Men’s apparel has significantly changed in the past few decades. My dad owned a men’s clothing store for more than 20 years, and, as a teen, I witnessed the arrival of colorful shirts and bold ties. Then, years later, as the corporate workforce embraced “Casual Fridays,” new categories of menswear were introduced.
Casual Fridays morphed into casual every day at many businesses, saving consumers hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on dry cleaning bills and lots of time formerly spent ironing shirts.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its safer-at-home work policies led to even more relaxed work wardrobes, leading to what consumer research giant NPD says is a “pivotal point” for menswear. A blog on NPD’s website notes that “traditional menswear categories—including casual and dress pants, suits, sportscoats, jeans, and other non-active apparel—are at a pivotal point.” These categories made up 48% of men’s apparel revenues in the U.S. from January through May 2022, and sales were up 10% from 2021. But NPD says, “This sphere of influence also means brands that typically dominate these categories need to act now before more sports-focused brands creep into this space.”
Interestingly, this year says NPD, “traditional menswear sales are being led by bottoms rather than tops.” Obviously, with a return to workplaces, men needed to pivot from what NPD calls “above the keyboard” dressing to wearing “the complete outfit.” In fact, almost “$1 out of every $5 spent on men’s apparel this year is being spent on jeans, casual pants, and casual shorts.”
And looking ahead, each of these categories is expected to generate more revenue than pre-pandemic times over the next three years, according to NPD’s Future of Apparel study.
NPD calls jeans “the shining star in menswear today,” which is fitting since they’re 2022’s best-selling men’s apparel item. The study shows that the percentage of men saying they wear jeans 5-7days a week increased by seven points in the past six years.
This “shift towards more casual and hybrid has inspired apparel brands to set new trends that align with men’s needs,” NPD reports. Whether you manufacture, distribute, or sell men’s clothing, understand that these trends are “altering the mindset” as men put together their wardrobes.