Friday, July 27, 2007

Peacock Revolution' Boosts Menswear Sales


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“Make the waist slimmer,” Kim Ju-yeong, an office worker, told sales staff at a department store when he bought a semi-casual suit with an already slim waistline. The dress shirt he chose, with its smooth material, resembles a woman’s. “Though the shirt’s not comfortable when I’m working, it’s very chic and I like it,” he says.

Kim isn’t alone in his flamboyant choices. Lotte Department Store plans to launch an accessories corner just for men on the fifth floor of its main store in fall since more and more people come to menswear shops to buy accessories like lapel pins and key chains. Lotte also plans to open more stores for men’s clothes. "Flamboyant fashion is in for men in their 20s and 30s, and even during the low season its popularity is soaring,” says a Lotte staffer. This so-called “peacock revolution” is a godsend for businesses during the spending slump.

◆Extravagance breathes life into consumer spending

Sales for conventional suits with the emphasis on comfort are stagnating, but sales of super-slim semi-formal suits have more than doubled in the first half of the year, according to the industry. Men’s casual brand Intermezzo presented an “extreme slim” collection for the fall, slimming down the width of current slim suits by another as 2.5 cm. “Thanks to the ‘perfect body’ syndrome among men, suits that expose the body silhouette are getting popular,” an Intermezzo staffer says.

Even traditional suit makers like Cheil Industry and LG Fashion are launching more flamboyant lines with emphasis on design. “Straight and boring clothes no longer hold their place in today’s market. Men in their 20s and 30s, in particular are buying extravagant suits, and their purchasing power doesn’t lag behind those in their the 40s,” an LG Fashion insider said.

Shinsegae Department store now runs outlets targeting men in their 20s and 30s such as the Rookieblue and MSF in its main store. The explosive popularity of men’s fashion has led to the fall of gender boundary for women’s brand. Women’s suit brand TIME has launched a line for men, TIME homme. Casual clothing brand Thursday Island, which mostly made clothes for women, introduced Thursday Island for Men, with others following the suit like codes-combine’s codes-combine for man and Beanpole’s Beanpole Homme.

◆Purses for men

More and more men’s accessories are also available. Every day, about 30 purses for men are being sold at Louis Vuitton and Prada in the Galleria department store. Watches, at one point nearly extinct because of cell phones, are back. And more than 5,000 items of men’s jewelry were sold on Internet shopping site Auction, 60 percent up from the year before. Small earrings and necklaces are especially popular. Kim Jung-hee from the Samsung Fashion Institute said, "In the past, comfort was the most important thing in men’s fashion, but now it’s style. The younger generation’s desire to stand out is reflected in their fashions as well.”

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