Japanese clothing giant Wacoal Corp. added lace to a line of men's underwear, testing the waters of the genderless movement in the fashion industry. The dainty items were quickly sold out.
I never expected that lacy boxer briefs would become a hit like this, said Akira Mizoguchi, who works in Wacoal's sales and marketing section for men s underwear. The boundaries between men and women have disappeared more than I thought. The company, headquartered in Kyoto, has produced countless lace undies for women. In December of last year, it offered a line of boxer briefs in seven colors, such as black, red and beige. Each is priced at 3,960 yen $30 It is obvious to anyone that lace is beautiful and lacy underwear is breathable. Why not use lace for men's boxer briefs? The company said in a statement about the collection.
In the autumn of 2021, Wacoal accepted pre-orders of lacy boxers in a crowd-funding campaign. The response exceeded the expectations of the company. The boxers were all bought soon after Wacoal made the collection available online and at three stores, including the Isetan Shinjuku Store Men s Building in Tokyo's Shinjuku district.
The company achieved its three-month sales goal within 10 days.
In April of this year, Wacoal increased production but it still can't keep pace with demand.
Many of the customers are men in their 30 s and 40 s, Wacoal said.
A customer wrote in the review section on Wacoal's website that it was love at first sight. I love the design and immediately purchased it. Another wrote that wearing it lifts up my spirits.
Fashion brands, particularly those for clothing and jewelry, have led a movement to disrupt traditional gender binarism over the past decade.
For example, they have offered pearl necklaces for men and used lacy garments and skirts in their men's collections.
The Paris International Co., an Osaka-based authorized distributor of Cosabella, started importing Cosabella men s lacy briefs early this year and made them available online.
A Paris International representative said the company received inquiries from retailers who want to sell the briefs in their stores.
Hidetoshi Takeyasu, a management at Gunze Ltd., a Osaka-based apparel company, said the trend in men's underwear in Japan has changed every 20 years or so under the influence of Europe and the United States. After World War II, Japanese men were popular with long underdrawers and undershorts called sarumata.
Briefs took over in the 1950s and continued to be popular for around two decades. In the 1980s, men preferred to wear trunks.
But boxer types became more readily available around 2000 and have remained popular until now, Takeyasu said.
The business model of appealing to popular tastes and relying on bulk production has become outdated and more difficult to sustain in the fashion industry.
He said that diversity is more important nowadays, as well as responding to segmentalized needs.
Takeyasu said that e-commerce has allowed people to buy things without worrying about the prying eyes of other shoppers.
He said there was the potential for an unconventional product to enjoy large sales.