Think pink: menswear chains target the male metrosexual

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The Independent Online

They spend hundreds of millions of pounds a year on hair products, skin creams and fragrances. Now they are to be targeted by the fashion industry as it cashes in on the "metrosexual" male's feminine penchant for fashion - and the future is pink.

Six months ago Michael Tchong, America's most influential trendspotter, identified the "metrosexual" as a major new consumer force. In his Trendscape 2004 report, he forecast that the urban group - personified by stars such as David Beckham and Orlando Bloom - would have a pronounced impact this year. It is almost predictable, then, that leading designers are predicting navy blue and black are out for fashion-conscious British men this summer - to be replaced by candyfloss, fuchsia, bubblegum and every other conceivable shade.

As a result, major labels are manufacturing everything from shirts and slacks to belts and brogues in varying tones of cerise. If a man wants to look hip this season, he has to think pink.

Paul Smith, the leading British men's fashion designer, said yesterday that the current motto for retailers and shoppers alike was "bright, bright, bright". "At the moment, pastels are seeing a revival and pink is a very popular colour," he said. "Men in general are becoming braver and more confident with colour. They're realising that this kind of tone looks good in the summer, especially with a tan ... I suppose it's part of a general softening of attitude and tastes."

Reality TV, rapidly becoming a contemporary social barometer, has already seized on the trend. Two new shows - Channel 4's Fairy Godfathers and Living TV's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy - are attempting to appeal to the market. Both programmes involve gay men making over clueless straight men. Pink features heavily.

But it is on the high street where the real metrosexual money is to be made. The British menswear market is worth an estimated £6.1bn. Leading fashion houses, including the knitwear manufacturer Pringle of Scotland, are cashing in on the new pink pound. All are shipping an increasing number of garments and accessories in hues ranging from muted pastel to screaming fuchsia.

Pringle of Scotland's current advertising campaign features pictures of the model Calum Best dressed in white trousers, bright pink boots and a T-shirt which Pringle describes as being "shell pink with neon pink tipping".

Stuart Stockdale, Pringle's pink brogue-wearing design director, said: "In general, men are getting a little bit more adventurous in their clothing. It's been pioneered to a certain extent by David Beckham, who wears quite a lot of pink.

"It is very metrosexual. When designing, I really like to play off the masculine-feminine theme. It's definitely coming a bit more into the mainstream, which is very encouraging."