Australian womenswear brands are adjusting their trousers to make room for men.
Male models with Brooke Shields’ eyebrows and a Kate Moss attitude infiltrated the runway at Albus Lumen, Anna Quan and Blanca during Australian Fashion Week this month, wearing crochet shirts, sleeveless jackets and billowing pants, as female designers tap into the growing men’s luxury market.
Last year the global menswear business was estimated to be worth $US575 billion ($867 billion) and it is predicted to reach $1495 billion by 2032, according to Market Research Future.
“The market is full of fashion brands,” says Albus Lumen designer Marina Afonina. “Menswear is another way to express who you are and to differentiate yourself from the competition. You are bringing more people further into your world.”
A neutral palette of white, cream and black basics in linen, merino wool, silks and crochet was Afonina’s vision for what Australian men should be wearing.
“This is him in my dreams,” she says. “Men are slowly becoming more educated about fashion and have moved on from wearing jeans and a $20 T-shirt that looks bad after one wash. In Australia, we are getting closer to the European approach of purchasing a few cool investment pieces, like men in Milan and Paris, rather than lots of rubbish.”
Getting men into womenswear brands remains challenging, even for bigger players. British designer Stella McCartney launched a menswear range to great acclaim in 2016 but was forced to close it in 2020. Even high street store Witchery made repeated stabs at crossing the gender divide before shuttering their men’s label in 2017.
While committed to Albus Lumen menswear, which has been steadily expanding since her Resort 2019 collection, Afonina is flirting cautiously with growth. The menswear is stocked exclusively by British luxury e-tailer MatchesFashion, with Australian customers able to make custom orders through the brand’s website.