How MeUndies is aligning itself with cultural moments like Pride
Direct-to-consumer retailer MeUndies has built its brand on embracing inclusivity and self-expression, delivering messages around body positivity and same-sex marriage. With LGBTQ Pride celebrations soon to happen across the country, MeUndies is taking the opportunity to amplify those messages further with the launch of a new Pride-themed underwear collection.
The company partnered with DJ and EDM producer GRiZ to be the face of the colorful collection. Underwear for both men and women features rainbows, unicorns and hearts. There are even matching bras, socks, T-shirts and onesies.
GRiZ, whose real name is Grant Kwiecinski, is an active advocate for LGBTQ rights. He earned acclaim in 2017 after publicly coming out via an article he wrote for Huff Post, then named The Huffington Post.
The new line is also backed with a charitable component: MeUndies is donating one dollar from every sale to Miley Cyrus’ nonprofit the Happy Hippie Foundation, which addresses youth homelessness. Along with social, MeUndies is promoting the collection with a video and billboard ads, both featuring with GRiZ.
This is the third year MeUndies has aligned itself with Pride. Last year, the company's Sr. Graphic Designer Oscar Zaldana designed a pair of underwear that expressed his experience coming out and MeUndies told his story through nonprofit True Colors Fund which supports homeless LGBTQ youth. The year before, it worked with LGBTQ influencers like Hayley Kiyoko and Big Freedia on a colorful collection and donated $1 for every pair to the Los Angeles LGBTQ Center.
Developing collections around cultural moments like Pride has become a significant strategy for the company in 2019, according to Jonathan Shokrian, founder and CEO of MeUndies.
By taking stands on popular issues, even political ones, d-to-c companies like MeUndies are able to differentiate themselves and engage with consumers that share their values. However, it's not always an easy strategy to follow.
“When we have included same-sex couples in our ads, we’ve lost thousands of followers and customers,” said Shokrian. “But really, if you’re not going to support everyone, then this brand is not for you.”
For MeUndies, not all collections center around activism. On "May the 4th," a holiday that grew out of online Star Wars enthusiasts, MeUndies launched a Star Wars-themed collection, while a dragon print was available online to mark the start of the final season of “Game of Thrones.”
Since it launched eight years ago, MeUndies has also released collections around traditional holidays, with Christmas and Valentine’s Day remaining the company’s highest sales seasons.
Now the company is on track to do $75 million in sales this year with 10 million pairs of underwear sold. The company has also expanded beyond underwear, and customers can now purchase bandanas for their dogs and soon, onesies for children.
Another area where MeUndies is seeing engagement, especially on social, is from couples sharing photos of themselves wearing their matching sets of underwear. MeUndies started out by selling men’s underwear but launched women’s underwear in the same prints and fabric in 2015. The company says matching couples is now its best performing content on social, seeing around 25 percent more engagement than other content.
Although MeUndies enthusiastically leans into social and activism, it is cautious about is moving too quickly into physical retail. It has a store in Westfield Century City mall in Los Angeles, and has experimented with pop-ups in Plano, Texas and at the Mall of America. Those are paying off for the company but, despite the success and having Simon Malls as an investor, Shokrian said MeUndies is not about to open a ton of brick-and-mortars locations like some other d-to-c brands.
“It’s exciting to open a store, but we want to be strategic. You can end up delivering a really poor user experience, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, there’s a ton of liability,” he said. “A lot of malls that want d-to-c companies to fill up their spaces are also trying to give deals that are too good to be true. Some of these deals can end up as grossly unprofitable.”