NEW YORK: Fashion brands and apparel retailers could gain substantial benefits from targeting male consumers, an area where Saks Fifth Avenue, Burberry and Coach have already seen success.

Eric Jennings, the fashion director, men's wear, at Saks Fifth Avenue department store, told the New York Times that men had proved particularly reluctant to increase their expenditure following the recession, but were now adopting new habits.

"If they learned one thing through the recession, it's that looking schlumpy is not going to help you keep your job, get promoted or get a new job. I think they're taking their appearance more seriously," he told the New York Times.

Jennings also suggested the popularity of TV shows like Boardwalk Empire, which place a heavy emphasis on the sartorial élan of its characters, have made a positive impact among this audience.

"Men are feeling more confident to experiment and realising that they do have more options, and it's showing in the numbers - it's showing in sales," he added.

Figures from IBM Global Business Services, the advisory group, showed that apparel sales among men fell at almost twice the pace as those for their female counterparts in 2008.

However, estimates from NPD Group, the market research provider, suggested that sales of men's accessories rose by 14% in the closing six months of last year, reaching $6bn overall.

"That guy had been away for a while during the tougher times," said David Witman, general merchandise manager at Nordstrom's men's division.

In a further demonstration of the change in this situation, Burberry, the luxury label, saw sales of its goods for men expand by 50% in the six months to September 2011.

Coach, another fashion group, similarly reported that its sales to men doubled to $200m over the 12 months to June 2011, and believes the current fiscal year will yield returns of $400m on this measure.

Demand for bracelets targeted at males also climbed by 30% last year for Tateossian, a jewellery design company based in London, with considerable interest coming from the web as well as in stores.

"On a global basis we're known as a cufflink brand, but in the past year our sales have shifted in a way that we're selling, now, more bracelets than we are selling cufflinks," Robert Tateossian, the organisation's chief executive, said.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by Warc staff