Job market increases demand for women
By Slater Katz
Meandering down the streets of New York, one will easily stumble upon countless department stores and boutiques, decorated with flocks of women scavenging through sample sale bins to get the new Gucci booties 75 percent off. This stereotype of first-class cities catering to women’s fashion demands is no longer the hip trend. The diffident husbands, boyfriends and sons unwillingly dragged to shopping escapades are now the target consumer of many in the fashion industry. This is directly connected to the rise in both male unemployment and women’s retention of stable jobs, forcing men to take their appearance more seriously.
High fashion designers such as Christian Louboutin, Ralph Lauren and Ugg are opening men’s stores in several metropolitan areas. This newborn market will offer $2,000 shoes, among other luxurious commodities, and expects great success. The economic recession has left many men unemployed, and in order to steal a job, these men are predicted to dress the part.
The majority of men are employed in blue-collar fields that have a surplus of employees they cannot afford to keep, cutting tens of thousands of jobs. The blue-collar job field generally has a dress code of mandatory uniforms that are practical for the job, are extremely casual and are provided for them by the company. With lack of experience dressing for success in the work field and a presumably scarce wardrobe, these men are generally inexperienced shoppers with little to no understanding of the difference between an Armani sports coat to one from Sears, and are too practical to spend the time learning the difference, only focusing on the price tag.
In a study called “Men Buy, Women Shop,” conducted by researchers at Wharton’s Jay H. Baker Retail Initiative and the Verde Group, a Toronto consulting firm, it is proven that men are not naturally impulsive shoppers and shop for a practical purpose. Taking that into consideration, according to econlib.org, unemployment insurance generally pays about 55 percent of one’s normal earnings. If one’s yearly income is sliced in half, it is highly unlikely that men, especially, will prioritize a custom made suit over a daily food supply. Since women are keeping these high paying jobs and stable salaries, and attain a statistically higher level of education over men, the expansion of men’s retail seems erroneous and impractical compared to a continuous focus on the women’s retail industry.
Statistically, women of all ages attain a higher level of education and work in more stable fields than men. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in October 2012, 23.4 percent of women 23 years old had a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with 14.3 percent of young men. Due to this superior education, women held 49.83 percent of the nation’s 132 million jobs in June 2012, and are obtaining the vast majority of jobs in the few sectors of the economy that are growing, compared to the shrinking blue-collar fields that the typical under-educated male dominates. According to USA Today, “the only parts of the economy still growing — health care, education and government — have traditionally hired mostly women.”
While many unemployed men are constantly job hunting and trying to redefine their style at a practical price, many are surrendering to a domestic life. According to recent United states census data, the number of men who have became stay-at-home dads due to unemployment or wives making higher salaries has more than doubled to 176,000 in the last decade. These new homebodies have no need for a decorated wardrobe and in combination with the frugal, uneducated male shopper, make expansion in the male retail industry an assured failure. While men are trying to dress more presentably to get hired, the debt these men are financially facing has been over-looked by these high fashion brands. Opening men’s retail stores featuring a lower price point seems like a logical success due to the current situation. A men’s retail revolution does make sense in practical applications, but the high-end brands that are trying to include themselves in this phenomenon are only making themselves laughable and seem out of touch with reality. If the opulent marketing executives of Christian Dior bothered to look into statistical information and not just follow in the footsteps of their competitors, they should have obviously continued to focus on the women’s retail industry if profitability is a major concern for them.