Men’s fashion has evolved over the years to incorporate more styles and fashion forward items. Other men’s-only retailers offer customers the option of designing their own custom dress shirts, providing choices of size, pattern, collar type, buttons, cuff link style, monogram options, and other features. The custom tailored concept is very popular among men, young and old, and it is now being introduced in online shopping to make it more convenient for men to custom design their shirts without even going to retailers. While the industry often focuses on women’s designers and luxury fashion houses when examining marketing and advertising initiatives, the world of men’s fashion cannot be ignored.
The Way I See It
- I see men’s fashion retailers owning the custom tailored space through sharp ads and marketing campaigns that highlight this service, with men in custom-made dress shirts with coordinating ties, sports coats, and accessories emphasizing a sharp, coordinated, classic look.
- I see more men’s fashion retailers leading the way in digital and social media for marketing, taking advantage of the popularity of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and other platforms to reach target male demographics.
- Menswear emphasizes quality and fit in marketing, and the importance of brand reputation and awareness is of utmost importance.
The Way the Industry Sees It
I sat down with Alan Behar, CEO of Ike Behar, to discuss how the menswear industry has evolved and what advertising and marketing tactics most men’s fashion retailers find best.
Let’s talk about what sorts of advertising and marketing avenues the menswear industry typically finds the most success with. How has that evolved over the years and where do you see it changing, if at all, in the next five to ten years? Does it differ in any way from marketing women’s fashion brands?
Like most of the menswear industry, Ike Behar has traditionally focused on popular print media as our main avenue, and while it has been and continues to be quite successful, our tactics have certainly had to evolve. The landscape is crowded, and for smaller niche brands it can be quite difficult to stand out, especially considering the degree to which the larger well-known brands have come to dominate these more traditional advertising venues. So to that end, we’ve taken a move towards a more collective approach to our marketing strategy. We’re using social media to help create and frame dialogue around our company. We’re targeting key markets through direct retail, using such localized tactics to service our more traditional advertising, while appealing to our customers more directly. For us, it’s all about trying to cut through the noise so we can have the chance to show our customers what a fine brand Ike Behar is.
Ike Behar’s brand is focused on custom tailored shirts and ties, the history of Ike Behar, his journey to the U.S., and the high-quality classic styles of his shirts. How do men’s fashion retailers build brand awareness and brand reputation, and how important is it to drive return customers and sales?
Well, while historically our brand has been known for our exquisite shirts and ties, we have really grown far beyond that. In recent years, we’ve brought that same reputation for quality and style to a huge array of products for both men and boys, including suits, sport coats, loungewear, and much more to complement those shirts and ties. So, our history and Ike’s journey play an important role, mostly because they show that we produce a great quality and have done so consistently for over half a century. However, we also find it important to remind our customers that we are very much a contemporary brand, and that a large part of our continued success can be attributed to the fact that our product line is diverse and constantly evolving not only to meet trends but to create them. And one of the best ways to strengthen that reputation is simply by proving it to our customers with our line, because we really believe that someone can buy any one of our products and will be satisfied enough to try all that Ike has to offer.
What data is out there for the male demographic and in what marketing channels do menswear brands target that demographic?
There is actually a tremendous amount of data out there for the male demographic, and the amount of data available is only growing and becoming even more specialized. But while this data can be very useful in determining overall trends, it can often be misleading or simply not applicable when it comes to the menswear or fashion industries in general. Fashion and style are very personal, and with so much to consider from cut, to fabric, to color, we need to be mindful that such an overabundance of information can sometimes do harm as well as good. However, that’s not to say this data isn’t extremely useful, such as in targeting publications to advertise with or regions to focus on. So, there’s a delicate balance that needs to be found.
We can’t conclude this interview without discussing social media. Ike Behar has a blog that incorporates menswear tips (like different ways to tie a tie, how to clean Ike Behar shirts, etc.) and features new designs, and also has mastered Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. How has the brand found success with digital and social media?
Social media is certainly becoming increasingly useful, first and most obviously because it provides us with yet another opportunity to reach potential customers on a much more direct and personal level. With so many people using social media today, we have an opportunity unlike ever before to really frame and engage in an on-going dialogue with our customers. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and our Ike Behar blog, all create brand awareness, as is the goal of any marketing tactic, but I think the true value of social media is elsewhere. Our blog, for example, brings potential customers to our website for style and wardrobe tips, while showing that not only do we really understand men’s fashion, but that we care about the experience you have with Ike Behar and want you to wear it as well as you can. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook provide us with the opportunity not only to tell people that we are a family-owned company with strict standards of craftsmanship, quality, and style, but to show them with real time photos and updates that exemplify who we are as a brand.
What’s the coolest thing in your office right now?
That’s the hardest question you’ve given me so far, so you’ll forgive me if I cheat a little and say our Hollywood collection. As you may know, our reputation for quality and style has helped us develop a great relationship with many in Hollywood and the music industry, as well as with many politicians. So our offices are lined with many film worn and signed shirts from some of our more well-known past customers such as George H.W. Bush, Luther Vandross, Brad Pitt, and Al Pacino. And it’s really the diversity of our brand that I think the collection speaks to; if we can make both presidents and heartthrobs look their best, without compromising their own styles, than I’d say our brand is pretty strong. But the coolest thing in my office is that we are a company with three generations now. My father Ike Behar is out in the factory keeping that old world craftsmanship alive, and my son Joshua Behar is in charge of the new world of social media.