Men are putting more thought into how they dress, and women are taking notice.

Some designers who have catered exclusively to females are jumping into the menswear business, seeking to bring what they believe are new design sensibilities to an expanding and increasingly fashion-conscious men’s market.

Among the latest local companies to make the move is downtown L.A.’s Clover Canyon, which debuted its men’s collection last month and is launching a men’s footwear line this week as part of New York’s Fashion Week.

Rozae Nichols, Clover Canyon’s co-founder and creative director, has been a women’s designer for 25 years and said more men are paying attention to art and design through the Internet and social media platforms, and that’s helping drive men’s interest in fashion.

“I think men are more open to exploring color and print in these recent years,” she said. “We live in such a saturated-image world. People are more exposed to art and design than ever before. … And I think that’s part of the male gaze, too.”

Designers such as Nichols are entering a ripe market as sales of men’s accessories, footwear and apparel have been climbing the last couple of years.

U.S. men’s apparel sales were up 5.2 percent last year to $60.8 billion, according to a report from New York research firm NPD Group Inc. Men’s accessories also jumped up 9 percent to $13.6 billion last year.

“This increase in accessories also correlates with the growth we are seeing in men’s apparel and footwear,” said Marshal Cohen, NPD Group’s chief industry analyst. “Overall, men are becoming more interested in fashion, and retailers are building upon this trend by catering to them specifically.”

Taking note

Clover Canyon’s decision to expand its product line comes at a time when retailers are indeed taking notice. Seattle’s Nordstrom Inc. acquired Trunk Club, a Chicago-based menswear subscription service, for $350 million last month.

On the design side, women’s label Tory Burch of New York reportedly will launch a men’s line next year and Coach Inc. of New York, which announced the expansion of its men’s footwear collection last month, might also branch into men’s apparel next year. Michael Kors will carve out a space for menswear at a new flagship store in New York next year and plans to introduce a men’s fragrance.

Locally, both Clare Vivier of Silver Lake and Michael Stars Inc. of Hawthorne entered the men’s market this year.


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