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Menswear Finally Gets Attention and Is Off-Price Still The Darling?

Menswear Finally Gets Attention and Is Off-Price Still The Darling?
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YEAR OF THE INFLUENCER ROSTER

Formerly uncharted territory for retailers exploring new brand strategies, influencer marketing has been a road of ROI hits and misses. Now, brands are getting savvier in their approach, cracking down on the misuse of influencer dollars.

Fostering close relationships to create an influencer roster is the new marleting holy grail. Retailers have begun to clear the murky social media waters and map out clear expectations on measuring investment return and tracking campaigns. With the influencer industry estimated to grow to $2B by 2019, a list of personalities to keep in rotation will establish brand consistency and transparency among consumers.

Who will be on your roster this year?

A MOMENT FOR MENSWEAR

Menswear is having a fashion moment. In the past two years, the category has seen a 75 percent surge in new arrivals from luxury and contemporary sneakers alone. Visually enhanced assortments are attracting men to luxury department stores and there's high hopes that menswear sales will continue their upward trajectory. The market opportunity has caused murmurs among retail powerhouses of possible stand-alone shops and flagship openings specifically for men's fashion. In fact it's not just talk, as Nordstrom is opening its first standalone men's store in NYC this spring.

Moreover, women are still oftentimes the driver of menswear purchases, accounting for 75 to 80 percent of consumer spending in the US. Brands including Off White and Raf Simmons are realizing, albeit inadvertently, that marketing menswear to women is an untapped opportunity.

TJX'S POTENTIAL SLUMP

For TJX, 2017 was euphoric; the off-price retailer opened over 100 stores while trading stock nearly three times as many of its department store counterparts. The treasure hunt style experience has been a difficult model for competitors to emulate, leaving consumers eager for a discounted one-stop shopping fix.

Alas, an opening spree was perhaps counterproductive. "The issue for TJX, relative to Ross Stores and Burlington, is size." according to Wells Fargo analyst Ike Boruchow. The gain in store locations could lead to a decline in excitement as the surplus in brand assortment becomes overwhelming to shoppers.

KOHL'S INTRODUCES GROCERIES

In its attempt to "right-size" in-store operations from an 87,000 to 35,000 square foot span, essentially rationalizing underproductive selling space, Kohl's is now faced with the dilemma of what should fill that space.

The Midwest retailer is contemplating an introduction of convenience store and grocery options for its customers, which would firmly plant them as direct competitors with similar models like Target, Meijer, or Walmart.

As a current Amazon partner, Kohl's harbors more than a few assets under its belt. Its strong real estate portfolio, large parking lots and consistent, standalone traffic make a partnership attractive indeed. Whether it will be with Amazon's recently acquired grocer Whole Foods—we aren't sure—but the one-stop shop model is another theme for 2018 we can get behind.

THIS WEEK'S BRIGHT SPOT

Asos has emerged as the top beauty retailer for consumers in the U.K. The brand's approach is highly interactive--loyal millennials are able to try makeup looks from Snapchat, experiment with the private label on a beta AR-driven beauty app, and download beauty content and interviews from the web. This year Asos' influencer list will dominate its video content, focusing on its Face + Body category.

The majority of its 6,000-plus product offering falls under $50, making shopping affordable and enticing. For only $19, consumers can test new items through the "Face + Body Box," while enjoying same-day delivery to London locations and next-day for the rest of the U.K.

With U.S. chains like Sephora and Ulta nonexistent in the U.K, Asos will continue to be an online favorite. “The selection is still better than Amazon, and, excluding them, it’s the quickest option here,” agreed Jourdan Rigg, a 22-year-old American student living in London.

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