Man Girdles Find a Growing Market

Discussion
Mar 19, 2008

By George Anderson

The term “suck it up” is taking on a whole new meaning for men who rather than dedicating themselves to working off extra pounds around the middle are now turning to “bodyshaping” underwear, aka man girdles or mirdles, to look better.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, younger males are more open to wearing these garments than previous generations. The willingness is tied, in part, to an increased emphasis on physical appearance along with having had the experience of wearing athletic wear such as compression shorts that perform many of the same body shaping tricks as the new underwear.

Another factor driving the popularity of shape shifting underwear is the boom in European fashions in America.

“In men’s clothes right now, slim is in — everything has a much more fitted silhouette, from the tapered leg to narrow dress shirts,” Richard Gualtieri, director for men’s fashion merchandising at Lord & Taylor, told the Journal.

To fit into these slimmer lines, Mr. Gualtieri said men have turned to underwear with “some stretch to it that helps lift and keep things in place a little bit more.”

While man girdles or mirdles may becoming more popular, men are advised not to make the same mistake as Daniel Hernandez. The 24-year old public relations professional bought Undergear bodyshaping underwear to help conceal some extra pounds he had put on over the holidays.

After being complemented on his svelte appearance, Mr. Hernandez decided to show his mirdle to friends.

“One guy was, like, ‘Oh, what, are you, grandma now?'” said Mr. Hernandez.

Discussion Question: Do widely publicized obesity numbers suggest that there may be a mass-market opportunity for “bodyshaping” underwear? How can retailers aggressively market a product that consumers may want but don’t want to draw attention to the fact that they want it?

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7 Comments on "Man Girdles Find a Growing Market"


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Bernice Hurst
Guest
14 years 2 months ago

I hope this doesn’t get censored but in the hopes that it will get through, there is a contradiction that leapt out at me. If it is assumed that younger men are the most likely target audience and that they want to seem more attractive, you then have to wonder why and to whom they want to appear attractive. If they succeed in attracting someone, they might just be put into a position where the mirdle (and I have to say I really really really hate that term) is revealed. Nay, it may even be removed. Wouldn’t they then appear to be even less attractive (both physically and because of their dishonesty) than they would have been in their un-mirdled state? Does this not entirely defeat the object of the exercise?

Art Williams
Guest
Art Williams
14 years 2 months ago

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry! While there is certainly nothing wrong with trying to improve our appearances, this sure doesn’t seem like a good option. Major obesity wouldn’t be improved enough by this method to warrant doing it and minor flab can be reduced by diet or exercise quickly and easily.

Everyone is always looking for the quick, easy fixes to all of life’s problems and this is a classic example. I can’t say that I am surprised by this development and am impressed with the ingenuity behind it, but doubt that it will have much success. Of course, I have thought that about other ideas that have enjoyed a fair amount of success so who knows?

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
14 years 2 months ago

Like Warren, I thought this to be a little ridiculous the first time I read it. And, for the boomer generation it probably is. But with 2/3 of the population overweight or obese, there is no doubt a market for garments that provide a slimming effect.

No, they don’t do anything about the “underlying” problem, but retailers are in it to make money, not solve social problems, right?

One thing this discussion points out is the importance of being open to new ideas. What seems preposterous to one generation can be cool to another.

Warren Thayer
Guest
14 years 2 months ago

When I first started reading this, I thought George was joking. But no, April 1 isn’t for a couple more weeks. I don’t know if this really addresses the obesity issue, since you can’t hide an extra 80 pounds with this stuff. 10 or 15 pounds, maybe. Perhaps I’m just reflecting my generation (I turn 60 today. “Happy birthday, Warren!” “Thank you!”) but I can’t imagine many guys actually wearing mirdles. Back to my point: if I had to lose 10 or 15 pounds, I’d be a lot more inclined to just do the work than spend the money. And, as mothers taught us in my generation, if we were ever hit by a car and taken to the hospital, and they had to take our pants off and found dirty underwear or a ‘mirdle’, well, we’d just die of embarrassment.

Ben Ball
Guest
14 years 2 months ago

…A product that consumers may want but don’t want to draw attention to the fact that they want it?

You mean, like Viagra? Hey, if men think it will give them a short cut to better appearance (or performance), why not?

Well, because some (like Warren–Happy Birthday Warren!) were brought up to do things the old-fashioned way. You work for it and/or you live with the capacities life gave you. But that does not seem to be the direction society is headed. So the only thing seemingly standing in the way of “mirdles” is a Michael Jordan endorsement!

Mary Baum
Guest
Mary Baum
14 years 2 months ago

Just as Spanx for women has found a way to market shapewear without using the G-word, I’m not at all worried about the industry’s ability to market the men’s version.

So I can definitely see the market among the under 40, fashion-conscious crowd–more likely in big cities and probably in the creative professions–at least at first, then go more mainstream until the products turn up in a bit from one of the Blue Collar comedians.

The challenge is in the long-term viability of the category. How soon before relaxed fit cycles in again?

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 2 months ago

Bernice, what happens when the mirdle-wearing man meets the woman wearing the padded bra? Can we sell the movie rights to that comedy?

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