Menswear fuels global luxury boom, executives say

Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:34am EDT
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By Phil Wahba

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Whether it's a desire to be as dapper as Don Draper on television's "Mad Men," a need to look good for a job interview or just a hankering for new duds, men have increased their spending on fancy clothes, and executives expect the boom to continue.

German fashion house Hugo Boss AG, which generates the vast majority of its sales from menswear, is targeting sales gains of 50 percent to 3 billion euros by 2015, helped by a cultural shift around the world that has led more men to be interested in fashion and invest in their appearance.

"Men are just waking up to the beauty of being dressed well," Hugo Boss Chief Executive Claus-Dietrich Lahrs told Reuters on the sidelines of the Fairchild Fashion Media Men's Wear Summit in New York on Thursday.

The global luxury menswear market is growing at about 14 percent a year, or nearly double the pace of luxury women's wear, according to consulting firm Bain & Co.

With demand in Europe cooling because of a slow economy and questions about whether the Chinese luxury market can keep up its torrid pace of growth, many retailers are betting on -- and benefiting from -- a luxury boom in the United States.

Alfred Dunhill, a British men's chain owned by Swiss luxury goods group Richemont, operates three U.S. stores and aims to add five more within two years.

"We look at America as a bit of an unpicked fruit," Dunhill CEO Christopher Colfer told Reuters this week. "There's a resurgence of man and our willingness to make ourselves look nice."

Hugo Boss's U.S. plans include expansion of its flagship store in Manhattan's Columbus Circle, Lahrs said.   Continued...

Chief Executive of the German fashion house Hugo Boss Claus-Dietrich Lahrs speaks during the International Herald Tribune luxury goods conference "Techno Luxury" in Berlin November 17, 2009. REUTERS/Thomas Peter