Men like fashion, too.
Left with a meager number of largely expensive brands and sparse closets, Knoxville men, like Laurence Faber, are starting to voice their right to trendy, thrifty threads.
"I definitely think there is a discrepancy between men and women's fashionable retailers for affordable clothing," said Faber, senior in French. "I've never bought an article of clothing from a store in Knoxville for retail price in the five years I've lived here, except for from the new Urban Outfitters. There are a handful of affordable, fashion-forward retailers online, but none in Knoxville."
The local lack of these stores becomes even more pronounced when juxtaposed with the myriad of options available to women, Faber noted.
"I haven't talked to any girls who have ever expressed the difficulty I've had in finding clothes," Faber said.
Jonathan Burkhalter, junior in history, said he believes the vast quantity of options within stores' women's departments often comes at the expense of the selection for men.
"The women's department takes up much more space in the stores, unless it is more specifically geared toward being a men's store, which is very rare," Burkhalter said. "There are more options for women, and those options are cheaper. There just aren't as many options for fashionable men's clothes that won't break the bank."
This financial gap leaves Burkhalter, who spends an average of $60-$80 for dress shirts and $50 for pants, sacrificing other comforts and necessities whenever it comes time to add to his closet.
"I can usually only afford one article of clothing at a time," he said. "Over the years, I have not eaten for a few days to pay for a new shirt that I really liked when I really needed to add something new to my wardrobe.
"It's mostly frustrating when I find so many things that I love and can plan a better outfit than what's on the mannequin, but I can't afford the clothes."
Since stores pose problems, men have the option to order clothing online or shop at thrift stores. Although thrifting can yield some unique results, it also has definite drawbacks, said frequent thrifter and member of local band Knaves, Thomas O'Connor.
"I usually spend about $20 when I go clothes shopping and always walk away with more than five items because I shop mainly at thrift stores," O'Connor said. "Except I've found more recently that the clothes that fit me better are obviously at more retail-brand stores."
O'Connor, who said he believes that women "totally have an upper hand" in ease and affordability of dress, said he would still thrift even if cheap retail men's fashion was more accessible. However, he admits that thrifting isn't a comprehensive source for all articles of clothing.
"I would probably still thrift to find the sweet vintage clothing that you can't find elsewhere," he said. "But for items such as pants and shoes, it's much harder to get a good find at thrifts."
Forever 21 is a large chain clothing store that provides extensive selection for females and a notably smaller selection for men. Although Forever 21 does carry a men's line online and in other cities, Knoxville's West Town Mall location has been long-neglected due to being one of the chain's smaller stores.
Increased demand may change this, however, according to Visual Merchandiser Manager Charlotte Lezier.
"We have been requesting the line because a lot of men come in asking for it," Lezier said. "Guys come in either with their girlfriends or alone daily and ask us why we don't have a men's store."
Lezier, who has appealed to corporate to integrate the men's line, said she hopes the company might rethink their prior store-size criteria in order to better compete with Market Square's Urban Outfitters.
"We have better prices," she said. "A lot of guys, especially those in college or beginning their careers, don't have tons of money. They're just starting out, but that doesn't mean they don't want to look stylish. Our prices would really help them out a lot.
"They wouldn't have to have a fortune to pull together an outfit or spend hours trying to piece something together at a thrift store. (Getting the men's line here) would given them a lot of inspiration and would be exciting."
Burkhalter said he believes Knoxville is open as a community to retailers like Forever 21 changing the current selection of dismal male duds.
"There is a growing urban vibe to Knoxville, especially downtown," Burkhalter said. "We are becoming more of a city, and men are starting to dress sharper in public. I think there is an untapped market here."