Do fashion retailers understand how men shop?

Do fashion retailers understand how men shop?

According to research and reports, men’s fashion is a growing market segment and men are an interesting target group

Stefan van Rompaey

According to research and reports, men’s fashion is a growing market segment and men are an interesting target group.

They increasingly do have a clothing budget, are quite demanding, prove to be somewhat less sensitive to price and promotion, more to brands.

Exactly the kind of customers you would like to welcome in your stores, don’t you think? Then why is it, that the men’s department is still being given a step motherly treatment by many well-known fashion retailers?

Okay, in these times you can’t simply get away with gender stereotypes. “The” man does not exist. Yet, a question that fascinates me is, for example, why family fashion stores invariably hide the men’s department somewhere in the back. As an impatient male shopper you have to search (because the signaling is rarely clear) past the women’s department, the children’s department and – really! – the lingerie department to end up somewhere in the basement or on the second floor.

It’s as much as saying: “Hey, why don’t you just go home, get your laptop and shop online?” This seems to be the policy at all the big names in the industry: COS, Zara, H&M, C&A, Primark, New Look, Esprit… exceptions are hard to find. And you know what? Some of these retailers have been publishing weak results lately, because they struggle with e-commerce. Exactly.

If you know that most men are totally uninterested in women’s and children’s clothing, do not intend to spend a lot of time in the store, usually shop on their own, and know very well in advance what they’re looking for, why would a retailer do something like that? The logical decision would be to simply place the men’s department at the entrance. Come in, make your choice efficiently, pay and leave. Ready, steady, go. You don’t need artificial intelligence to see that, just common sense. Wouldn’t you think?

Well, apparently not. Someone smarter than me should explain this someday. I might miss part of the story. But those retailers might miss something too: sales, I’m afraid. What do you think?

About Stefan Van Rompaey

Stefan Van Rompaey is Chief Editor of RetailDetail, the leading b2b retail platform in Belgium, hosting websites, newsletters, print magazines, events and a unique retail experience center, Home of Retail (, presenting the customer journey of the future (based in Antwerp). He has about 25 years of experience as a retail journalist and is considered an opinion leader in the sector with his columns, interviews and background articles on retail trends. Apart from that, Stefan is also a family man, foodie, culture lover and musician.