Men’s apparel + women’s apparel = growth

The number of 12-month women’s apparel catalog buyers may be declining (see “Women’s apparel universe now on the wane,” January issue), but mixed-gender apparel books are gaining in popularity. According to New York-based media brokerage services firm ParadyszMatera, the names of about 16.5 million 12-month buyers from catalogs that sell clothing for men and for women are available for rental or exchange. That’s a year-over-year increase of nearly 6%. All told, mixed-gender apparel catalog buyers account for about 30% of all 12-month consumer apparel catalog buyers on the market.

The venerable L.L. Bean has the largest mixed-gender apparel file, with more than 4.3 million 12-month buyers as of the first quarter of the year. And surprisingly for a file so large, it has also seen outstanding growth — 14% — during the past year.

Among smaller catalogs that have grown their buyer files impressively during the past year is Boden. The U.K.-based mailer has been selling adult apparel in the U.S. for less than three years, but its 12-month buyer file already has 99,000 names, up 191% from last year. Upscale cataloger/retailer Mark Shale has seen strong growth too — 71% during the past year, to 19,000 12-month buyers.

Just as the overall universe of buyers from mixed-gender apparel catalogs has grown, so has the merchants’ use of incentives. Among the mailers tracked by ParadyszMatera, 35% offered some sort of promotion so far this year, up from 28% last year. Free shipping offers have been the most popular, with 24% using them so far this year compared with 17% last year. The percentage of mixed-gender apparel merchants offering discounts has held steady at 13%, however, while so far this year none have touted deferred payment, compared with 1% last year.

House file universe: mixed-apparel catalogs
1Q
2003
2Q
2003
3Q
2003
4Q
2003
1Q
2004
2Q
2004
3Q
2004
4Q
2004
1Q
2005
Total universe 14.4 14.5 14.7 15.5 15.6 15.6 15.5 15.7 16.5
Apparel catalogers with the largest active buyer files
Rank List name 1Q 2005 house file universe Average order
1 L.L. Bean 4,301,249 $75
2 Lands’ End 2,006,099 $85
3 Eddie Bauer Catalog Buyers 1,923,649 $95
4 J.Crew Masterfile 1,100,542 $150
5 Blair Corp. 764,763 $60
Source: ParadyszMatera

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