INSIGHT | Why Is So Hard to Understand Chinese Male Consumers?

October 20,2019

Chinese men's fashion footprint is more visible than ever due to the transformation of fashion communication and shopping media. According to public data, the number of first stores of brands launched in Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu that focused on men as the main target customers increased greatly in the first half of 2019. Besides the traditional formal male apparel, there are now more and more leisure and sports brands that are specifically designed for male consumers.

An Explosion in Male Fashion Consumption

In an interview and survey conducted by Luxe.CO, some post-90s male consumers said "I love to spend money on fashion. In fact, I spend most of my money on fashion. I mainly buy shoes; many boys like to spend money on shoes. I don't buy a lot of bags, but I buy a lot of caps. I wear a cap every day.” (1992)

"I mainly buy clothes and shoes, but also Japanese silver jewelry, headphones and handmade glasses. Sometimes I buy toys or something like GUNPLA (Gundam Plastic Models) on impulse. Half of my cost of living is invested in fashion." (1997)

According to the report entitled  "Insight into the New Generation of Male Fashion Consumption in China" released by Luxe.Co earlier this year, 32.8% of the new generation of male consumers said they cared a lot about what others think of their apparel. In terms of the amount spent on consuming fashion items, 3.5% of male consumers spent more than 50,000 RMB in the past year, 4.1% spent 30,000-50,000 RMB, 11.3% spent 10,000-30,000 RMB, and 16% spent 50,000-10,000 RMB. The average level of spending is higher than that of female consumers. Male consumers born in the 1980s, 1990s, and even the 2000s attach great importance to their appearance and taste in fashion. More overseas high-end/niche menswear brands were seen in China in the first half of 2019, as well as more elevated local menswear labels.

High-end/Niche Menswear Brands

With the expansion of menswear in the global fashion industry, more and more men's fashion brands from overseas are entering China, with some even opening their first store there. In the men's fashion section, traditional sportswear brands have already developed into quite mature businesses in the Chinese market. Newly-entered brands can be roughly divided into four categories: Luxury brands, Street brands, Niche labels and Accessories brands.

Luxury Brands

The French luxury brand, Louis Vuitton, has opened independent pop-up stores in Columbia Circle in Shanghai and SKP in Beijing to promote a new collection by Virgil Abloh, the Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton's menswear collection. Celine, which traditionally specializes in womenswear, has opened China's first menswear boutique in Plaza 66 in Shanghai.

Street Brands

Starter Black Label, a standalone line of the American popular street brand, Starter, opened its first store in China in Joy City Mall in Beijing. The original sneaker brand, Undefeated, launched its first China store in Taikoo Li Sanlitun in Beijing. Recently, the American high-end sneaker + streetwear brand, Solestage, also opened its first store in China in Taikoo Li Sanlitun in Beijing.

Niche Labels

Manuel Ritz, the French haute couture menswear brand, opened its first store in K11, Shanghai, and the New York-based men's and women's contemporary fashion label, Theory, opened its first independent menswear store in Galeries Lafayette in Shanghai. The Swedish fashion brand, COS, opened its first global menswear store in Taikoo Li Sanlitun in Beijing, and SuitSupply, the Dutch menswear brand, opened its first store in the southwest area of China in Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu. Meanwhile, many of China’s multi-brand retailers, such as Magmode, have begun to offer more niche designer labels from overseas.

Accessories Brands

Shopping malls now contain more and more accessories brands for male customers, such as the silver jewelry brands, Rock&Ride, Chrome Hearts, King Baby, and the headwear brand, New Era, as well as the American sock, underwear and T-Shirt brand, Stance.

Last year, the GM of Parkview Green in Beijing, Oliver Lai, told Luxe.Co that more male consumer brands and technology brands would be added, "Hoping to increase the proportion of male consumers to another 10%." A number of new male consumer brands have been opened in Parkview Green, including the multi-brand retailer Corazza, Andrew Mackenzie, C'N'C Costume National, Arcteryx, and Brompton.

The "Invisible" Shopping Motivation for Men

What motivates men to shop? Interviews with several male consumers may provide the answer:

"I've just went to the Joy City Mall in Xi 'an, and it's got all the brands like Xiaomi, Apple, Huawei and multi-brand electric appliance stores, Nike, Adidas and other sports brands, and the Marvel exhibition downstairs." - 1993

A new LEGO store has opened in Wangfujing, I usually like to go to this kind of toy store.” – 1997

I like to go to Wukesong Arena to check out some sports brands, mainly because I can also play basketball there.” - 1997

In contrast to female consumers, digital 3C, automobiles, entertainment experience and sports brands are the main reasons why many male consumers visit the mall. Experiential consumption has become the standard way to attract customers to shopping centers in the past few years. Shopping malls may be wondering how to satisfy male consumers’ non-fashion needs compared with traditional F&B, karaoke, and movies.

According to the report entitled "Insight into the New Generation of Male Fashion Consumption in China" released by Luxe.Co, male consumers have high expectations and requirements of the store experience: customization (48%), styling service (36.9%) and intelligent technology experience (34.6%) are all services they hope to experience in offline stores. Many new kinds of enterprises are of interest to male consumers, and each of them gives men another reason to “go shopping”.

Leisure and Entertainment

In August last year, the Gundam Base Shanghai, the first flagship shop based on Gunpla (Gundam Plastic Model) was opened in the Super Brand Mall in Shanghai, and in February 2019, the largest LEGO flagship store in China was opened in Wangfujing IN88 Mall in Beijing.  Ringside Boxing & Beyond, a high-end sports and social club, opened two stores simultaneously in Shanghai and Hong Kong in March 2019, and Cigar Aficionado, which mainly sells cigars and cigar accessories, opened a store in the China World Mall in Beijing.


In March 2019, Mirage, the exclusive Asian sports collection store, entered Beijing Fun, and China's first NBA flagship store opened in Wangfujing IN88 Mall in Beijing in April 2019. The first Manchester United F.C. experience center in China started a trial operation in Beijing Fun in June 2019.


In March 2019, Xiaopeng Motors opened its first experience center in Shanghai, and Parkview Green Beijing added the world's first Saleen supercar experience center to the existing Tesla experience center in April 2019. Lixiang Automotive launched retail centers in five cities, including Wukesong Arena in Beijing, Shanghai Century Link Mall in May 2019, and in the same month, Mercedes opened its first crossover experience store, Mercedes Me, in the South-east of China in Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li Chengdu.


Although men’s fashion needs are now more and more explicit, most brands have not succeeded in effectively communicating and interacting with male consumers on digital platforms; in contrast, bricks-and-mortar channels that provide brands with the opportunity to directly interact with male consumers are invaluable. Nevertheless, businesses need to continue to have conversations via all forms of user engagement to break the stereotype of the "male consumer group”, and truly understand their fashion consumer psychology. Every business and men’s fashion brand is now focused on learning how to "Break the circle" from technology, cars, entertainment brands.


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