FOR MOST men, it is a chore far more than a pleasure when it comes to trawling the High Street to make new additions to their wardrobes.
But the Yorkshire-based womenswear retailer, Bonmarche, believes it could help solve the shopping conundrum for the middle-aged man.
The firm, which specialises in outfits for women over 50 and has its headquarters in Wakefield, has launched of a menswear range designed to appeal specifically to wives and girlfriends shopping for their partners.
Bonmarche claimed among the over-50s, 80 per cent of men’s clothing is bought by the women in their lives. The new range, which is being trialled in 50 stores, includes jumpers, polo shirts, fleeces, pyjamas, scarves, underwear and, of course, slippers.
The concept was drawn up after Bonmarche talked to customers and noted how many complained about certain items of their husband’s wardrobes and how reluctant their men were to shop for new clothes.
“Men don’t like shopping,” said Bonmarche’s chief executive Beth Butterwick. “Yet when we asked them about clothes we found that men love to talk about their favourite clothing - where they like the pockets, where they don’t like zips. A lot of men come shopping with their wives. We hope that when they come in they’ll buy their own clothing.”
At the moment there are no trousers in the collection, but the plan is to trial them next year. There are 50 different products in total, with 40 that can be bought online.
Retail analyst Freddie George, at Cantor Fitzgerald, said: “In a surprise and unexpected move, Bonmarche is launching a menswear range including T-shirts, knitwear, nightwear and accessories. It looks as if it will be geared to women who may buy for their husbands. The range from the website looks more than satisfactory and is very competitively priced, in our view.”
Analysts believe that Bonmarche is well-placed to attract the “silver pound” as more people retire with money in the bank.
“It is, in our view, the only retailer that is dedicated to the over-50s women market, has a prominent presence on the high street and has an established multi-channel network,” said Mr George.
Is is not the first time Bonmarche has branched out into new areas. The group tested concessions in three garden centres last year and plans to open 15 to 20 more over the next year.
Ms Butterwick said that gardening is the fourth most popular activity among its customers and shoppers at these concessions tend to be “slightly more affluent”. The expansion into new areas follows research gleaned from focus groups about what shoppers would most like to see in Bonmarche.
“The menswear range is a continuation of giving the customer what she wants,” said Ms Butterwick. “We obsess about our customer and we talk to them through customer groups.”
According to research by online retailer isme.com, men stop caring about their appearance at the age of 37 when they start dressing like Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson. Their wives and girlfriends would prefer them to dress like Hollywood actor George Clooney or British actor Hugh Grant.
Two thirds of women have stopped their partners from buying certain items of clothing and a quarter thought that it they were left to their own devices, men would avoid clothes shopping altogether. Women said that 24 per cent of men would buy the cheapest clothes, regardless of their fit or what they looked like, and 26 per cent would only buy new clothes when theirs had worn through.