Fashion brands turn to digital to tap potential of menswear

London is looking to establish itself as the leading menswear fashion capital over Paris

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The Independent Online

Britain’s leading fashion brands are hoping to give menswear sales a lift by targeting younger, digitally savvy male shoppers with live streaming and social media to promote the twice-yearly men’s fashion week that began yesterday.

London is looking to establish itself as the leading menswear fashion capital over Paris, New York and Milan by dedicating four days to showcasing the latest trends – and designers and retailers are hoping to turn the catwalk buzz into cash.

Darren Skey, the head of menswear at the luxury department store Harvey Nichols, told Reuters yesterday: “Menswear is evolving at a phenomenal rate. We get customers coming into the store with images from the catwalks, inquiring when or if we are getting certain styles and looks in.”

Long considered the least profitable segment of the fashion industry, menswear is expected to record annual sales of £16.4bn by 2018, still little more than half the £30.4bn forecast for womenswear that year, according to the research firm Mintel.

Annual sales of womenswear in 2013 came to £24.9bn, far outstripping menswear sales of £12.9bn.

The move to tap in to the power of digital services follows an increase in the proportion of men shopping for fashion online, jumping from 52 per cent to 65 per cent in 2013, based on a survey of 2,000 consumers aged over 16.

Mr Porter.com, a luxury online retailer whose website attracts about 1.6 million visitors a month, will launch a clothing collection designed exclusively for the film Kingsman.

“Projects such as Kingsman are developed to reflect our pioneering nature and to ensure that we are providing our customers with something that they cannot get anywhere else globally” said Toby Bateman, the buying director at Mr Porter. “They are also essential in developing brand awareness.”

Similarly, Topman – part of Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group – will create a video with the London-based artist Natalia Stuyk to be screened at its catwalk show and shown online simultaneously.

Burberry will also live-stream its show on Monday, and customers will be able to order clothes online immediately after the show.

Fashion brands will also be relying heavily on social media to generate excitement around brands by collaborating with app developers and tech firms to create installations, online content and wearable tech.

The Danish menswear brand Soulland created an app allowing users at its show to share it on social media, while the youth label Ada + Nik will unveil a “narrative jacket”, a leather jacket with a built-in camera.

Harvey Nichols, which will showcase its collaboration with the clothing brand Trapstar and the New York-based artist Harif Guzman, said it expected its menswear department to continue to grow in the next few years, with a new focus on domestic customers.

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