Breaking away from tired stereotypes, brands and retailers are embracing a new masculinity built around self-care, family and a softer, more emotionally engaged approach. This trend, dubbed #SoftMasculinity, tells a new story, breaking free from old conventions and encouraging a more fluid and expressive approach across industries.
In response, brands across all categories are looking to move past outdated ‘macho cliches’ and respond to a modern masculinity that is inclusive. This is opening up opportunities for brands to reach men in categories previously 'out of bounds', including beauty, wellness and fashion. Male grooming is booming, with men branching out from entry-level products, such as cleanser and beard care, to concealer, nail varnish and ‘feelgood’ beauty items. On the catwalks, a new era of menswear is emerging, responding to the need for comfort and gender-inclusivity.
We explore what the data says about the impact of this macro trend on the worlds of fashion and beauty, from the catwalk to self-care at home.
Get ready to accessorise
With 247 tags on the WGSN Fashion Feed, the #RedefiningMasculinity trend has dominated the A/W 24 men’s catwalks. The Soft Masculinity trend is sparking a surge in lightweight accessories, headwear and bags, redefining traditional aesthetics.
Our footwear and accessories team have called out these beanies from Amiri's A/W 24 collection (left). Over-the-top embellishments continue to be key for these categories and provide a great update for core items.
Spotted at Louis Vuitton's A/W 24 catwalk collection in Paris, cowboy boots (middle) will be important for this trend. The Americana-themed motifs and colourful details make these boots unique.
Driven by the youth market and transseasonal appeal, WGSN 2023 Colour of the Year Digital Lavender continues to have relevance into the A/W 24/25 collections. Isabel Marant's menswear imprint presented the shade across core pieces including the t-shirts, cable knits and the trending trucker jacket (right). Note how the purple haze shade creates a tonal finish.
Another noticeable impact is the printed neckerchief (below), experiencing a YoY increase* of 7ppt in the UK and 11ppt in the US. Printed silk scarves were also up 0.2ppt, influenced by their presence on the S/S 23 catwalks and on stars such as ASAP Rocky, Brandon ‘Jinx’ Jenkins and Harry Styles.
We're also seeing trends crossover from men to women. Straw and wicker basket bags, previously unseen in men’s accessories, now figure across gender assortments, with a 1ppt yearly increase in both men's and women's. Google searches for "men's raffia bag" rose by 30% and “men's basket bags” increased by 33%, a rise likely to have been influenced by styles in Loewe’s women's collection.
Accessories such as Alice bands and headbands look set to be making their way into men's wardrobes, with a 25ppt rise in these items on offer in the US and a 10.5ppt increase in the UK across menswear retailers indicating brands are confident to back key elements of Soft Masculinity.
While mass-market retailers are relatively cautious in their approach to these shifts, across accessories as a whole, the landscape is changing, with the US music festival Coachella and recent catwalks signalling the opportunity for more variety. Designers could focus on bolder, playful prints and gender-inclusive shades, such as Sweet Mandarin, to refresh and test new options.
Bro bodycare: bathscaping for men
Men's bath and bodycare routines will start to encompass self-care and relaxation, reflecting evolving narratives surrounding new masculinity.
Men are slowing down their bathroom routines to take care of themselves, boosting confidence and wellbeing. In times of turbulence, bath and body routines will be crucial in daily self-care. Consumers will be choosing products and collections that have empathy and purpose, and support physical and mental wellbeing.
Functional rituals that help men unwind and connect with themselves while also improving skin health will appeal. According to a survey by The Benchmarking Company, 44% of US men buy more bodycare products than five years ago and 77% bought a bodycare product in the last six months.
To facilitate these rituals, brands should prioritise skin-loving soaps, shower gels, body lotions and body oils that don't strip the skin and contain harmful chemicals, as seen with UK-based Baz & Co.
Bathscaping kits with bath salts, body brushes, clothes and candles will resonate. The functionality will be key, gearing these kits towards specific outcomes, such as sleep, muscle recovery and relaxation.
Brands should appeal to the male 'Lazy' Skinimalist with multifunctional products that save time, such as Atwater's (US) body scrub and cleansing bar that moisturises and deodorises the skin.
What’s next in Soft Masculinity?
Shifting gears to men’s apparel, we’re seeing significant interest in men’s jumpsuits/boilersuits (below).
WGSN Catwalk image library / Emporio Armani, S.S.Daley, DSquared2
In the UK, jumpsuits now account for 31% of the category mix, which includes jumpsuits, dungarees and boilersuits. Experiencing a YoY increase of 2.9ppt. Out-of-stock percentages have also risen by 2.3ppt YoY, currently standing at 10.7%. In the US, jumpsuits constitute 13% of the category mix, showing a YoY growth of 3ppt.
In terms of beauty predictions, men’s beauty advent calendars could be the next beauty trend for Christmas 2024.
Recent Google trends show a notable surge in search interest for “men's beauty” and “men's skincare”, with a substantial increase of 37ppt in beauty searches and a 61ppt surge in skincare searches over the last 12 months. Interestingly, “men's beauty advent calendar” has emerged as a top-related search on both Google and Amazon. This trend aligns with the conversation surrounding women's beauty advent calendars over the past two years.
WGSN data helps to anticipate trends ahead of the curve. Speak to our team to get more predictive analytic insights. Request a WGSN demo today.
*WGSN e-commerce data was collected from across retailers in the UK and US for Accessories from April - May 2023/2022 and Apparel November - December 2023/2022.