Business

Technology

Forecast 2011: Menswear’s e-commerce success story— London

Preface

Despite companies from Slowear to Hermès expanding their global retail presence during the upcoming year, bricks-and-mortar boutiques will face steep competition in 2011 from the e-commerce industry

E-commerce, Shopping

5 January 2011

Despite companies from Slowear to Hermès expanding their global retail presence during the upcoming year, bricks-and-mortar boutiques will face steep competition in 2011 from the e-commerce industry. With sales having increased by 11.4 per cent over the first two weeks of November 2010 alone, e-commerce is one of the fastest growing sectors in retail. And, this year it’s the men’s market that will see the greatest change.Later this month, net-a-porter.com is set to launch its much-heralded menswear-only site, Mr Porter. Natalie Massenet’s London-based company, which was bought last April by Richemont in a deal worth almost €60m, already has more than 3 million (predominantly female) unique users across the globe. Although valued at more than €1bn in the UK alone, there are few shopping sites targeted directly at men. “Most men’s online retail is an afterthought,” says Tyler Thoreson, editorial director of Gilt Man, the menswear arm of Gilt Groupe. Launched in 2007, New York-based Gilt specialises in 36-hour “flash sales” of designer pieces to around one million visitors each month.

With a men’s business valued at over €75m in sales, the company is focusing new efforts on a customer that currently comprises only one third of its user base. Following 10 successful full-price men’s sales, Gilt will launch their full-price menswear site in July, just in time to capture the pre-autumn market. “Rather than an experience designed to reflect the way women shop, we see an opportunity to build something from the ground up with men’s distinct needs in mind,” says Thoreson.Understanding the male consumer online will be a challenge. While men typically buy less frequently than the female consumer, they tend to spend more on each purchase. In 2009 the number of people buying men’s clothing online increased by 25 per cent to just over 12m, but women’s e-commerce is still growing at a faster rate. With a complementary editorial site launched this October, ahead of the full-price offering, Gilt’s approach to getting men to purchase online will be carefully guided. “From the tight edit of brands, to the way they are presented, the editorial voice will be a key component of the site – from homepage to checkout,” explains Thoreson. This approach may indeed be the key to market success.

In March last year, 63 per cent of online purchases from men were from online-only stores. The option to click-and-buy without the hassle of check-out queues and fitting rooms is likely to suit even the most patient of male shoppers.While online shopping may, however, breathe new life into the menswear market for 2011, physical stores have not ceased to be relevant – even for brands whose market grew from successful e-commerce. “We have plans to open in London, and potentially New York,” says Orlebar Brown founder Adam Brown. “It’s key for us to have our own retail space as the collection expands as it’s the only place where we can really show what the lifestyle of our brand is all about.”Aisha Spiers is a Monocle writer based in New York.

Despite companies from Slowear to Hermès expanding their global retail presence during the upcoming year, bricks-and-mortar boutiques will face steep competition in 2011 from the e-commerce industry. With sales having increased by 11.4 per cent over the first two weeks of November 2010 alone, e-commerce is one of the fastest growing sectors in retail. And, this year it’s the men’s market that will see the greatest change.

Later this month, net-a-porter.com is set to launch its much-heralded menswear-only site, Mr Porter. Natalie Massenet’s London-based company, which was bought last April by Richemont in a deal worth almost €60m, already has more than 3 million (predominantly female) unique users across the globe. Although valued at more than €1bn in the UK alone, there are few shopping sites targeted directly at men. “Most men’s online retail is an afterthought,” says Tyler Thoreson, editorial director of Gilt Man, the menswear arm of Gilt Groupe. Launched in 2007, New York-based Gilt specialises in 36-hour “flash sales” of designer pieces to around one million visitors each month.

With a men’s business valued at over €75m in sales, the company is focusing new efforts on a customer that currently comprises only one third of its user base. Following 10 successful full-price men’s sales, Gilt will launch its full-price menswear site in July, just in time to capture the pre-autumn market. “Rather than an experience designed to reflect the way women shop, we see an opportunity to build something from the ground up with men’s distinct needs in mind,” says Thoreson.

Understanding the male consumer online will be a challenge. While men typically buy less frequently than the female consumer, they tend to spend more on each purchase. In 2009 the number of people buying men’s clothing online increased by 25 per cent to just over 12m, but women’s e-commerce is still growing at a faster rate.

With a complementary editorial site launched in October 2010, ahead of the full-price offering, Gilt’s approach to getting men to purchase online will be carefully guided. “From the tight edit of brands, to the way they are presented, the editorial voice will be a key component of the site – from homepage to checkout,” explains Thoreson. This approach may indeed be the key to market success. In March last year, 63 per cent of online purchases from men were from online-only stores. The option to click-and-buy without the hassle of check-out queues and fitting rooms is likely to suit even the most patient of male shoppers.

While online shopping may, however, breathe new life into the menswear market for 2011, physical stores have not ceased to be relevant – even for brands whose market grew from successful e-commerce. “We have plans to open in London, and potentially New York,” says Orlebar Brown founder Adam Brown. “It’s key for us to have our own retail space as the collection expands as it’s the only place where we can really show what the lifestyle of our brand is all about.”

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