Packing heat in a sensitive area? Bra bringing you down? Too ballsy for your own good? Customers who answer affirmatively to those questions are increasingly logging on to Freshpair.com to find the fixes for sensitive garment issues that they might be too embarrassed to address at a brick-and-mortar retailer.
While e-commerce has been booming for years, and buying underwear online is nothing new, what's surprising about Freshpair is that half its customers are men. And a large percentage of these men's purchases are going toward sexy styles that are harder to find in local stores, according to Freshpair.com President Matthew Butlein. Jock straps are a big seller on the site, for example, but the company has found that "only one-third of jock strap wearers actually wear their jock straps during sports activities. The rest are just worn for fashion," said Mr. Butlein. Guys are also logging on to find tanks that enhance both their torsos (yes, there are Spanx for men) and bottom halves (bulge-boosting trunks, anyone?) as well as to find solutions to some of the other package problems mentioned above on its "UnderweaRX" section.
Founded in 2000 out of a one-bedroom apartment, Freshpair has seen large growth over the past 11 years and in 2004 moved into an office in New York's trendy SoHo neighborhood. (Fittingly, for company that sells products for privates, Freshpair is itself privately held.) In 2007, it added its 100th brand to the site and continues to see healthy growth amid the recession, said Mr. Butlein. Part of the reason is a big focus on promotion -- every employee's email signature contains the question "Want to see my underwear?"
What seems to have given Freshpair.com its biggest boost is its founding in 2003 of National Underwear Day, which has been featured on "The Today Show" and "Entertainment Tonight," and is coming up on Aug. 5. Underwear runway shows in Times Square encourage people to throw out their "overstretched, hole-y and stained" underwear, said Mr. Butlein, and to, well, get a fresh pair. Interestingly, Freshpair has found that people are very loyal to a certain style of underwear, most likely what they were first given by their parents. "In a way, underwear choice becomes hereditary," said Mr. Butlein.
To get people out of their ruts -- or to at least replace the undergarments they're so loyal to with a new pair -- Freshpair is giving away 5,000 pairs of underwear throughout the month of August from brands such as Calvin Klein, Maidenform, Wacoal and even good 'ole Hanes. Want a preview of what's out there? Check out Freshpair's top 10 sellers for the week of July 17 to the 23rd in the slideshow below.