Men’s apparel universe holding steady

Unlike the women’s and children’s apparel markets, the men’s apparel rental file universe has seen small but steady gains during the past few years. New York-based media brokerage services firm ParadyszMatera estimates that 1.35 million active buyers were on the market during the fourth quarter of 2004, up nearly 7% from the fourth quarter of 2003. The fourth quarter of ’04 also marked a two-year high in terms of universe size, which is impressive when you consider that because holiday buyers aren’t usually available until the following quarter, fourth-quarter house file sizes are often the lowest of the year.

While the men’s apparel universe has fared better than the women’s apparel universe during the past few years (see the January issue of Catalog Age for ParadyszMatera’s data regarding the women’s apparel marketplace), it is also far smaller — roughly 4% the size of the women’s universe. Catalogers that sell exclusively men’s clothing (as opposed to mixed-gender merchants such as Eddie Bauer, and excluding workwear) account for only 2% of all 12-month consumer apparel catalog buyers available for list rental or exchange. What’s more, the majority of men’s apparel house files have fewer than 100,000 names. Even the largest, Brylane’s KingSize catalog, which specializes in clothing for big and tall men, had fewer than 364,000 12-month buyers for the fourth quarter of 2004.

Among the men’s apparel catalogs that have seen significant growth is Blair Corp.’s Irvine Park. The catalog of moderate-priced menswear enjoyed 110% growth — an additional 40,000 names — in 2004. A more upscale counterpart, Charles Tyrwhitt Shirt Co., boosted its house file size 91%, to roughly 43,000 12-month buyers.

For all of 2004, 29% of the men’s apparel mailings featured some sort of promotion. That’s below the 34% usage rate of the consumer apparel market as a whole, but up from 20% for 2003. Free shipping was the most popular promotion, featured in 18% of the men’s apparel mailings, while only 4% offered deferred payment.

Men’s apparel mailers with the largest active buyer files
Rank List name 4Q 2004 house file universe Average order
1 KingSize 363,143 $100
2 Orvis Men’s Catalogs Division 161,898 $175
3 International Male 109,996 $115
4 Jos. A. Bank Clothiers 90,364 $140
5 Paul Fredrick Menstyle 88,231 $170
Source: ParadyszMatera

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