Skip to comments.Retailers welcome the new male consumer. He’s hooked on designer sneakers, fashion and grooming...
Posted on 12/27/2013 6:20:27 PM PST by rickmichaels
Andrew Grella is enthusing about the benefit of eyeliner for menand it has nothing to do with mimicking guyliner pioneers David Bowie and Russell Brand. The 22-year-old founder of ManUp, a Mississauga, Ont.-based line of mens cosmetics, skincare and fragrances, recommends men dust the $20 Eye Chalk lightly on the lower lid. It makes the white of the eye pop, he says. If youre wearing it properly, no one will know.
Grella, who incorporated ManUp in 2010 while studying commerce at Ryerson University, is on the vanguard of a retail moment, one focused on the rise of a new male consumer whos an advance man of sorts for seismic social and economic shifts. He arrives on a road paved with manscaping, Manxx shapewear and mantyhose, all evidencealong with the rise of manoxeria, the dismissive term for male eating disordersthat consumer pressures are now genderless. And now, were watching the dismantling of the last taboo: male makeup. This fall, designer Marc Jacobs launched unisex beauty products. Last month, designer Tom Ford, the best-groomed man on the planet, added a mens beauty line backed by Estée Lauder that includes concealer, bronzing gel and $150 skin-revitalizing concentrate. Its forecast to ring in $2.5 million in its first year.
ManUp, which sells online and moved into its first Toronto storefront this month, isnt in the same leagueat least not yet. Grella saw an untapped market after his skin broke out before his Grade 12 prom. He finally agreed to his mothers offer to cover it with makeup and was amazed by the result. It inspired his all natural line, which is packaged in glossy black with playful macho namesEye grenade mascara, Jackhammer cleanser.
Tom Ford also tries to neutralize any girly associations: Its not a feminizing product, he has said. Its designed to make your skin look better. Ford wants mens makeup out of the closet: I know so many guysgay, straight, whateverwho steal a womans concealer and dab a little on their fingers when no one is looking. A recent British survey similarly found 10 per cent of men borrowed womens products. And a recent state of men survey of 1,000 men in the U.S. and Britain conducted by advertising giant JWT revealed shifting tolerances: 60 per cent approved of skincare products for men; 18 per cent approved of foundation; 12 per cent accepted eyeliner. Grella, who counts James Bond and the actor Andrew Garfield as fashion role models, embodies the new attitude. He wears ManUps No Shine camouflage powder and Cover Stick. I still break out, he says. Hes conscious of his appearance, reporting that he dropped 35 lb. one summer: I felt people wont take me seriously if I was overweight. The JWT report also found men struggle with the destabilizing concerns that fuel female consumerism: 79 per cent felt under pressure to be in shape; top worries included man boobs, beer belly and height.
Blurred gender lines are becoming manifest on store floors, literally. In January Holt Renfrew officially launches its pilot Holts Commona unisex department boasting such fashionable brands Rag + Bone, Zadig & Voltaire, Comme des Garçons and the Kooples. The concept reflects a redefinition of the contemporary world today, says Barbara Atkin, Holts vice-president of fashion direction: More and more, shopping is a social activity, a hub of interaction between genders. Barriers still exist, Atkin notes: women have no problem raiding the mens department, but men wont do the reverse. Men tell her: Were skinny guys and we cant find jeans skinny enough. But they then reject her suggestion to try on womens J Brand jeans. But that stigma is disappearing, she says. Men are embracing self-expressionas they did in the 60s. Only today its not counterculture: its self-branding.
Men are the new women, says Bret Pittman, director of J. Crews the Ludlow Shop, a New York City-based chain of mens stores. Pittman attributes the shift in part to the Internet: Men are now exposed to lifestyle and street-style blogs. They can be as educated as women. But gender fluidity on the shop floor also reflects a redefinition of men and womens social roles: I have two kids, Pittman says. And I spend a lot more time in a traditional mom role than my dad did. He sees mens interest in style as a virus that taps into the male territorial imperative: Certain men start dressing better and you start to notice it and then it becomes a competition. The 2011 movie Crazy Stupid Love starring Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell provides a template, he says: You saw a cool young guy tutoring the older slob. Basically thats happening on a national scale. The Ludlow Shop, which sells suits cut in the fashionable slim silhouette championed by designers Hedi Slimane and Thom Browne, is a beneficiary: its pilot store opened in New York City in 2011; the suits are now available at dozens of locations.
Men are the new frontier for retailers: Harry Rosen, Holt Renfrew and the Bay have all expanded their mens departments and offerings. And its a market poised for growth, says Sandy Silva, a fashion industry analyst at the NPD Group. Womens clothing sales are down, she says, but the market catering to 20- to 35-year-old men is up 18 per cent over a year ago, or almost $400 million, with the greatest growth in the smart casual categorysuits, dress shirts, pants, separates, outerwear. Pittman explains: Its wearing a suit when you dont have to.
Terms once limited to womens wear, such as day to evening clothing worn to work then adapted for laterhave infiltrated the mens market, Silva says. So have high-end shoe brands once exclusive to women, like Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin.
That latter development signals a profound shift in sensibility, says fashion historian Elizabeth Semmelhack, senior curator of Torontos Bata Shoe Museum: That men are willing to wear brands so associated with sexualized femininity is groundbreaking. Seepage from female culture into male culture is very rare.
As Semmelhack sees it, the sneakerfication of male style, witnessed on red carpets Robert Downey Jr. in a suit and Gucci runners, Justin Bieber in a tux and Lanvin kickshas given rise not only to the new male consumer but a new definition of masculinity. Its a theme explored in the museums current exhibit, Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture. Men can be shopaholics about sneakers without any stigma, Semmelhack says: They can collect and lust after them with no perceived loss of masculinity. Brand choicefrom Air Jordans, vintage, Adidas superstars, Converse high topshas come to signal identity in a way business brogues cannot. Bonnie Brooks, president of the Hudsons Bay Company, agrees, noting that the companys expanded mens shoe department is on fire: Shoes are a gateway drug for men.
The upshot? Nothing less than the slow dismantling of traditional patriarchy: The suited Bay St. banker has been usurped as a masculine role model by Internet boy geniuses, musicians, actors, Semmelhack says. Its a model focused on youth, success and insane amounts of money. Its linked to what Jay Z says: Im not a businessman, Im a business, man.
And in the end, its about business and economics. Genderless consumption is grounded in the growing gap between rich and poor, Semmelhack says: In a world where you have wealth and everyone else, it behooves the makers to create as big, and as fractured and fragmented a market as possible. As they have: Tom Fords womens concealer sells for $60, his mens concealer, available at a separate mens counter, costs half that. So it appears the rise of the male consumer is ripe with hidden opportunities for women as well.
Andrew Grella is enthusing about the benefit of eyeliner for menDefinitely not a Visigoth.
MUST BE QUEER.
Do they sell women’s panties too?
There’s another one who won’t survive society’s impending collapse.
Businesses will go broke waiting for some of us to buy that crap.
Well ... not me ... I must be an “old male”. I look so bad that people cross the street when I come walking down the sidewalk, not wanting to get mugged ... LOL ...
Females (who can’t pass the physicals) into the marine corps. Makes wearing eye liner and designer underwear. California public school bathrooms open to any sex who wants to enter. Homosexual “marriages” actually state approved and licensed. Lots of cars but almost no babies anymore. Hummmmm ? We are being Transformed, as promised. , What could possibly go wrong?
Men are the new women, says Bret PittmanNo question about Bret, it seems.
Effeminate behavior cannot create “a new definition of masculinity.”
The writer is very confused.
Because that Pajama Boy demographic is so huge.
he’s either got a government job so he has wads of cash to spend or he’s on the government dole, which means he has wads of cash to spend, or he’s an illegal alien getting wads of cash to spend from the government while working tax free under the books...
They may be onto something there.
Of course when the SHTF it will be nice to recognize ‘the uniform’
What's next, powdered wigs and codpieces? Vain feminized fops and dandies have made appearances in the past. It's not new, and it's not good.
The low T problem might get better,just wait till his nuts drop.
One test: Put em’ in a room with me. If they can kick my butt they have passed the test.
Streaked ovaries don’t drop.
Yup. That’s just DANDY!
I don’t know if they’ll kick it, but they may try to sneak up on your butt.
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