

Among the key initiatives it plans to implement is enhancing its flagship US store, based in Manhattan, New York. "Men are just waking up to the beauty of being dressed well," Claus-Dietrich Lahrs, the company's chief executive, told Reuters.

Forecasts from Bain & Company, the consultancy, have suggested that the luxury menswear segment should grow by 14% in 2012, almost twice the expansion anticipated for high-end womenswear.

Alfred Dunhill, a male-focused fashion chain owned by Richemont, has three stores in the US at present, and is seeking to open a further five within the next two years.

"We look at America as a bit of an unpicked fruit," Christopher Colfer, CEO of Alfred Dunhill, said. "There's a resurgence of man and our willingness to make ourselves look nice."

Matthew Singer, men's fashion director at Neiman Marcus Group, added that the rise of websites and blogs dedicated to this type of apparel, changing habits and TV programmes like Mad Men also plays a role. "Those shows are having an influence on the way guys are dressing," he said.

Coach, the fashion brand, has predicted its global sales to the same audience will expand from the $200m registered in 2011 to $400m this year and over $1bn in the next five years.

"Men are becoming more comfortable," said Greg Unis, Coach's VP, men's merchandising. "We have men coming into the store that got a wallet for a graduation gift ten years ago and [are leaving] with a briefcase. They're trading up into the brand."

Around four years ago, Saks Fifth Avenue, the department store chain, created its own-label range for male buyers, and has seen considerable success in terms of driving sales.

"Saks Fifth Avenue Men's Collection will probably be this year our largest men's brand at a very attractive gross margin," Steve Sadove, its CEO, said. "Exclusive differentiated product is what we're about."

Such trends are not limited to the US. Trinity, a luxury goods group in China, witnessed organic growth of 19.5% in 2011. It currently has 370 branches, but hopes to reach 500 in the near future.

"Men do not shop that often, do not buy a lot but they are consistent. Men are very loyal to brands," Sunny Wong, group managing director of Trinity, said.

Data sourced from Reuters/CNBC; additional content by Warc staff