Inflation, a rocky stock market, lingering concerns over COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine are doing nothing to dampen consumer enthusiasm for purchases.
Menswear retailers coast-to-coast are reporting that sales this spring are nothing short of exceptional as shoppers stock up on summer essentials, hybrid pieces to wear to work and dressy outfits for all those rescheduled weddings and events.
“Business is not up,” said Ken Giddon, president of Rothmans. “Our customers have accumulated decent wealth and there is pent-up demand – no one has bought anything for a long time. And they go to work without the same body. Guys are trying to figure out what to wear in a post- covid[-19] world and they dress for the events.
Bestsellers at Rothmans stores in New York and Scarsdale, New York include Emanuel Berg shirts, Rails shirts and pants, Johnnie-O polo shirts and shorts, Billy Reid polo shirts, quarter zips and pants, Brax as well as Faherty’s. colorful summer collection.
“We’re all amazed at how good business is,” Giddon said. “But the question is: when is it going to end?” Although the answer is uncertain, Giddon thinks the momentum will continue at least until the fall.
Business this spring is also boosted by the upcoming Father’s Day in the United States on June 19. Long considered a second Christmas for the menswear community, spending this year is expected to total $20 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. and Prosper Insights & Analytics. And while experiential gifts such as tickets to a sporting event are the top choice, clothing and accessories also make the list.
Wally Naymon of Kilgore Trout in Cleveland said demand is so intense right now that he can’t keep his shelves stocked. “Everything sells,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my career. It’s like a feeding frenzy. If you have a unique product at a luxury price point, that’s what drives the increases.”
Among the most popular items are soft jackets from Zegna, Isaia, Canali and Boglioli; sportswear from Faherty and James Perse; five-pocket jeans from Sms Denim and Fedeli knitwear. “And tuxedos,” Naymon said. With all the weddings taking place this year, customers are desperately searching the market for outfits from luxury brands such as Zegna, Canali and Isaia, as well as all the accessories including Eton formal shirts and nail sets.
Naymon hopes that this frenzy will continue at least until the fall despite all the macro conditions that could ultimately have an impact. But if it slows down, he’s ready. “Our purchases are in line, our margins are good and we are accumulating cash.”
Hill Stockton, owner of Norman Stockton in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, also reported strong sales. “Business is good,” he said. For the first five months of the year, sales were 55% ahead of last year, which he said was his best year ever.
Stockton attributed the strength in part to its new location near Wake Forest University and the fact that young graduates are looking for interview and first-job suits. But it’s not just young people; the store’s established customers also returned to refresh their wardrobes.
Top sellers include Hickey Freeman and Samuelsohn sport coats and Hickey Freeman and Byron suits.
“The only thing holding us back is the supply chain,” Stockton said. “We can’t get tuxedos or white shirts. And many of our suppliers’ stock programs are empty. They say they are working hard to catch up, but they have been working hard for 10 months.
While bespoke clothing is a star, the core of Norman Stockton’s business is sportswear, and it’s woven sports shirts and five-pocket trousers from Brax, Peter Millar and Johnnie-O that open the way. “And they all have inventory,” Stockton said.
Overall, he said it was “hard to follow, but it’s a big deal to have. I think it will continue like this until the fall. Men are still catching up because they haven’t bought anything for two years or what they have doesn’t fit anymore. I don’t sell one pair of pants, I sell two or three at a time. The only question is how long can we keep it.
Lindsay Morton, president of Andrisen Morton in Denver, said business was in double digits through 2019, which was the store’s highest volume yet. “Revenues are much better and our foot traffic is also up.” The store added more than 900 new customers in the past year, she said, representing an additional $2.1 million in volume and an average transaction of $1,800.
“I can’t put my finger on what’s driving the company, but it seems like they’re just tired of looking at their cupboards and wanting something new,” she said. “And they also want to support local businesses that have been in the industry for a long time.”
Specifically, she said, gains in bespoke clothing sales were “huge,” led by Isaia, Canali and Zegna sports suits and coats. Marco Pescarolo five-pocket trousers as well as Fedeli cotton sweaters, jersey polo shirts and swimwear were also strong. Brunello Cucinelli sportswear, which has seen the “strongest growth in COVID[-19]also continues to perform with best-selling double-faced cashmeres and novelty sweaters.
Looking ahead, Morton said she anticipates a “slight slowdown in the third and fourth quarters as we annihilate large numbers relative to 2021.” But she doesn’t expect business to “flatten out” until next spring.
A Ma Maniere, which operates stores in Atlanta; Washington, DC and Houston, found success with its Lanvin collaboration and brands such as Dior, Burberry, Saint Laurent and Fear of God. Kevin Chao, who heads the product and retail team at A Ma Maniere, said customers also buy jeans and bottoms from Amiri, t-shirts and tops from Rhude and shorts and socks from Gallery Dept. The popular Air Force 1 sneaker from Nike is a best seller. this season alongside Dior’s B22 and B23 sneakers, Amiri skeleton sneakers, Lanvin curb sneakers and laid-back Yeezy Slides and Fear of God mules.
“People are getting out and traveling more with the normalization of the world, so they’re very vocal in terms of general style choices,” Chao said. He added that t-shirt sales have increased as temperatures rise as summer approaches and stores have seen “an increase in high comfort styles including mules, slip-ons and luxury sandals.
The new Ant/dote retailer which opened in Atlanta this month is finding favor with men who buyer and creative director Karlo Steel describes as “very fashion-savvy but don’t necessarily subscribe to the more ‘obvious’ ideas. on fashion”.
“We’ve found that our customers tend to gravitate toward design-driven items, often in bold silhouettes or with sheer detail, in almost every category,” Steel added. “Brands like Rick Owens, Dries Van Noten and Undercover are good examples of that.”
Steel has also named Y/Project and Pleats Please as popular brands that can be worn at the discretion of the customer.
“With shoes, we’ve seen an incredible response from Guidi, whose object-dyed handcrafted boots have become de rigueur for discerning men who demand the highest quality. And we can’t stock GeoBaskets or Ramones from Rick Owens,” Steel said. “For accessories, these are sensational pieces. Dita or Kuboraum styles are doing very well. We’ve even sold some of Paco Rabanne’s greatest jewelry to men. In fact, many of our male customers don’t care whether a garment was designed with their specific gender in mind or not, if it fits and looks good then they buy it.
Ashley Petrie, senior vice president of merchandising at Fred Segal, also sees a shift towards “fashion-oriented items” such as casual tailoring, faux leather, novelty shirts – “flowers, embroidery, abstract prints” – patchwork and DIY repurposed styles, and matching sets in bold colors and fabrics.
“People are looking to dress up and make a statement beyond the brand or logo, they’re looking for key seasonal items,” Petrie said. “So far this year, we’ve seen an exciting return to in-store shopping, with our community looking for something experiential and immersive, beyond the product itself.”
Petrie added that Fred Segal is seeing record growth in stores and expects that to continue throughout the year.
“Spring has proven that consumers are not only ready to shop, but are arriving with the intention to spend and make serious investments,” she said. “We noticed that customers were evaluating their buying decisions differently, looking to invest more in quality and uniquely crafted products rather than spreading their wallets across a wide variety of items. There is a noticeable conscious decision by the majority of customers who enter our store, looking for carefully selected pieces that will last. There seems to be a higher demand for something that looks more exclusive and well-made than ever before.