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Why men love luxury (and that's OK)

There has been a lot written about how young men are spending more money on high end fashion. Many big brands like Prada, Michael Kors and Burberry are focusing on the "Yummy"—young, urban males— a coin termed by HSBC Equity Research.

I'm going to ask you this—and I'm only going to ask once—please don't call me a Yummy. EVER. I would rather be called a metrosexual, douchebag or Hamptons jerk (that's new since my recent article) than a YUMMY.

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Because sometimes a man just wants to feel luxurious, you know?
Source: Raj Mahal
Because sometimes a man just wants to feel luxurious, you know?

According to Bain Capital, men account for 40 percent of the luxury market and that number is likely to go higher.

So, as a young, urban male who isn't afraid to admit he likes a little luxury, I'm going to tell you WHY we like it.

The job market

We're still in a challenging job market—especially if you work on Wall Street. It's always important to look good for an interview—but especially in a tough job environment.

When I ran a trading desk, I had hundreds of qualified candidates from top schools looking to get an entry-level job. When I was looking for an experienced mid-level trader, I could choose from 10 to 20 qualified candidates. Following the recession, the elimination of headcount, plus firms like Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers no longer around, it's more competitive than ever. There are so many experienced qualified candidates looking for work. So, standing out from the crowd is more important than it's ever been on Wall Street.


I think smart, young men have realized you have to spend money to look your best. While most of us aren't blessed with the good looks of Leonardo DiCaprio, it doesn't mean you can't dress like the "Wolf of Wall Street." After all it was Mark Twain who said: "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society."

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Do the math: Not spending the extra $500 on that custom Armani suit or $800 Ferragamo shoes could end up costing you thousands—or millions.

Looking good clearly helps you get hired, promoted and more pay. Good-looking people make 3 percent to 4 percent more than those with below-average looks, according to the book "Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People are More Successful."

One word: Tinder

This is the age of Facebook and Instagram – instant gratification on the Internet. Snap judgment. With apps like Tinder, where you make a quick decision if you're interested in someone based on photos, if you don't look your best, you get swiped left—meaning, I never want to see you again. NEXT!

It's very true that both men and women are both marrying later in life than our parents did. It's not a big deal for men or women to be single in their mid 30s anymore.

And, let's be honest about the nature of men—and Wall Street men in particular: We're always looking for something better, whether it's a stock—or a woman. We want someone who's more attractive than the last.

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Wall Street guys spend more money on cosmetics, watches, accessories because they think it makes them look more desirable. I proudly use an anti-aging SPF 15 moisturizer every morning and go to the gym three to four times a week. Half the time I even work out.

As a status symbol

"Started from the bottom, now we're here. Started from the bottom, now my whole team ... here." -- Drake

As you rise to a certain tax bracket, men are spending more on luxury goods as a sense of belonging. Even if you are not making a lot of money, men are spending money on luxury goods to feel like they are part of that elite.

It's in our nature especially on Wall Street to compare ourselves to our peers as a benchmark for social caste. When your friend shows up at at the hot Hamptons party wearing the newest Givenchy T-shirt and the gold-dipped Nike Dunks, while you show up wearing an Ed Hardy T-shirt and designer Crocs, you can't help but feel a sense of cultural inferiority.

Because you're worth it

If you are young and have PEP (potential earning power), don't be stupid and blow all your money, but enjoy your success. Buy that Rolex Daytona. Get the expensive table at Hakkasan in Vegas because Calvin Harris is playing. Rent a Ferrari for the ride out to the Hamptons. You don't have financial responsibilities like children's private-school tuition, saving for retirement—or alimony—so have fun.

The trend of men spending more on luxury is pretty apparent—and it's about time. In a truly equal society where women and men should be on an equal playing field in terms of getting jobs and getting equal pay, that should also apply to luxury spending—men should spend as much as women.

My advice to men: Enjoy those spa treatments and mani-pedis. You have earned it.

Commentary by Raj Malhotra (Raj Mahal is his stage name), a former Wall Street trader-turned-stand-up-comedian. He has worked at Wall Street including Bank of America, BNP Paribas and Nomura. He can be seen at Gotham Comedy Club, Broadway Comedy Club, NY Comedy Club, Greenwich Village Comedy Club, and the Tribeca Comedy Lounge. Follow him on Twitter @RajMahalTweets.