Tuesday Tidbits 12-28-2021: Investing, Recycling, and Men’s Lingerie(?!?)

Written By: Eric @ MensUnderwearGuide.com, Founder and Head Writer of MensUnderwearGuide.com

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Investing in a Men’s Underwear Business

Have you ever thought of owning a men’s underwear company? Probably not. Yet, a few men’s underwear companies are listed on a public stock exchange, meaning you could own an (excruciating tiny) piece of such a company. The best example in the United States is Hanes (NYSE:HBI), a brand ubiquitous with men’s underwear. Since 2006, the stock price has almost tripled in price. Although if you bought in the Spring of 2015, you would be down more than 50%. Womp womp!

Hanes isn’t the only public underwear company. Step One is a new men’s underwear company based in Australia that caught my eye a few months ago. One of my readers tipped me off to Step One, and at first glance, I didn’t think too much of them. They sold bamboo underwear in trunks and boxer briefs, entirely in solid colors, and that was it. While I love bamboo underwear, I couldn’t see anything special with Step One specifically.

I did not see Step One’s special sauce. Now serving the United States and the United Kingdom, it went public on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) with ticker STP. For entrepreneurs and startups, going public is a dream come true. Not just a way to cash out, being listed by a stock exchange is a signal that you have made it, and many investors believe in your product. Congratulations to Step One!

Unfortunately, even a quick rise in stardom doesn’t guarantee continued success. Since going public on November 5, 2021, Step One’s share price declined around 44% to December 27. This decline occurred starting on December 22 as the company announced that they owed back GST taxes in Australia, and they experienced production backlogs (who isn’t experiencing supply chain problems today?)

Nonetheless, men’s underwear is trending away from cotton and toward more renewable materials such as modal and bamboo. I believe Step One will continue to grow in the future, and of course, I wish them the best of luck!

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Soil Your Undies!

At first, I thought this was a joke based on the project name. Nope! It is not a joke, but it is also a government-sponsored program! And for a good reason. I learned that 100% cotton decomposes in the soil, which makes sense since cotton is a natural fiber. You can determine how healthy your soil is by timing how long it takes for 100% cotton to decay. Healthier dirt is better for farming crops or even your backyard organic garden.

So, where is the connection to men’s underwear? If you have 100% cotton underwear, you can plant your used underwear in your soil and determine how fertile your soil is. How amazing is that? Taking this concept a step further, instead of throwing away your cotton undies when they are too old, you can bury them or place them in your composting bin instead and divert waste from the landfill. This idea is so cool!

Hence, the project name Soil Your Undies. Do you own 100% cotton underwear? If so, take the soil test and tag both #soilyourundies and @mensunderwearguide on Instagram!

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However, the issue is that this process requires 100% cotton underwear. How many men’s underwear satisfies that requirement today? Probably very little. Even cheaper brands like Hanes and Fruit of the Loom have some spandex/elastane content, which does not break down. Moreover, even if you wear 100% cotton underwear, the waistband is almost always made from different materials, including spandex/elastane. 

Based on what I have seen in photos, the microbes will eat the cotton around the spandex. Yet, if the microbes eat around the spandex, will microplastics accumulate in the soil? Microplastics are the newest trouble the environment faces

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Upcycle Your Undies!

On the flip side, The Big Favorite wants to make new underwear from your old underwear. This company allows you to send back your old underwear for new pairs, and then they sanitize and upcycle the underwear. At the same time, The Big Favorite gives you a discount on your next purchase to create a virtuous circle of recycling, reusing, and reducing waste. 

Recycling requires 100% cotton underwear, but I love the idea! The Big Favorite notes that people throw away 11 million pounds of underwear per day. I encourage guys to buy higher-quality underwear and take good care of their underwear. Reducing consumption is even better than recycling. 

While The Big Favorite notes that, on average, people wear underwear for only six months, I have had many pairs of underwear for years and years. I purchase high-quality underwear – even though it is more expensive! – and I ensure I air dry my underwear after washing. Over the past few years, I can count on one hand how many pairs I have thrown out. By taking good care of your underwear, you can reduce consumption while purchasing underwear you love.

From Metal Worker to Men’s Lingerie Designer

Finally, I loved reading this story from Lad Bible regarding The Moot Revolution. Jules Parker from East Sussex, England, started The Moot Revolution to fill a gap in the men’s underwear market for designing and creating men’s lingerie. As Mr. Parker notes, he viewed his wife’s lingerie as a “decorative piece” and that it was “bonkers” guys didn’t have other underwear options besides the “standard sort of boxers or briefs.”

I previously profiled Ms. Anderson-Chiles –  who lived in England before moving to Northern Ireland – and her struggle with the men’s underwear market. She started her bespoke underwear business for the same reason as Mr. Parker: men’s underwear is utilitarian, not beautiful. During our conversation, Ms. Anderson-Chiles opined that she sees men’s lingerie as a growing trend, which at the time, I didn’t ponder that much. Yet, I was wrong, and indeed, men’s lingerie is growing. 

Either way, I am delighted that guys – and their partners! – have another outlet to express themselves through their underwear. Men’s lingerie isn’t weird or odd; it is another beautiful expression of the male body and mind. As Mr. Parker commented in the Lad Bible article:

Explaining the inspiration behind Moot, Jules said: “I’ll be out with the dog and you’ll see a male pheasant, of course, a beautifully decorated bird, and the female, of course, is very plain. And really that narrative runs across the whole of nature, where the males are more decorative.”

– Jules Parker, from LadBible

I completely agree!

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Eric at MensUnderwearGuide.com

Eric is the creator and writer of MensUnderwearGuide.com. He loves boxer briefs and trunks, exploring the new world of briefs, the soft feeling of modal and the lightness of mesh microfiber, and of course writing and researching the world of men's underwear.

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