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Whither The Etsy Male?

Googling “Etsy for men” comes back with the following:

  • Round-ups of Mad Men inspired vintage
  • Cristina Hendricks posing with a scarf
  • Defunct blogs that attempted to highlight male produced products and even occasionally products directed at men (some not defunct)
  • Tons of gift guides directed towards women trying to get their boyfriends to smell better

I can’t pretend to speak for all men here, but whither the guy on Etsy? The site is not completely devoid of products for dudes but in order to find these things you have to wade through mounds and mounds of stuff for girls and/or outright crap.

Why is Etsy kind of a wasteland for men? We can break it down into a single sentence:

The site design is from the ground up reminiscent of a paper shop or apparel boutique …

Personally, I don’t buy my clothes or writing supplies at shops or boutiques. When I want fancier versions of either, I go to fancy places that are still called stores. The difference is slight but telling: boutiques usually do not have sections and are generally designed for casual browsing. Which is fine, except for when I need a specific need filled and am tearing my hair out trying to fill it.

… in which men’s products (or anything that isn’t cute) are afterthoughts …

I want a wool scarf. Browsing for scarves in the “Men’s” section, I find that most are modeled by women and described as unisex but in fact are anything but save for the most fabulous or petite of men.

The emphasis on Etsy is on browsing a curated selection rather than need-fulfillment. There is something to be said for the difference between how men and women shop, but to be honest most REAL stores tailor their output to acknowledge that men tend to browse less than women. In other words: very little of this is curated with men in mind, although notably they are trying harder than they used to.

Some sellers sidestep the slog by showcasing their wares elsewhere and just using Etsy as a payment processor, like a slightly hipper eBay. Example: DotKlok*, which likely gets very little tread on the site but has exposure through many DIY tech blogs and its own website. The reason for this split between curated and non-curated items is simple …

… because the main purchasers on Etsy are not all that different from the main sellers on Etsy.

Slate ran a good article a while back on how Etsy sells a dream of feminine self fulfillment more than it sells scarves. I’m not sure I’d go that far but can simplify what I see thusly: this website is selling crafty things to people who wish they were crafty. Sometimes the sellers themselves are not that crafty (see again Regretsy) and sometimes the buyers are crafty but short on time.

So basically if you want to buy cute things that you lack the time to make for yourself but yet still have the time to pore over listings, awesome. If you’re a guy trying to find something, you may find it on Etsy but not because they wanted you to. Which is fine – a close friend on the west coast is knitting me a scarf. It’ll be done just in time for Spring.

*Please do not take this example as my saying anything about girls and electronics – I chose that example as I was trying to find something truly unisex as opposed to just posing as such. Also: the thing is rad and Etsy used to be filled with kits like this.

 

Comment

Yep – the purchasers are the same as the sellers. This is completely a female oriented site, no bones about it. I remember the Slate article raising ruckus back when it first came out – it pissed a lot of people off. But I find myself agreeing with almost everything in it, especially now that I’m actively trying to sell on the site. I agree that Etsy’s created this very competitive market, driving the profit margin too low for most people to ever earn a living, and a man/father in the traditional bread winner role (like it or not) would not find this a desirable option. Nor would anyone without a traditional day job or supplemental income. It is a place for the casual hobbyist to sell their wares, and not much more.

The Slate author references the “Shop Class as Soulcraft” book:
“Crawford has mastered specialized motorcycle repair not just because it makes him happy, but also because it’s work that’s embedded in a particular place and context, with a corresponding pay scale.” Clearly, he enjoys it – but it pays off for him as well.

This really is less of a response to your post and more of my own pondering about Etsy…If anything, Etsy is just another example of how gender inequality is alive and well, IMO. And how the sexes are and will be divided, now, and until the end of time. Doomsday. Yet the dream stays alive, embarrassingly, for me and countless others. Food for thought.

Emily Sue · Mar 9, 04:09 PM · #

Well, my post itself was a response to the exact same things brought up by that Slate article combined with my own frustrations at trying to use the site. The fact is the site dicks everyone over by over-promising and under-delivering both to it’s buyers (by having an organizational system that is frankly crap) and to it’s sellers (by over-promising the levels of exposure their items will get).

I can’t begin to even make an intelligent comment on the gender issues at play here except to say that the majority of the site’s users are women and are indeed getting screwed.

john · Mar 9, 06:53 PM · #

Last I heard, getting screwed is something that appeals to both genders, usually they screw each other.

My favorite line is this, “So basically if you want to buy cute things that you lack the time to make for yourself but yet still have the time to pore over listings, awesome.”

Though I love the internet, and at least it’s gotten us to buy shit other people made at home, it is such a time suck.

EAT · Mar 9, 11:42 PM · #

Ha. “Sad Etsy Boyfriends” http://www.urlesque.com/2011/03/10/sad-etsy-boyfriends/

Emily Sue · Mar 11, 10:27 AM · #

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