Mixed apparel: a gender bender

Nov 01, 2007 9:30 PM  By

Not quite sure what mixed gender means? The term describes merchants who sell apparel for both men and women, everything from sportswear to business apparel. The sector includes some very well-known catalogers. And it contributes 28% of all the 12-month apparel buyers available for list rental or exchange.

Some segments may be facing shrinking universes, but not this one. The total count rose to 16 million names during the second quarter of this year. That means a 2.7% hike over the same period in 2006 — or net growth of 418,000 names, according to list brokerage ParadyszMatera.

The catalogers with the largest 12-month universe counts all surpass the million-name plateau.

L.L. Bean is ahead of the pack — it has the names of more than 4.6 million buyers in its house file. This list grew by 336,000 during the second quarter. Haband follows with roughly 2 million names. And the rest of the top five is rounded out by Eddie Bauer (1.6 million names), Lands’ End (1.6 million), and J. Crew (1.3 million). Both L.L. Bean and Lands’ End offer their lists on exchange only.

Those players excepted, most mailers in the category have relatively small 12-month housefiles. These include Mark Shale (18,000 names), Ben Silver Collection (20,000), and Gorsuch (32,000). All of which target upscale, fashion-conscious consumers.

The most common purchase incentives within the mixed-gender market include free shipping, discount on total order, and deferred payment.

As ParadyszMatera scores them, “Any incentive” indicates those catalogs that offered at least one purchase incentive to any buyer.

Meanwhile, 37% of all mixed-gender apparel mailers offered at least one incentive in 2007, up from 31% last year.

And discounts? Their use increased sharply in this field from 14% in 2006 to 21% so far this year.

What accounts for this increase? It can be attributed to a handful of mailers: Crazy Shirts (10% off any order) and The Territory Ahead (10% to 20% off new affinity card orders).

Free shipping use is up as well, rising from 17% to 20%. Longtime free-shipping mailers like Blair Corp. (which generally offers it with varying levels of purchase) and Boden (typically free shipping with any order) have relied more on the incentive this year than in the past, driving the increase.

House file universe: mixed gender apparel catalogs
2Q
2005
3Q
2005
4Q
2005
1Q
2006
2Q
2006
3Q
2006
4Q
2006
1Q
2007
2Q
2007
Total universe 15.7 15.8 15.8 15.7 15.5 15.6 16.0 15.6 16.0
Mixed gender apparel catalogs with the largest active-buyer files
Rank List name 2Q 2007 house file universe Average order
1 L.L. Bean 4,621,557 $75
2 Haband Masterfile 2,002,942 $45
3 Eddie Bauer Catalog Buyers 1,598,564 $95
4 Lands’ End 1,589,513 $85
5 J.Crew Masterfile 1,265,200 $150
Source: ParadyszMatera