Men’s apparel market small but steady

Apr 01, 2006 10:30 PM  By

Clothes may make the man, but the men’s clothing segment doesn’t make up much of the catalog house file universe. Names from mailers that sell exclusively men’s consumer apparel account for only 2.5% of the 12-month consumer apparel catalog buyers available for list rental or exchange, according to New York-based media brokerage services firm ParadyszMatera. (This excludes work-clothing and mixed-gender catalogs.)

Whereas numerous lists of women’s and mixed-gender apparel merchants have more than 1 million active buyers, the largest menswear list, Redcats USA’s KingSize, has just slightly more than 398,000 12-month buyers. The cataloger, whose list has grown 9.6% between the fourth quarter of 2004 and the fourth quarter of 2005, specializes in clothes for the “big and tall” market.

Year-over-year growth for the menswear house file universe at large was just shy of 10%. During the fourth quarter of 2005 the names of more than 1.4 million 12-month buyers were on the market, up from less than 1.3 million the previous fourth quarter. This is due largely to the introduction of the Casual Male Big and Tall list, with nearly 123,000 12-month buyers, onto the market during the fourth quarter of last year. According to ParadyszMatera, the active buyers universe in the menswear segment has shown “a more consistent pattern of growth than other apparel categories like women’s or mixed gender.”

This growth came despite a slight decline in the use of incentives. Whereas 26% of the men’s apparel catalogs tallied in 2004 had offered some sort of incentive, only 19% of last year’s catalogs had. And whereas 18% of the books received in 2004 had some sort of free shipping and handling offer, last year just 14% did. Much of that decline was due to a change in strategy at Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, one of the segment’s most active mailers. Having relied more heavily on S&H offers to drive sales in 2004, Jos. A. Bank pulled back last year. Interestingly, the decision to cut back its free shipping offers doesn’t seem to have hurt its prospecting efforts: The size of Jos. A. Bank’s active buyer file grew nearly 12%, to just over 101,000.

The percentage of menswear mailers offering discounts held steady at 9%. Use of deferred payment as a promotion dipped from 4% to 3%. KingSize is especially fond of this incentive, regularly offering it with credit-card orders of more than $75 made via phone.