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Post Covid, department stores are refocusing their menswear offer

(Source: Iportret of Envato.)

Department stores globally are adjusting their product offer to reflect rapid changes in the menswear category as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the category wears off. 

According to research undertaken by the International Association of Department Stores and multinational business and creative intelligence consultancy NellyRodi, the Covid-19 pandemic and its gradual disappearance have translated into “a V-shaped trajectory” for the men’s fashion category in department stores. 

When the pandemic hit in 2020 and working from home became the norm in place of office meetings and international business travel, menswear sales took a dive. But last year menswear rebounded to its pre-pandemic levels, reaching on average 14 per cent of total department-store sales. Online sales, favoured during lockdowns, might have been expected to decrease as life returned to normal, however, the research showed the trend endured, accounting for 3 per cent of total sales in 2019 to 6 per cent in 2021.

Department stores are now balancing meeting consumer demand for the long-lasting casualwear trend with the revival of occasion wear. Workwear sales are picking up as life returns to normal and stores are also adjusting their store layouts to include new emerging trends such as genderless fashion. NellyRodi said second-hand fashion will soon develop in the menswear department, also requiring layout adjustments.

The consultancy found that occasion wear sales improved to 9 per cent of department stores’ menswear business last year as weddings resumed, but many brands in the subcategory are still facing supply chain issues resulting in many products being sold out, translating into missed opportunities at a time of strong demand.

Workwear accounted for 18 per cent of menswear sales in department stores last year as people returned to the office, sparking strong growth in jackets at Spain’s El Corte Ingles, and semi-formal styles at Hong Kong’s Sogo. 

Sportswear is proving a strong and “safe bet” in menswear, the research concluded.

“Depending on the market, it can be high-performance golf products at Sogo, or outdoor tech products at Denmark’s Magasin du Nord. Overall, such products represented 8 per cent of the men’s fashion business last year,” the study concluded. “While the lines are blurring between sports and fashion, this also questions the store layout.”

This is prompting department stores to create sport-related in-store events to catch male customers’ attention, which is easier than reaching them on social media. At the same time, this type of initiative fits post-Covid consumer craving for live interaction. 

Venezuela’s Beco and Magasin du Nord, for example, are creating biking and golfing collaborations and selling matching father-and-son products.

“In-store events are a fair option – whether they are sport-related or not, creating ‘moments” and experiences work their magic to answer consumers’ need for human interaction,” said the report.

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