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Trendy spending: Luxury, London's First Male Fashion Week, and Men

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Today marks the start of London's first dedicated fashion week for men. From suits to bags, and shoes to watches, male models will highlight the best of British design for men.

Data released today by American Express Business Insights, the consulting arm of American Express, reveals that Gen Y men (those born after 1982) are increasing their spending on luxury fashion faster than all other generations. This increase was almost twice as fast as the next fastest generation (Baby Boomers, born between 1945 and 1964). In London, Gen Y's year-on-year growth on fashion spending was 4%, whilst Boomers increased their spending by 1.8%.

Clearly, men are staking their place in London's fashion spending arena. It's no wonder the city is hosting its first men's fashion week.

London's male fashion shoppers have also taken a 'famine or feast' approach to their spending: overall, men spend less often on fashion than women. But when they do spend, men are spending 6% more than women each time they shop.

In luxury fashion, this trend is particularly striking, with men spending a significant 24% more per transaction than women. The trend holds true in other fashion capitals: in Paris and New York, men spend 30% and 17% more per luxury fashion transaction than women, respectively.

Men are also prioritising their spend on luxury over mainstream fashion, in direct contrast to women's habits. According to our data (which is actual, aggregated spending data from across the American Express network of cards) men in London modestly grew their spend on luxury fashion in 2011, whilst cutting back their spending on mainstream fashion. Men's year-on-year spending on luxury fashion grew slightly by 1 percent, while their spending on mainstream decreased by 1.2%. However, women cut back their spending on luxury fashion by 0.7%, but increased on mainstream by 5.2%.

It's particularly interesting to note that it's younger men who are really embracing luxury fashion over older generations. Although they currently make up as small segment of the overall spend, Gen Y presents an interesting opportunity for the luxury fashion designers and houses, both in London and across the world. Last year, Gen Y men in London increased their spending on luxury fashion twice as fast as they did on mainstream fashion. Year-on-year spending on luxury fashion increased by 5.7 percent, and on mainstream fashion by 2.6%. Gen Y spending on luxury also grew strongly in both New York and Paris.

As models hit the runways in London this week, one thing's clear: fashion - and luxury fashion in particular - is increasingly important to men. Men's increasing interest in, and support of, the luxury fashion industry should be welcomed by fashion retailers. Hopefully this inaugural menswear week will give a boost to London's fashion industry and its supporters.