You’ll mostly find a woman on a fashion or luxury magazine cover, looking gorgeous in high-end brands, pouty and perfectly touched up. Women’s fashion weeks always outdo the men’s, both in terms of participants and observer turn-out, even in the amount of media coverage and public interest they garner. Haute couture is only created for women. Advertisements for all kinds of consumer goods – from cars to phones to perfume to fashion accessories – invariably feature the female of the species in some role, either as the user or the target of the user’s attention. Going by these appearances, you’d think that the fashion and luxury industry caters mostly to women.
But in truth, when it comes to luxury goods, and especially accessories, men drive the market, and more so every year. In India, almost 70 per cent of the fragrance market is dominated by men’s perfumes, according to Ratnamani MVK, business head of L’Oreal Luxury Products, which represents fragrances by Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren and Diesel. This skew holds true internationally as well: in Australia, men make up 65 per cent of all buyers of high-end watches, according to LVMH, the luxury giant that owns over sixty brands. The most expensive watches in any brand’s top range would be for men. (Just this year, a 1928 Patek Philippe – a men’s watch, of course – was auctioned for USD 3.81 million). Similar ratios reflect in the sales figures for sunglasses and high-end mobile phones.
In fact, men’s accessories have seen a surge despite the economic slowdown. The men’s jewellery market has doubled since 2007, according to American research company Unity Marketing, now accounting for 20 per cent of all high-end jewellery sales in that country. LVMH reported a jump of 30 per cent in sales of their sporty, masculine Hublot watches in the first half of 2011. Chinese men seem to be the most grooming-conscious of them all: men make up 45 per cent of Chinese handbag buyers, according to leather brand Coach, while French beauty giant L’Oreal sells more male grooming products in China than in all of Europe.
According to a recent KSA Tecnopak Luxury Study, the average luxury consumer in India is an urban, post-graduate, thirty-six-year-old male, who owns at least one premium or luxury saloon car, and holidays at least once a year at a foreign destination. It’s no wonder then that men make up 80 per cent of all Versace customers in India, and super-premium lifestyle store The Collective – which houses D&G, Hugo Boss, Gucci and 7 For All Mankind – counts men as 85 per cent of its clientele.
Come to think of it, considering that men are the bigger bidders for luxury in India, it does make sense to put a gorgeous woman model on the cover – pouty and perfectly touched up.