How Do Men Buy Shirts?

We asked several lifestyle startups what they wished they had done differently and one of the most common answers was that founders would have liked to know more about their customers before launching.  So, we surveyed potential customers to understand what kind of shirts they buy and how they make their purchase decisions.  We hope that by sharing this data, we can help other founders or at the very least, provide an interesting read.  For more stories like this, be sure to sign-up for our mailing list below.

Demographics + Screening

Using Survata, we surveyed an sample of 400 men, aged 25 - 44 and living in urban areas.  In order to focus the insights on our target customer, we also screened for men who were neutral to extremely interested in shopping.  Our 400-member Survata sample looked like this:

We were happy to see almost 80% of respondents interested in fashion.  However, Survata was not able to share the number of people who were screened out.  So, we turned to Google Surveys to get a sense of the full distribution. In asking the same question across 427 respondents we saw a slightly different answer.

The distribution of the neutral and positive answers was different from the Survata results. However, generally it seemed that roughly 35% of men are uninterested in fashion while 65% of men were neutral or better.

Survey Results

After passing through the screening question, our 400 respondents completed our survey around purchase behavior and preference.  We first asked respondents how many shirts they purchased annually.  We were happy to see that four out of five customers purchase 3 or more shirts a year.

We also asked respondents to share the price they typically paid for a shirt to inform market size and pricing decisions.  Unsurprisingly, six out of ten respondents typically spend less than $50, indicating high volume at lower-end price points.  However, given our mission to use high-quality fabrics and trusted producers in the US, we were pleased to see a meaningful proportion of men purchasing at higher price points.  More on market sizing and the differences between high-end vs. low-end customers later.

Our next series of questions aimed at understanding customer attitudes and purchase-factors.  We first asked respondents about the sources they consulted before making a purchase decision.  Offline and online multi-brand stores were particularly important in influencing taste and preferences. Brand-owned channels (stores and websites) were also important.  Finally, magazines, social networks, forums and style blogs influenced a small number of individuals but were important in aggregate.

Next, we wanted to make sure we were accounting for people’s most important purchase considerations in our approach to the product. We asked survey respondents to rank their purchase criteria across 6 key areas.  As suspected, fit was by far most important (we're glad we went through multiple samples and benchmarked over 30 brands to get our fit right).  Quality fabric and interesting patterns came in second and third (exciting for us given our focus on unique fabrics).  While made in the USA was fifth-most important, we plan to continue producing in the US, because we strongly believe that a close relationship with a US manufacturer offers us ability to create the highest quality product.

Next, we wanted to understand the most important considerations in making an online purchase, given we will be selling direct-to-consumer as an online brand.  Here we noticed that multiple product and fit photos as well as free shipping were the two highest-ranked features. It was interesting to see that free returns weren’t nearly as important, but we’ve decided to keep free returns anyways to provide top notch customer service and a worry-free purchase process..

Our final question concerned the number of patterned and printed casual shirts customers purchased each year.  We were happy to see that 85% of the population is interested in printed and patterned shirts, and that 40% of the population actually purchased 3 or more patterned shirts each year.

Deeper Analyses

After analyzing some of the general trends we were particularly interested in learning more about specific questions that would inform our business.  We first wanted to understand the revenue potential for different slices of the market. By cross-tabbing shirts purchased annually with the typical price paid we were able to map the distribution of customers across the market and value the revenue potential of each price and frequency cell. We assumed price and volume at the middle of each range, given our survey involved ranged fields.  We saw that customers purchasing at $75 or more represent 57% of market value.


Finally, after deciding on our target customer segment, we wanted to understand whether our target customer behaved differently than other customers. In other words, did those purchasing shirts for $75 have different preferences than customers who typically paid less than $75 per shirt?  We found that those paying over $75 per shirt are more omnivorous in consuming inspiration from a variety of sources. Furthermore, they use magazines, forums, blogs, social networks far more than consumers paying less than $75 per shirt, and rely on department stores far less.

In terms of purchase criteria, the quality of the fabric and trust in the brand are much more important for $75+ purchasers.

Finally, on online criteria, free shipping and free returns became far less important, as styling and fit stood out more strongly.


We're excited to share this data with you and would love to hear your thoughts at  If you'd like to read more stories and hear about our product launches, check out our site at and follow our Instagram @weartopology.  Finally, join our mailing list below if you're interested in hearing more about our progress and want to be informed of product launches. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more stories from Topology!


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