It took place in the walls of Paper, an arty design space, new communal workspace and social club, recently launched on 622 Huaihai Road, in the heart of Shanghai, that was held on April 14th: a talk organized by the fashion school IFA Paris about the last trends in metrosexuality - a term that refers to the desire of men to devote themselves passionately to their look!

A metrosexual is, first of all, a «chameleon man» – referring to the Mixed-up Chameleon of Eric Carle’s beautiful children’s book. A human with changing tastes, in love with himself, paying attention to his image, with a regard to his clothes, his body and his skin, enjoying shopping and fashion. He is sometimes a virile man - David Beckham or Eddie Peng are the archetype of this phenomenon - or effeminate, like those flower boys”, young Korean, Chinese or Japanese actors or pop singers. In fact, a new gender expression and gender socialization in progress. 

The discussion tried to analyse the emancipation, among French and Chinese men, in their use of cosmetics and beauty products for men. It has been noticed that male beauty products do not date from yesterday. In ancient Greece, recalled Albane Salzberg of the European Union Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China, and in the following centuries in Europe and Asia, kings, emperors, lords and aristocrats were smearing their face with powder andFrom left to right: Joanne Tsai (Dior), Rekky Liu (10 Corso Como), Jason Mei (Sephora) and Charlotte Kreis (BYB) red lipsticks. The make-up affirmed the status and the white skin purified oneself. Another era, another fashion: from his native England, David Bowie alone propelled, at the end of the seventies, the androgynous genre: the face of a man completely covered with make-up, as an art. Boy George, Serge Gainsbourg, Michael Jackson, Johnny Depp, became icons and powdered their faces too. Time changes. Facebook now recognizes, in its registration forms, 60 different genders!

At a time when the gender identity is questioned by public, families and by the entertainment industry, brands have amplified the phenomenon. L’Oréal was one of the first to test and launch the first cosmetics for men on the market more than ten years agosaid Mark Liu, director of development at Alfred Dunhill. It’s now a phenomenon of society, growing in Japan, South Korea or Hong Kong, more largely in Asia, where men may appear naturally more effeminate said Tracy Huang, founder of Enstylement (enstylement.com).

At the same time, here and there, the couple is shattered, the divorce rate is exploding and homosexuality is no longer taboo. Men and women choose their lives, their fashion and their respective cleansing formulas. In sometimes a very common approach, with male cosmetics having a broader competitive base than previously thought, noted Rekky Liu, Marketing Director China at 10 Corso Como. “We have a mens corner in our shops but it is not the first destination of men in our store; they are going to look for any type of articles, and it happens that male consumers also supply themselves in the women’s corners” confirmed Jason Mei, director of HR and development of Sephora Shanghai. “The fact is that metrosexuality is no longer a gender issue! It goes far beyond merely commercial attraction” said Joanne Tsai, Marketing Director at Christian Dior.

Moisturizers, anti-aging, gels, skin care... 50% of men today use one of these products and for them, the brand is the key (75% consideration). The “grooming” market has exploded. It is a growing market of several billion euros. 73% of active men, all compulsive buyers, think that looking good is the result of success at work. Result: they use more than 2 facial products per day. According to Allied Market Research, the global market for men’s cosmetics could reach $166B by 2022. The active Japanese giant Shiseido has even launched Shiseido Men, a luxury cosmetics line for Men... that also seduce many women - 50% of male cosmetics are still being bought by women - attracted by its rare moisturizing powers!

For a deeper understanding of this topic, we offer the MBA Perfume and Cosmetics Management which also touches on metrosexuality in regards to cosmetics.