WHAT’S NEW: In tough economic times, men are traditionally the first to cut back on buying clothes, but there’s been a major shift. Over the past year, men – enticed by a new slimmed-down silhouette – have been on a buying spree, while women have pulled back even more. The lopsided fortunes is creating a rare sales disparity that hasn’t been seen in years.
THE NUMBERS: Menswear sales rose 0.8 percent in the year ended in May, while women’s wear sales fell 3.5 percent, according to the most recent data from market research firm NPD Group. The gap has widened recently, with women’s wear sales dropping 3 percent in the three months ended in May, while menswear sales rose 2.3 percent.
THE IMPACT: Men’s renewed interest in updating their wardrobe is leading some stores to change how they market to men, who are now increasingly buying their own clothing.
REALITY CHECK: With women’s fashions accounting for 65 percent of the $155 billion adult clothing market, the rising fortunes of menswear – a market half the size of women’s wear – hasn’t significantly lifted overall sales. For the year ended May, adult clothing sales fell 2 percent.