December 4, 2008, - 2:31 pm

Chickification Nation: Guess Who Retailers Are Relying on to Save the Day? . . .

By Debbie Schlussel
. . . Not women, but the “new women”:

Can men rescue the holiday shopping season this year? Retailers hope so. Many stores have remodeled, expanded their men’s departments and added new products and new gifts in an effort to keep men spending through the downturn.
Bloomingdale’s renovated and expanded the men’s tailored clothing floor at its New York flagship. Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Macy’s say they’re carrying more men’s goods this holiday season. J. Crew this month opened its second men’s-only store, in Paramus, N.J., just months after opening its first, in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood. In recent months, designer men’s-only stores have opened in London, from Dolce & Gabbana and Lanvin, and in Los Angeles, from Salvatore Ferragamo. Cheap-chic retailer H&M added a higher-priced men’s collection in September. . . . Luxury-goods makers have a lot riding on men this season.


For the first nine months of the difficult retail-calendar year that began Feb. 3, sales of men’s apparel have risen 1% to $4.3 billion from year-earlier levels, according to MasterCard SpendingPulse, a MasterCard Inc. service that tracks spending in all payment types. Sales of women’s apparel, by contrast, have fallen 6% to $15.1 billion in the period, MasterCard SpendingPulse data shows. That underscores several years of stronger apparel-sales growth for men than for women and upends the industry’s generally accepted idea of men as unwilling shoppers who ignore trends and rarely spend on impulse.
When consumers cut back on spending in October, the men’s category took a hit. But the 8.3% drop in sales for that month wasn’t as steep as the 18.2% dive that women’s apparel took, MasterCard SpendingPulse says.
Last week, when Saks Inc. posted a wider-than-expected third-quarter loss, the luxury retailer cited contemporary men’s apparel and men’s footwear as areas of strength. The men’s business also outperformed other categories at Bloomingdale’s, Chief Executive Michael Gould said at a conference hosted by Emanuel Weintraub Associates late last month. “We have great hopes for the men’s business,” he added.

It used to be that women drove spending and most of the ads and sales were aimed at them. But this new attention to men is not necessarily a good thing. The upturn in men’s clothing and luxury goods sales is due to a trend I watch on this site–the chickification of men. They’re becoming more trend- and fashion-conscious. While I’m sure some of this is due to spending by gay males, they’ve remained a constant and the uptake is due to the feminization of America’s men, causing more and more of them to be fashion slaves. Yup, men are the new women, more and more and more.

[M]en have grown more fashion-conscious and continue to update their wardrobes with slimmer silhouettes and to replace items that wear out. Women, by contrast, have more clothes in the closet that they can rotate and feel less need to buy more. . . .
Sales of men’s apparel and accessories can produce higher profit margins for retailers. One reason, says Harry Bernard, senior executive vice president with retail consultants Colton Bernard Inc., is new merchandise doesn’t arrive as often, putting less pressure on retailers to cut prices and clear out goods to make room for new styles. Men tend to be “less price-sensitive than women are when it comes to buying,” adds Sanjay Srikanth, a partner at consulting firm A.T. Kearney.

Hmmm . . . Maybe Oprah can do an “Oprah’s Favorite Things for Men” show, complete with moisturizer, mani/pedi kits, and pastel nailpolish.

10 Responses

Say Debbie, in all your research, did you happen to come across any good deals on Manbags?
Jimmy Lewis
SCS, Michigan

Jimmy on December 4, 2008 at 3:23 pm

What are “man bags”?
Like most guys, I reckon I like to wear pretty much the same thing, jeans and T-shirt, day in and day out, day after day after day.
There ain’t no women around to complain, so I can be as comfortable and as slovenly as I please.
But, I am sort of fashion conscious, in a military sense, for there are occasions when I’ll really dress up, such as attending a patriotic event.
Then, I put my medals on my suit coat, my spurs on my boots, and have my cavalry stetson on my head.
At a Scottish or Celtic event, I go all out and wear my kilt, with a plaid, my medals on my Argyll jacket, and my dirk and my sword strapped to my side.
As a matter of fact, I’ll be doing that in a couple of days (i.e., Saturday 06 December 2008), when I go to Alexandria, Virginia to march with my clan in the annual Scottish Christmas Walk, which is probably the biggest and most bodacious Scottish event of the entire year in this area.
Now that I think of it, when I’m at the ranch in Utah, I wear cowboy boots, a cowboy hat, and my revolver, which is normal attire in that area.
So, yeah, I reckon there’s times when I’m mighty fashion conscious.
I remember when I was performing at a theatre in Idaho, and the guy in charge told me to go buy some cowboy clothes, because if I was going to sing cowboy songs, then folks expected me to look like a cowboy.
Neat, huh?
Thank you.
John Robert Mallernee
Official Bard of Clan Henderson
Armed Forces Retirement Home
Washington, D.C. 20011-8400

writesong on December 4, 2008 at 4:14 pm

Hey Debbie where did you get those legs in Bloomingdales !
The main problem here is not to loose focus on who pushed Obama into the spot light. One name Oprah ! Do not give credit or creedance to someone who can spin out to the credulous following anything goes.Boycott Oprah period.
Now mens fashion was always alive & well you just need to know where and when to shop. Monday’s are the best days to shop Neimans, Bloomies,Saks, Macy’s. Why that is when they cut the prices to the bone. Simm’s is another but you have to shop these place if you are a real bargin hunter.
Lately I have been going to GOODWILL , Reason I have found excellent bargains fine quality clothes at unbelievable prices, yes Armani lives at GOODWILL along with other fine quality Men & Women high quality designer brands. BETTER PRICES THAN THE OUTLET STORES!
OH ! I have let the cat out of the bag.
Do not take my word for it check it out!
Johnny V

Johnny V on December 4, 2008 at 4:24 pm

*sigh*, I love a man in a kilt. There goes my Scottish blood pounding in my temples. 😉
But metrosexuals? Yuk!

mplumb on December 4, 2008 at 5:17 pm

There is alot of money in the feminization of the American “man”. The retailers and advertizers probably realize how much money they would make off of men if men spent it in the same way many women do. (Other than on cars, motorcycles, guns and tools) Men usually make do with two or three pairs of shoes, (usually only replaced when worn out) only buy clothing when what they have is worn out (or rots off of our bodies) or when special clothing is needed for work or hunting. This doesn’t result in too many trips to department stores for most of us, and the few times that it does, Meijers or Walmart will usually do unless we need a suit. (which usually only happens a couple times in a lifetime unless a suit is your work uniform) Something really sick that I heard about recently is makeup and makeup bags for “men”. It’s bad enough they got almost all the men dying their hair now. Have you noticed that you don’t see hardly any men with gray hair any more? Some talk show guy recently said something to the effect of: “there are no old men any more. They all pump themselves full of Viagra, Rogaine and “just for men”, and want to stay thirty until the day they die”. Myself, I have a full head of gray hair, and if anyone isn’t satisfied with the color of it, they can kiss my ass.

rtaylor174 on December 4, 2008 at 8:00 pm

This self induced emasculation of American men played itself out on election when Men were voting for COBRAMA to take care of them. For men to publicly state they wanted COBRAMA for universal health care, to create jobs for them, or to get them out of their worthless mortgage, PLEASE. Or how about “Men” voting for Gay Marriage? Wow sounds like Bill Maher. Whatever happened to self-determination? They sounded like single mothers who were abandoned. The liberal media has taken manhood out of men by shaming any iota of masculinity.
Look at Anderson Cooper there is homosexual who tries to portray himself as a man. MTV has a new show called “Bromance”. WTF? What a joke. As long as homosexuals control Hollywood, the marketing departments and ad agencies look for more quasi-men to appear in your community. Have you heard men talk like women, where every sentence sounds like a question? Whatever happened to speaking with conviction and “Say what you mean, and mean what you say.”?
When men have the same reason to dress like women that is pathetic. Ask a woman why she dresses too revealing and it ISNT to impress men but to compete with other women. When men dress to impress other men or show of to other men they basically are insecure of their masculinity. These “men” should go to this website and take notes.

californiascreaming on December 4, 2008 at 11:00 pm

I see your point about feminization, but I think there’s another way to look at it. I think casual, even business casual has gone to extremes, with too many men looking like bums,
If I went into a nice restaurant, say for a friend’s 20th anniversary party, I think it’s a little nicer if the patrons in general are dressed well. Often, at such occasions, people dress like they’re going to a soccer game.
I think it’s the same thing as wearing school uniforms. A lot of people believe wearing uniforms in school promotes good behavior, and better study habits. I think the same is true, in a more general sense, for wearing tailered clothing in office environments.

c f on December 5, 2008 at 9:02 am

One other thing — rmemeber that the breakdown of dress codes and advent of casual wear really came out of the 60s. Many college dorms made residents dress up for certain meals, and long hair was an oddity.
That all changed in the 60s and the increasing casualization after that had its roots in the 60s; leisure suits in the 70s, the ragged look of computer professionals, etc. I think there is an undercurrent (not usually concious, and not universal) of disrespect for the norms of society in casualness when it is carried too far.
People I know who are regular churchgoers say they prefer to see people dress up when they go to church because they would take worship more seriously.

c f on December 5, 2008 at 9:10 am

QUOTE: “I’ll be doing that in a couple of days (i.e., Saturday 06 December 2008), when I go to Alexandria, Virginia to march with my clan in the annual Scottish Christmas Walk, which is probably the biggest and most bodacious Scottish event of the entire year in this area.”
Well, as I said I would do, I got all dressed up and marched in the big parade yesterday.
I wrote down all the details I could remember, and posted it on my blog, so you can read all about it.
Either click on my user name, i.e., “writesong”, or go to this URL:
The name of my blog is “OUR ETERNAL STRUGGLE”, and the name of the posted message is “THE SCOTTISH CHRISTMAS WALK OF 2008”.
Thank you.
John Robert Mallernee
Official Bard of Clan Henderson
Armed Forces Retirement Home
Washington, D.C. 20011-8400

writesong on December 7, 2008 at 9:13 pm

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