Hope does loom on the horizon, as men are leaning towards performance fabrics, innovative products, novelty patterns and bright colors to replace much of what has been in their dresser drawers for too long.
“Performance fabrics have become really prevalent in the business,” says Brian Small, buyer of men’s basics for Bloomingdale’s. “Many of our underwear customers are looking for longer-length silhouettes in performance fabrics, and we have seen an increase in demand for knit fabrics and performance stretch.”
“There is a lot of interest from our customers in technical fabrications and bright colors,” says Darien Sport Shop’s GMM Tom Whitney. “We are seeing a definite surge in tactile underwear going forward.”
“At four-year-old Wood, men are steadily responding to the company’s commitment to odor control and thermal control in its fabrics,” says founder Terresa Zimmerman.
NEW AND NOVEL
Other manufacturers and retailers are counting on novelty products to help spark sales, especially in hosiery. “In the winter, we sold some Star Wars socks, and they did incredibly well,” says Hannah Shepherd, buyer for Iowa-based department store chain Von Maur. “So now, we’re doing superheroes for Father’s Day.”
IN LIVING COLOR
Purple polka dots. Pink stripes. That’s right: bold hues and patterns are now likely to be seen on a man’s ankle or his butt. “Color continues to be important in both the underwear and hosiery categories, especially during the spring season,” says Bloomingdale’s Small. Adds Von Maur’s Shepherd: “Bright colors and patterns are flying off the shelves in our hosiery department. I think it’s a way for men to pop their outfit with some subtlety.”
Bright colors and bold patterns are nothing new at Lorenzo Uomo. Celebrating its 25th year in the men’s fashion business, its signature looks incorporate stripes as well as fashion forward patterns, and always bright, fun colors.
“We’ve always had a customer that loved fun, playful and conversational hosiery,” says Joel Ainatchi, EVP of Lorenzo Uomo. “We have seen men wearing them in a very casual way or with the weekend attire. However, in the past 5 years, we’ve seen a shift from just wearing them casually to incorporating them with dressier styles. Men have become more sophisticated in the way they dress and they do want to make a fashion statement, even when they go to work in a suit. As a group, men are really grasping on to this style of incorporating fun and newness into their wardrobe, finding it as an easy way to add a pop of color with subtlety.”
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It’s hardly surprising that this color trend is just as prevalent in the South. Tim Shaw, owner of contemporary men’s store 319 Men on Charleston, South Carolina’s fashionable King Street, says that his colored sock business was so strong he had to move their displays from the very front of the shop towards the middle to get customers to come in and see the rest of his other offerings. “Otherwise, they would just buy socks and leave,” he notes.
Big-name underwear brands are also seeing color as a game-changer. “It is my biggest growing category,” says Sarah Davis, director of sales for Polo Ralph Lauren. “Only 50 percent of the company’s undershirt business remains white, which is a gigantic change from five years ago when that business was essentially all-white.
“Sometimes, we add a colorful brand just to give the department a little more fun on the floor,” adds Von Maur’s Shepherd. “Just showcasing an ‘icing piece’ can get men to walk into the department.”
Wood Underwear® — underwear, shirts and loungewear for men. We want to get every man into great feeling, great looking underwear. We deserve it! Our brand grabs you. Our product brings you back. Wood is good. Please contact Terresa Zimmerman at email@example.com or 310-339-4355 and visit the Wood Underwear website.
Most of all, say experts, men simply need to change their attitude about underwear. “Men could learn a lot from looking at a woman’s underwear drawer,” says Wood’s Zimmerman.
“There needs to be different underwear for different occasions. What you wear to work shouldn’t be what you wear on date night,” she adds. “I encourage all of our customers to try different styles and find what they like. And we also remind them that they should replace their underwear periodically.”