For men of a certain age, the concept of taking an active interest in fashion may seem somewhat alien. Shopping for clothes would be seen as a necessity, rather than a passion, but the statistics show that men are fast catching up with women in the fashion stakes, and indeed (if the trend continues), could soon overtake women as the biggest spending gender on the high street.

A 2014 UK wide study, commissioned by the Westfield Group (the world’s largest shopping centre operator) makes for interesting reading.

As well as gathering statistics on the size of the industry, the study included a survey, which questioned 3,673 men and 4,082 women aged between 18 and 49.

Here are the key takeaways:

Men’s Fashion Is Booming

The study valued the UK men’s fashion industry at £13bn a year, working out at an incredible £998 for every male in the UK.

This is backed up by information from Statista, which shows the total retail spend on menswear in the UK growing steadily from £9.34bn in 2008 to £10.64bn in 2013.

According to the study, this spend of £998 per man, is just £99 less than women, who in the same period spent around £1,087 each per year.

This gap is even smaller for the 18-34 age group, with a difference in spending between men and women on fashion in this demographic of just 1%.

Most Men Say They Enjoy Shopping

Contrary to popular belief, that shopping is somewhat of a chore to be endured for men, the vast majority of the men surveyed said that they enjoyed shopping.

In fact, around 70% said they enjoy the high street experience, which is the same number who said that they enjoy watching sport, and just 7% less than those who said they enjoy a visit to their local pub.

One difference between men and women that was raised by the survey is that men are not so keen on browsing as women; preferring to have a strong idea about what they are looking for, get into the shop, locate it, and complete the purchase as quickly as possible.

Indeed, 59% of those surveyed said that they would decide on a purchase within the first few minutes of entering a store.

Men Are More Attracted To Designer Labels Than Women

Surprisingly, men were also found to be more label concious than women, with 41% (compared to 34% of women) saying that they would rather purchase a small amount of designer clothes, than larger quantities of cheaper, non brand labels.

In terms of the actual brands, Nike topped the popularity list for men, with Adidas, Next and M&S also proving popular. Indeed, Marks & Spencer currently has the biggest market share of men’s clothing sales in the UK.

The majority of those surveyed stated that they would rather save up for an expensive, genuine designer item, than purchase a fake – bad news for holiday market traders, but good new for the high street!

It’s Not Online Shopping That’s Driving This Boom

It may seem logical to assume that the explosive growth of online shopping is behind the increase in spending on men’s fashion, but half of the men surveyed said they preferred shopping on the high street to purchasing online.

That being said, around three quarters of those surveyed admitted that they would browse online first to check prices, availability, and store opening times before venturing to the shops to physically make their purchase.

Of course, with the increased use of smart phones for internet browsing, and apps which give users the ability to compare prices in a locale, this percentage is only likely to increase.

But Technology May Be Driving The Trend Nonetheless

While the spend may not actually be online, one prevalent theory behind the rapid growth of men’s fashion, is the modern dot-com workplace having a more relaxed ‘unbuttoned vibe’ when it comes to work-wear.

Whereas in the past, all a man would need for his work week wardrobe was 2 or 3 shirts and ties, which didn’t allow for much individuality, nowadays, with many offices and workplaces allowing more casual dress, men may be increasingly feeling the need to spruce up their wardrobe to ‘keep up with Joneses’.

Of course, aside from the workplace, men are not immune from the modern day celeb obsessed culture, and if a popular male movie star rocks a certain outfit, you can be sure that sales of that style/look will quickly increase.

So Will Men’s Fashion Overtake Women’s Fashion?

Well, while nothing is certain, the trend is certainly heading that way.

For the modern man, a couple of pairs of jeans and a handful of t-shirts no longer cuts the mustard, and you can be sure that over the next few years brands will be doing all they can to ensure they secure a slice of the lucrative male fashion pie – with more and more ads and campaigns directly targeting men.

This should only serve to accelerate the trend.

So, in the future will it be the man dragging the woman round the shops on a Saturday afternoon instead of the other way round? Time will tell.

Jordan is the owner of Mr Style – collating the best in men’s fashion for the modern gentleman.