IN 1994, before most of these so-called fashion savvy “whippersnappers” were born, journalist Mark Simpson coined the term “metrosexual” to describe contemporary, city-dwelling men who placed increased emphasis on personal grooming and fashion.
Back then the often ridiculed stereotype – the metrosexual – always looking sleek and dandy stood in direct contrast to traditional notions of masculinity, which in one word could be described as unkempt.
Today two decades down the line the archetype has become somewhat of a very conventional attribute.
Metrosexuality (my own terminology) is not only socially acceptable but desirable for men to care about their personal appearance, driving a veritable boom in the men’s fashion market that shows no signs of abating.
This week in my topic – The rise of man-shopping – where Zimbabwe and perhaps the whole world is suddenly realising a growing trend of men spending more money on clothing than ever before I am happy to announce the arrival of several boutiques (maybe I would rather call them male shops to affirm masculinity) that ONLY focus on male apparel.
On that note, local companies have been opening a string of male boutiques around the city to establish and encourage men to adopt this trend.
Some of the shops in Bulawayo are a welcoming den surrounded by luxury clothing with minimalist presentations of just a few of the fancy apparel they boast of.
They are upscale clothing shops which are more of a fashion vault than a messy child’s room.
Most of the shops have the latest, sassy and fashionable garments neatly stacked in over tables and shelves it is hard not to withstand the urge to take a peek into the shop.
They have quickly become some of Bulawayo’s premier shopping destinations for men, capitalising on a growing wave of enthusiasm for menswear and a sea change in the fashion industry, which has traditionally devoted itself to women.
According to research gender power balance in fashion has shifted and in America the market for menswear expanded by 5,3 percent, while women’s clothing grew just 1,4 percent, according to Euromonitor International, hitting an estimated $107 billion in revenue in 2012.
With such statistics there is no doubt that men’s wear market is presently undergoing a renaissance.
The current surge in men’s wear was prompted by the acceptance of dressing neatly complemented by the people refocusing on what has traditionally been a pretty masculine value.
A local men’s wear shop manager, Philip Gadhluma, said times had changed and men were now very much conscious of their appearance than before.
“We focus on men’s apparel and we do offer assistance for those that are clueless when it comes to fashion. We stock a wide range of locally manufactured casual and formal clothing for men,” said Gadhluma, who is a manager at Strada that offers a wide range of men’s wear.
By offering a warm shopping experience and embracing new ideals of men’s clothing, the shops are undoubtedly capitalising on the growing menswear market surge, while promoting and changing the attitudes on fashion in the process.
“Our line of men’s wear offerings is fit for a high-power office meeting, as they are for Sunday church service. We also have a wide variety of fresh casual clothes for a chilled day for relaxing,” said Gadhluma.
Selections include handsome leather shoes, wallets, and accessories such as cufflinks, bow ties, cross belts and leather belts.
Most of the garb in these stores, which I took the liberty to tour stock a wide range of items made in Zimbabwe, which if one didn’t know any better would think they are imports.
Also while researching on the rise in men’s wear I discovered that the trend had tremendously grown in Europe.
According to fashionunited, a UK online fashion blog, even in large Western fashion markets, such as the US, the UK and Germany, the sales of men’s wear has been growing at a faster pace than women’s wear for the past few years.
Euromonitor has named this trend “menaissance” and attributes the sales boom to men becoming more and more aware of their personal appearance, adjusting their grooming habits accordingly.
Now the question is, what are the factors driving this increased interest in men’s fashion?
I would rather leave that question for you the readers to answer, seeing that I would be slightly biased in answering it, as I am too one of the many men that love fashion in Zimbabwe.
Till next week, let’s keep styling. For feedback please sms or whatsapp ONLY 0772337433.