The runway from Garrett Neff’s KATAMA collection, showing at Australian Fashion Week. (ABC News: Stephanie Dalzell)
Men can now don the latest designer threads without being spurned and that is causing unprecedented growth in the global menswear market, according to fashion experts.
Australian Fashion Week has kicked off in Sydney, and compared to recent years, there has been an increase in menswear designers.
It is a sign of the times as growth in the global menswear market outstrips womenswear.
In Australia, sales of menswear have risen 3 per cent, compared to 2 per cent for women.
Garrett Neff’s KATAMA collection made its international debut on Tuesday. (ABC News: Stephanie Dalzell)
The entire menswear industry is expected to contribute about $600 billion to the global market by 2020, and designer and former fashion buyer Justin O’Shea said it was a “great time to be a man”.
“Men are a little more emancipated … you can be a bogan and you can still wear Gucci — it’s totally fine,” he said.
“You’re not going to be beaten up in a pub anymore, people will just be like: ‘dude, you look really good’.
“The menswear market is totally growing — and you can see that with the influence of brands especially from overseas coming to build retail platforms here.”
One of those brands is Katama, by New York-based designer Garrett Neff.
His menswear collection made its international debut at Australian Fashion Week on Tuesday.
Neff said the men’s fashion industry still had some growing to do. (ABC News: Stephanie Dalzell)
Neff said that while the men’s fashion industry still had some growing to do it was just a matter of time before it caught up to the traditional womenswear market.
He said social media and online blogging sites were levelling the playing field, with more men accessing fashion than ever before.
“Now, you have fashion everywhere: it’s on your phone, your friends are posting photos of clothes they’re wearing, you’re following bloggers, you’re able to read GQ [Magazine] on your phone, so there’s so many more ways to be exposed to fashion,” he said.
O’Shea said he was excited to see the remaining designers left to show at Australian Fashion Week, saying the local fashion industry had been “devoid” of menswear for a long time.
The four showcasing menswear are all Australian designers: Strateas Carlucci, Justin Cassin, Double Rainbouu and Ten Pieces.
The rise and rise of the metrosexual
In the 1990s, British journalist Mark Simpson famously created the term ‘metrosexual’, defined as a “single young man with a high disposable income” who liked to shop.
That man was described as “perhaps the most promising consumer market of the decade” and O’Shea said Simpson’s prediction was on the mark.
“When you look at the luxury fashion index and see the growth of menswear — it’s obviously not going to be as big as women’s for a long time — but the growth is faster, so he’s obviously onto something.”
He echoed Neff’s comments, saying social media and online sales were a driving force behind the growth.
“With online you can try it on at home, you can have your buddies over, a few VBs, you know try on a couple of shirts, or you can figure it out yourself and when you feel comfortable, you can buy it. So online is definitely a great thing for guys,” O’Shea said.
Zac and Jordan Stenmark are poster boys of the burgeoning men’s fashion scene. (ABC News: Stephanie Dalzell)
Models Zac and Jordan Stenmark, who run their own fashion site Stenmark.life, said social media and fashion bloggers had allowed men to feel more comfortable with fashion.
“It’s really empowered a lot of people to share their message, their style, the way they want to dress and the way they think trends are moving. I think it’s great there are more platforms for them to share that,” Jordan Stenmark said.
“I think men are becoming more expressive with what they want to wear and they’re really getting into showing who they are through their clothes rather than ‘this is practical, this is functional’,” his brother Zac added.