Growth in menswear is not just confined to Asia.
The Middle East and African apparel market was the second fastest growing region globally in 2012, following Latin America, and menswear is an important staple of that growth.
Both mass market and luxury fashion brands alike are considering the region as an important source of growth, in the next few years, according to Euromonitor International.
In the Middle East, ongoing population growth coupled with a strong economic framework is expected to boost menswear sales. The region’s importance as a travel destination and shopping paradise also helps to attract multinational brands into the market.
Luxury apparel in particular has benefited from the strong increase in tourist arrivals from emerging markets such as Russia and China. For example, the number of Chinese tourists has more than doubled since 2009, reaching more than 300,000 in 2012.
Like Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi and Dubai remain of strategic importance for international brands looking to make their mark globally.
Ermenegildo Zegna, the Italian label that celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010, has continued to open stores throughout the region, two in Abu Dhabi since 2012, even as it has looked to new emerging markets. There are now 543 Zegna stores in more than 100 countries in the world and group revenues reached €1.2 billion (Dh5.95bn) last year.
Zegna opened its first African store – in Lagos, Nigeria – last year and the company is considering opening outlets in Angola and Mozambique in 2014. It opened 30 stores in 2013, a rate of growth that is set to continue this year.
More than 90 per cent of Zegna’s sales are from exports, and nearly half of group revenues derive from emerging markets. Sales in Greater China, the US, Russia and the Middle East were strong in 2013, according to the company. Revenues fell in Spain, Japan and Korea.
Results in Europe were positive overall, with sales in Italy, France and the UK buoyed by tourists.
Another Italian company that has its eye on expansion is Billionaire Italian Couture, the fashion label set up by the Italian tycoon Flavio Briatore.
The retailer, which sells suits that start from almost £2,000 (Dh11,964) and fine leather boots for £800, now has 27 outlets around the world, including two boutiques in Dubai and one in Doha.
Mario Chiarenza, creative director of the brand which combines Italian decadence with British traditional tailoring, says that the growing global interest in menswear is very much reflected in the Middle East.
“Our Middle Eastern clientele have an increasing appreciation of fashion, for accessories in particular. They explore what is on the market both at home and when they travel abroad.”
“They are incredibly discerning and they are after a very specific product. They don’t tend to want formalwear, rather a more laid-back sport look which is not only of the highest quality but also creative, colourful and different.”
Mr Chiaranza says that the Middle Eastern customer is so important that he has even introduced specific items and products – particularly in their accessories range.
The company will be opening its fourth store in the region, in Jeddah, in July. “Dubai is one of our most successful locations so there are absolutely plans to continue expanding in the region,” Mr Chiarenza says.
And it’s not just clothes, suits and bags that men are craving. Jewellery, for so long shunned by many men, is something the most fashionable man is buying.
The functional cufflink – perhaps the only piece of jewellery, besides a wedding ring, that many men will own – is right on trend, according to the award-winning British jewellery designer, Babette Wasserman. But men are also buying tie bars and lapel pins.
Ms Wasserman, who trained at Central St Martin School of Art and Design in London, also designs a large range of men’s bracelets, using semi-precious stones, sterling silver and leather, which are selling well.
The Wasserman jewellery range – which has been seen adorning the likes of David Beckham, Rufus Wainwright and Antonio Banderas – is now available from the first Babette Wasserman pop-up store in Dubai.
The pop-up store opened at the start of the year and will be open through to March 31 in Emirates Towers.