Archive for Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sucking it in: Guys starting to take underwear cue from women

August 31, 2010


Further signs of the impending apocalypse: Men’s girdles are now all the rage.

They call it “men’s shapewear,” true, but ladies, we know that you know from long and tummy-tucking experience what that really means.

Spanx for Men — undershirts that fit and feel like a wet suit — debuted to such testosterone-fueled success this year that the company is coming out with a line of (gulp) bottoms for the fall.

The cotton compression undershirt “helps with the love handles and beer belly and man boobs — or ‘moobs,’ as we call them,” says Maggie Adams, public relations manager for Spanx.

An Australian company, Equmen, started up last year and will sell you a male-model-worthy “core precision undershirt” for a cool $99.

On Amazon, you can find the “Mens Belly Buster Athletic Supporter Girdle.”

But why go online? There are at least two companies using late-night infomercials to offer gentlemen of discerning taste “compression shirts” for their “problem areas.”

For the low, low price of $19.95 (plus $7.95 shipping and handling), you can get SlimTs, which use “special spandex-blend fibers” to make you “look firmer” with “no gym memberships!”

The “Insta Slim Muscle Tanks” (available for a limited time for only $29.90, plus $9.95 shipping and handling) will help you “flatten your stomach, redefine your chest, eliminate your love handles!”

“Men’s shapewear is one of the few up-and-coming trends you can actually put your hands on,” says Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for the market research firm NPD Group.

While the term “men’s shapewear” probably didn’t exist in the Mark Twain era, this sort of thing isn’t entirely new. Men who went for the cosmopolitan dandy look in the late 19th century in Europe and the States were known to sometimes wear some type of binding undergarment. And the history of men’s fashion, broadly stated, has been a search to accentuate the male ideal of the V-shaped body — broad shoulders, narrow hips — whether in medieval armor or the modern suit.

“Some of this has evolved from guys who already look pretty good who want muscle shirts that don’t look like they’re from the 1950s,” Cohen said. “When Nike and Under Armour started getting into the compression shirt or close-fitting garment business, way back to the Bo Jackson ads, guys noticed that it enhanced their look.”

Indeed, Equmen (“Equality for Men”) markets its product as much as for athletes as Pete Potato-Belly, saying that its high-end garments amount to a healthy life-style choice, improving posture and back support, as well as a “noticeably slimmer appearance.”

(To see for ourselves, we dutifully plunked down $58 for a Spanx compression shirt, opting for a tasteful black V-neck. We discovered it’s not a T-shirt and it will snap back like a rubber band if you stretch it. We banged our nose trying to pull it over our head. It felt like wearing a wet suit, only you don’t get to go to the beach.)

Sales of men’s undergarments have been fluctuating over the past couple of years, NPD data show, but the field recorded 0.5 percent growth in units sold in 2009, to end with 1.53 billion units sold. (Sales of women’s intimates, for comparison, were up 1 percent last year, ending with 3.49 billion units sold.) Men’s shapewear, with more than a dozen companies marketing various forms of shirts or underwear that hold the belly in, perk up the bottom or narrow the waist, are a small part of the uptick, Cohen said.

Nonetheless, the garments’ impact is being felt, according to some retailers.

“They’ve done incredibly well for us,” says Liberty Jones, the public relations manager for Neiman Marcus at Mazza Gallerie in D.C. “This is a very nice tool that men now have. It gives you confidence.”

The store in Washington isn’t hiding the things behind the counter — they’re featured in an in-store display, right out by the coats and ties.

Mariam Ma, who created the Canadian-based online warehouse Mens Girdle Store last year, says the things are selling not just to lumpy 40-somethings but to slim young dudes who want a perfect silhouette.

“Have you seen those skinny suits they are wearing that’s in fashion today?” she said. “Not a lot of people can pull that off without help.”

Houshang Jalili, president of California-based Insta Slim, was one of the pioneers of the field. He debuted his “ISA collection” of men’s shapewear — essentially spandex-type T-shirts in crew neck, V-neck or tank top — in 2008 to instant success. He did so after working in women’s swimwear for 25 years.

“I noticed the tummy control suits sold so much better than the other ones,” he said, “so I thought it would be good to try it for men. ... I would say about 65 percent I sell directly to men, and about 35 percent are to women buying for their husbands or boyfriends.”


Hope_And_Change 7 years, 5 months ago

Queer Eye for the Straight guys love them. With a man bag, or Satchel for the effeminate type. Girdles are all the rage.

Does Obama wear one? Well duhhh.. or course he does. With a straight dangling from his lips and another frosty cold one in his cart, the girdle affords him correct posture during his take-away on the goat track golf courses he plays.


riverdrifter 7 years, 5 months ago

Did you look carefully at all those folks at the Lincoln Memorial last weekend? Lots an' lots of fatties. Yuk.

Thinking_Out_Loud 7 years, 5 months ago

And your points to these comments are...? I'm not quite sure why you care who loves them or wears them? I certainly don't see the political connection.

Maddy Griffin 7 years, 5 months ago

"Indeed, Equmen (“Equality for Men”) markets its product as much as for athletes as Pete Potato-Belly, saying that its high-end garments amount to a healthy life-style choice, improving posture and back support, as well as a “noticeably slimmer appearance.”" Really? How about eating more fruits and veggies and getting some exercise that doesn't involve riding around in a golf cart for a "healthy lifestyle choice." Also, just once I'd like to see a thread without any digs on Obama.This article had nothing to do with him, but there's always some idiot who has to get one in on him anyway. Jeez!

verity 7 years, 5 months ago

I agree, grammady, on both counts. How about people getting off their fat asses and getting some exercise?

Kent Fisher 7 years, 5 months ago

This is great, but what is the solution for "moobs"?

bad_dog 7 years, 5 months ago

Perhaps they should ask for the "breast ironing" department.

See Rhonda's blog on this topic for any questions.

CreatureComforts 7 years, 5 months ago

What happens when all the men are womanized so much that there is only one gender in America?!?!

And about instead of spending the money on these things, you spend it on a gym membership, thus negating the need???

bad_dog 7 years, 5 months ago

It's good to know you'll be safe, Con1 ;-)

LadyJ 7 years, 5 months ago

A real man use duct tape to hold it all in.

LadyJ 7 years, 5 months ago

The actual paper copy of the LJW has a more full size picture and I have to say the guy in the t-shirt looks better. The special shirt makes the "moobs" more visible.

LadyJ 7 years, 5 months ago

But then maybe that's why Queer Eye for the Straight guys love them.

Practicality 7 years, 5 months ago

Hey! How did this picture of me appear on the computer? HONEY! You promised not to tell anyone! I just wanted you to take a before and after photo so I could compare! Did you tell your sister?

TheEleventhStephanie 7 years, 5 months ago

Ah, suffering for fashion. I hope men feel the need to wear high heels next....

LadyJ 7 years, 5 months ago

Have you ever noticed that the fat male tv stars all have skinny, hot, and pretty wives?

kernal 7 years, 5 months ago

Ick. Maybe those trophy wives don't wear glasses or contacts after the wedding.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 5 months ago

Do these pleather chaps make my butt look big?

Flap Doodle 7 years, 5 months ago

Wow, that's a golden oldie, prospector.

LadyJ 7 years, 5 months ago

LOL, was just envisioning tatoos men could get where their pants show their butt cracks. How about tatooing a thong there (credit goes to snap for the idea)? "Butt crack tats" I believe I heard the term "tramp tat" used for the tatoo women get at the base of their spine.

LadyJ 7 years, 5 months ago

Or how about "if you don't like it, don't look" or "nobody's forcing you to look"

Ricky_Vaughn 7 years, 5 months ago

That's tramp stamp. Please use the correct nomenclature.

Ricky_Vaughn 7 years, 5 months ago

They should make a piece like that for men with the sock built in so to speak. Ever seen booty-pop panties?

What would the male equivalent be called?

Mary Darst 7 years, 5 months ago

Oh, this is so funny. You male people are sooo funny.

Practicality 7 years, 5 months ago

Fellas, we really need to nip this in the bud ASAP. This goes against the unwritten code men have with other men. If a few of us start doing this kinda stuff, our women folk will expect it of us too. Next they will have us getting bikini waxes, shaving under our arms, and putting on makeup. Next thing you know we will be spending over an hour to "get ready" to leave the house. Stop the madness! Women just need to be thankful when we take a shower and put on a clean shirt before we go somewhere.

LadyJ 7 years, 5 months ago

Maybe so, but you need to clean the shower and wash the shirt yourself.

Practicality 7 years, 5 months ago

Clean the shower??? That is the kind of crazy talk my wife tries to tell me. Why does something that uses soap and water on a daily basis need to be "cleaned". Enough all ready.

gccs14r 7 years, 5 months ago

I heard a bit of Johnny Dare the other morning. He was talking about the details of the "brozillian" wax job. I can't imagine anyone wanting to do that, much less a dude.

BigPrune 7 years, 5 months ago

I read that some chicks dig the lawnscape or whatever they call it.....manscape

BigPrune 7 years, 5 months ago

All of this squeezing of the men experience an increase in gas pain and will these pants coming out allow for any sudden backside expansions?

Practicality 7 years, 5 months ago


The backside expansion would probably be all right. Because, as my wife has pointed out, too many men my age suffer from the "noass" Phenomenon or simply two pancakes in a pair of shorts when referring to me.

verity 7 years, 5 months ago

No, they will cause an inplosion---

BigPrune 7 years, 5 months ago

Then they need to have a big button dead center.... like a couch cushion.

Kontum1972 7 years, 5 months ago

the Feds monitor the chatter here anyway...they do on a majority of sites...thats how they track down the potential nutt balls...

grimpeur 7 years, 5 months ago

Whattaya got here, some new-fangled use for recycled pantyhose and milk jugs? Fer yimminy's sake, people, if it ain't whalebone, it ain't real! And no leather lacing?

Romance is dead.

Now drop and give me twenty, you naugahyde-coated fatties!

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