Does Style Matter?

By Ryan Alphonso

A recent MarketLine study suggests the market for men’s clothing will rise by $402 billion in 2014, continuing the 14 percent expansion in recent years.

To account for the increase, retailers are utilizing heavy marketing and strong PR campaigns to maintain customer loyalty. But with this increasing competition, companies overlook an important question: How much do men really care about clothing and style?

Sophomore Jose Cabrera does care. “Style is how individuals express themselves,” he said. According to him, more men should care about style and their appearance; it gives a person character and personality. Cabrera saw the expanding of the style industry as a good thing.

The same MarketLine study reported American men make up a wide margin of the global men’s apparel market, dominating other regions with a 35 percent contribution.

Another study the Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted in 2010 revealed even though American men spend just less than half as much on apparel annually as women, the amount has still been steadily increasing since the ‘90s. This number is expected to continue to rise.

Nonetheless, Junior Dante Leoni doesn’t see style as the most pressing men’s issue: “It’s not everything, but having style is important.” He thinks it still should be taken into consideration, but not as the forefront of every man’s mind. “It defines who you are; you dress like who you want to be,” he said.

Leoni finds it best to be mindful and prideful in how you present yourself instead of worrying about making sure everything “matches and color coordinates.”

It’s men like this that Christian Luik, owner of the small retail business College Park Clothing, target. Luik began College Park Clothing five years ago when he was studying at UMD with the goal in mind to sell stylish but functional recreational clothes to young men. “It’s not hard to look good. It doesn’t take much, but a lot of people don’t see that,” he said.

Luik believes that young men should know how to dress. He said those who already care about dressing well are the perfect demographic to target because they represent his brands and help spread his goal. “Every guy has a ‘stylish friend.’ And it’s those friends that’ll help reach everyone else,” said Luik.

The MarketLine studies predict the men’s clothing markets to continue to rise in the coming years. “Now maybe more guys will be a little more open to thinking about what they wear,” Cabrera said, “That would be great to see.”

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