If you've noticed the men around you dressing a bit better, and the stores where you regularly shop stocking bigger and better offerings in the menswear category, you're not alone: WWD reports that menswear overall has been enjoying a renaissance of sorts, based in part on the recession.
Menswear was apparently a stand-out in terms of sales over the holiday season, and many retailers are banking on an increase in interest in the category for 2011 (and buying accordingly). WWD's report claims that men are buying more tailored pieces -- with a focus on "slim-fitting silhouettes" as well as "dressy sportswear" (read: blazers) that can be worn both for work and weekends. (Somewhere in here, we're betting "Mad Men" has played a part in these sales.) The numbers don't lie, according to WWD:
MasterCard’s SpendingPulse reported that men’s wear sales rose 10.5 percent in the holiday period and Blacks Retail, which tracks sales at independent stores, said men’s apparel sales jumped 20 percent.
Exactly how does the recession factor into the trend? WWD consulted behavioral finance expert Meir Statman, who argued that the recession actually jumpstarted men seeing dressing well as a kind of competition, to give them a literal leg up on potential competitiors. As Statman told WWD:
“It’s not just a matter of impressing women anymore,” he said. “It’s also about impressing potential employers. There is a sense that the competition out there is more fierce.”
Statman went on to make a point that most any women who has ever dropped serious dollars on an It-bag already knows: "Clothing are visible status goods."