The gender divide

GlobalData apparel analyst Pippa Stephens tells Just Style why women's clothing prices are rising faster than men's and the disastrous effect it could have on clothing sales in the coming months.

An analysis of the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) data suggests womenswear clothing prices in the UK have increased 37% over the last five years, while menswear has only gone up by a quarter (25%). The analysis, which was conducted by Sky News also points out this has far outpaced UK wages, which are said to be only 20% higher than they were in early 2017.

It reveals bras have gone up in price about as much as wages, but knickers are more expensive, costing on average 37% more than five years ago, while a t-shirt has almost doubled in price (46%) and non-branded jeans have gone up by as much as 79% since 2017.

Other notable female clothing price hikes since 2017 include:

  • Jackets - 34% more expensive

  • Blouses - 43% more expensive

  • Skirts - 54% more expensive

  • Boots - 12% more expensive

  • Tights - 34% more expensive

  • Cardigan - 55% more expensive

  • Scarf - 40% more expensive

  • Trainers - 44% more expensive

How is the gender divide affecting UK clothing prices?

GlobalData apparel analyst Pippa Stephens explains there are several factors to explain why womenswear prices are rising faster than menswear.

She says: "Firstly because women tend to have more spending power when it comes to apparel, this means they are less deterred from making purchases if items have increased in price, as well as the fact that womenswear tends to be more trend-focussed, meaning they are less likely to notice gradual increases than they would on core lines, which make up a larger proportion of menswear ranges."

Stephens also points out that women's clothing is often manufactured using fabrics or processes that are difficult to replicate cheaply, which can drive a greater rise in prices.

She predicts, however the divide between men and women's clothing prices will only get bigger given the rising rates of inflation.

"While the gradual price increases over the past few years haven't seemed to impact women's spending any more than men's, the sudden surge in inflation rates in 2022 is expected to cause more disparity."

Stephens explains a monthly UK consumer survey conducted in April 2022 by GlobalData reveals 80.5% of women plan to change their shopping habits due to high inflation rates, compared to just over half of men (58.2%).

She suggests this is likely because men have a greater focus on essentials, whereas women tend to make apparel purchases to keep up with trends and concludes this means women "can cut back more easily now that apparel prices and the cost of living has soared".