Is clothes shopping primarily a female activity?

No, men shop too but it is often overlooked
Yes, women are the main shoppers
January 2, 2021
Christy Balatsiou

Why is this an important issue?

It is a matter of major discussion since currently gender issues are being questioned and talked about more openly. For instance, shopping as an activity is clearly not genderless, as it is evident that society stereotypically believes that women are the ultimate shoppers, while men are the ‘shopping-haters’. Is this perception biased or true?

1. Women dominate consumer spending

Women are the main spenders and fashion customers in our society due to their high interest and demand in clothes. Not only are women interested in fashion relatively more than men, they are most likely going to spend a considerable amount of money on clothes too, compared to men.

Did you know…

Women spend three times more on clothes than men in the US? According to The NPD Group, in 2017 alone, women spent a whopping $159 billion on clothes for both themselves and others!

It all makes sense.

If you think about it, it is justifiable for companies to target predominantly the female segment when women themselves are more interested to spend money on clothes than men. It’s a cycle ‒ women show interest, and companies reciprocate by targeting them, which in turn entices women to shop more.

Why do women spend considerably more than men?

Women consume and spend more because they are the primary caregivers. Because of this caregiving trait, women find themselves taking care of shopping not only for themselves but also for their household, their kids, their partner, etc.

Gender roles have changed, with women taking a more masculine role in our society, and becoming more dominant when it comes to shopping too. It is clear why they are regarded as the ultimate clothing shoppers as they are seen shopping to a greater extent than men.

2. Women dominate fashion

It is unmistakably apparent that fashion and clothes for women are mostly targeted at the female population. They tend to be the main audience and customers because they are the ones who follow trends diligently and represent the face of fashion. 

For example...

A lot of magazines create stereotypical content for women, mainly focusing on how women should dress and the latest fashion trends. 

Although women's magazines nowadays are more progressive and modern, focusing considerably more on important world issues, most well-known magazines like Vogue and Elle base their identity and content on fashion. 

Why does all the attention fall on womenswear?

As mentioned by Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman, Because womenswear can be fabulous, gorgeous, weird, ridiculous, breathtaking, game-changing, enviable, exciting, desirable, wonderful. Menswear, on the other hand, can only be two things: weird or boring. And there’s only so much mileage you get from those two qualities.”

women fashion

Fashion magazines are part of the reason women dominate fashion as they influence women to fulfill the identity of the “ideal” woman – keeping up with fashion, and essentially increasing clothes consumerism. 

As the clothes market offers new fashion pieces endlessly to the female population - due to high demand - women are encouraged to shop, fueling the biased point of view of shopping as a female activity.

1. Men show interest in clothes shopping and fashion

However, men’s fashion is overlooked due to the slow changes in this sector and their slow interaction with fashion trends. 

Think about it...

Menswear has changed and evolved very slowly for the past 100 years - the suit is still a staple in a man’s wardrobe while women wear more than just a dress now. Men also follow fashion trends less diligently than women, which also explains the slow fashion growth

men fashion

Isn’t it interesting how menswear have remained similar throughout the years, in comparison to womenswear?

Even though it is evolving steadily without any extravagant style changes like womenswear, men seem very much into fashion, colours, patterns, textures and fabrics. Men’s interest towards fashion exists but it goes unnoticed due to its slow progress.

2. Men shop differently

Although men’s interaction with fashion trends and menswear fashion has been slow, recent market research of male consumers has shown their increased interest in shopping.

A study by First Insight into male shoppers found that men are shopping more than women now both online and in retail stores, information that completely invalidates the general belief of shopping as a female activity.

Men could be shopping nowadays more for many possible reasons, such as interest in fashion or as an expression of oneself and their personal style.

How can male shopping behaviour be overlooked again?

Male shopping and menswear is disregarded once more due to a different approach to shopping between the two genders. Men have a more utilitarian approach to clothes shopping while women have a hedonic approach. 

In other words, men shop for clothes they need and shop in a more practical and quick way. They often base their purchase decisions on facts and data, and leave the shop after they have achieved their goal of purchasing an item. Women’s purchasing behaviour, on the other hand, are driven by the positive emotions from the shopping experience, therefore, they spend more time in a shop. This portrays men as less engaged with shopping as compared to women.

The topic of shopping and consumer behaviour between the two genders is very broad, with arguments often interrelating with each other or literature being biased and limited. 

Clothes shopping could be considered as a female activity since women dominate fashion and are the main spenders in the clothing sector. On the contrary, men are interested in clothes shopping and fashion but this interest often goes unnoticed due to differences in shopping approach, engagement with fashion trends and men’s fashion growth. 

Do you think that, in this day and age, men are considerably more interested in shopping than in the past?

Disclaimer: We are by no means supporting one side of the argument over the other. We collate different views and expand on them to give you a better understanding of the motivation behind these views.
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