It might still be a man's world, but women have long had the edge when it comes to fashion and beauty savvy. But that's now starting to change.
If the spate of new businesses catering to men is any indication, men are primping like never before. And it's not just marketers looking to cash in: Men's buying patterns indicate a growing interest in what they wear and how they look.
As of March 11, sales of men's apparel grew 4.9% from 2011, according to The NPD Group, the market research firm. What's more, the men's facial skincare market -- which includes facial and body skincare, shaving, hair care, and fragrance products -- grew 11% in dollar sales in 2011 from 2010.
It seems the notion of the metrosexual -- the term coined in the 1990s to describe appearance-conscious dudes -- has expanded, giving way to the new everyday "mansome" male, to borrow the title of a new documentary that takes a cheeky look at the male-grooming trend: Male pampering has moved from the margins into the mainstream.
While not all guys are stepping up their grooming efforts, "more men are," Karen Grant, vice president and senior global industry analyst for the NPD Group, tells DailyFinance. "There is a heightened awareness of dress and grooming and more attention being paid to this by men and retailers," she says.
Fashion and retail consultant Tom Julian agrees. Men from "teens to seniors have all embraced the idea of what it takes to look good from head-to-toe, hair-to-skin."
The trend can be seen in the "barber shop boom" across the country, and the addition of male services to day spas and manicure salons, Julian says.
In honor of Father's Day, here's a look at five retailers that are new -- or newly focused -- on the peacock male.
New Outlets for the 'Mansome' Male
Lookin' Good, Dad: 5 Hot Retailers That Cater to the 'Mansome' Male
Park & Bond offers a mix of upscale menswear, accessories and grooming products from brands such as Brooks Brothers, Diesel, Paul Smith, Commes Des Garcons and C.O. Bigelow that you'd find at an upscale department store.
But the site also features magazine-style articles that offer fashion guidance, such as, "How to keep your cool at the office, even in the summer heat," "Mastering the art of layering -- 10 stylish and versatile combinations to try this season," and features like Road Test, a new series in which a model and a style blogger try out new looks and document their results.
Nordstrom and men's style bible GQ inked a deal to integrate the magazine's editorial into the upscale department store's online shopping experience. Come June 19, NordstromMen.com will now approximate shopping with your stylish buddy by featuring "GQ Selects," an array of men's products handpicked from the pages of the magazine by GQ editors.
And starting with GQ's July issue, these must-have-items will also be featured on GQ.com, available for purchase on NordstromMen.com.
Specialty beauty chain Ulta is embracing guys with its newly expanded assortment of men's grooming products.
A recent visit to Ulta.com turned up men's shaving, haircare, skin care and fragrance products such as Billy Jealousy's Hydroplane Super-Slick Shave Cream for $20; for that stylish coif, Sleek Finish Texture Cream, $17, from hot men's grooming brand Jack Black; and items from Gucci's Guilty Pour Homme Eau de Toilette line from $51 to $77.
BirchBox is now testing men's products. The site, which sends paid subscribers monthly trial-sized samples of beauty products, has added men's grooming items to its mix, with brands as Kiehl's, John Varvatos and Kerastase. BirchBox is carving a new ecommerce niche by enabling shoppers to test out products from high-end brands, get expert beauty advice and earn points with every purchase. But at $20, its men's subscription is double what women pay.
Mr. Porter, a division of luxury website NET-A-PORTER, bills itself as the global online retail destination for men's style, featuring products from over 140 of the toniest international menswear designers such as Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabbana and Burberry. The site is also peppered with gifts and accessories -- from books and candles to sunglasses and watches.
Mr. Porter feels like it's geared toward super alpha males who pride themselves on being in-the-know on style and the finer things in life.
And in keeping with the trend of pairing magazine articles with commerce, the site's editorial content is updated weekly on The Journal, with options to "shop the story."
Recent features include "Six Stylish Suit Wearers," from Fred Astaire to George Clooney, a piece on "the best accessories for a winning workspace," and "Sharp Accessories For the Man at the Top."
Mr. Porter just launched a promotional campaign with Suits, USA Network's legal drama, to mark the show's second season. The site is now featuring content such as interviews with the shows' stars and Suits-inspired merchandise.