Fast fashion brands ASOS and Topman target a new generation of stylish men

The staple websites for Saturday night style leaders are finally making a play for men who follow fashion from Monday to Friday.

ASOS and Topman have well-earned reputations as digital destinations for lads who like to make an impression at clubs and concerts on the weekend, rocking kit with the trend lifespan of a mayfly (that's 24 hours for budding entomologists).

With ASOS now 10 years old and Topman having tapped into the Australian market seven years ago, their loyal customers have grown up and are looking beyond skinny jeans and muscle T-shirts.

Expanding their base

For ASOS, which started life as 'As Seen On Screen', an extension of television shopping, before transitioning into a global player, the launch of ASOS White men's collection is a way of improving its fashion credentials.

"We know our market," says James Lawrence, menswear head of design for ASOS  on a fleeting visit to Australia, one of the company's top five countries at the checkout.

"We have the skater guy, your core guy who we call Paul and the Alpha – our Essex lad who works out and buys the muscle tops.

"White is for that slightly different customer who already knows his style… He knows what he wants, is understated and is after something premium. ASOS white is a couple of price points above our Design range and he's happy with that."


The collection is filled with boxy T-shirts, oversized hoodies and billowing basic shirts in sweet lilacs, beige, grey marl and dusty blues. Accessories tick the Balenciaga-driven boxes of Dad sneakers and cross-body bags. The result is Scandi meets Shoreditch and follows on from the launch of the women's ASOS white collection seven years ago.

Part of the timing for the launch has been the growing menswear market and merging of trend statements on the runways of Gucci, Burberry and now Celine.


"For years people have been asking when ASOS White is launching for men and the truth is that the womenswear team at ASOS is a couple of years ahead of the men's team, but we are catching up and so is the market," Lawrence says.

"We were seeing a gap in the men's market with nothing sitting below luxury. Sometimes you have to wonder why a pair of trousers is worth 1800 pounds. That's where we come in."

Fast, but slower

The growing alignment between the 40 menswear designers and 60 womenswear designers at ASOS, across segmented departments such as fashion jersey, printed jersey, leisure jersey and basic jersey, is the potential to diminish fast fashion's harmful effects on the environment.

"What is exciting with womenswear becoming more aligned with menswear is that we have more power. When we are buying together we can buy more that's sustainable at the price point our customer expects."

Lawrence goes on to point out ASOS's commitment to BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) denim, organic components of specific ranges and the use of recycled polyester in some suiting.

"Wherever we can do we are doing it," Lawrence says. "We are not perfect, but no one is really, but we are striving to be."

Along with ASOS white, the company has released a collaboration with Beyoncé-approved New York designer LaQuan Smith which will go up against Topman's attempt at stepping up the menswear fashion ladder.

Top stuff

While ASOS has gone for urban edge Topman is tipping its hat to tailoring with a second capsule collection by Charlie Casely-Howard, featuring suits suitable for peacocking in velvets and brocades along with silk shirts.

"For my second Topman collection I wanted to create a capsule that brought a youthful, vibrant element to eveningwear," Caesly-Hayford says. "Intricately designed clashing jacquards and an unstructured smoking jacket form the basis of the collection and look perfectly at home teamed with tracksuit bottoms and a pair of Reebok classics."

Topman has a long history of collaborations with Kim Jones, Stella McCartney and musician James Bay but ASOS is not ready to commit to making it a major part of its brand story.

"Over the last couple of years we've dipped in an out of this space and we are working in a big brand strategy around collaborations but it's not finalised.

"What is finalised is that we know who the customer is for ASOS Design, ASOS Edition and now ASOS White. We need to attract Generation Z and keep our loyal customers." Those muscle Tees won't be disappearing off the site any time soon.