It's tough being a man these days. They tell us what we wear on the outside really matters but not to neglect the inside. How many of us really care what's happening there?
William Strange, 23, owns and runs underwear company Three65, and says he can sympathise.
Three65 was established on the principle that if the focus of underwear for men wasn't fashion, then it's a volume game.
His company has introduced an online subscription model in which you can be sent regular shipments of fresh undies to solve the age-old problem of who is going to replace your worn-out, saggy, holey undergarments.
"Men hate shopping for jocks," Strange says.
Whether your preference is for something shapely or something roomy, Strange says there has been no significant recent advances in design.
He also says he knows what retail choice most men would be likely to make when 20 pairs of Big W briefs cost around the same as a single pair of Calvin Kleins.
Strange believes the underwear market is due for a shake-up, however.
"The average Aussie guy doesn't want Dolce & Gabbana or Calvin Klein - he just wants a supply of good-quality, clean and nicely fitting undies at a decent price."
Having previously worked in the property business, Strange now lives in a house full of underwear - about 10,000 pairs he thinks.
He found an underwear manufacturer in China, set up his three65.com.au site and packages and fills all subscription orders himself.
Only three months into the business, he has about 60 subscribers getting new deliveries every three months.
And while his company is a cottage industry, he has enticed AFL footballer Cyril Rioli to be a shareholder and unofficial spokesman for the brand. No-one can guess what influence Rioli may have on sales, but it doesn't hurt to have a name supporting the business.
Strange says Three65 offers packages of briefs in pairs at A$26.95 ($29.69), a trifecta for A$29.95 and a quaddie for A$35.95.
He says he calculated that the average pair of undies cost A$24.60.
Bonds and Rios were about the same price, he says, while budget retailers like Big W were considerably cheaper. He found several brands, such as aussieBum, whose undies could sell for about A$40-A$50 a pair, he says.
"There is a difference in the quality at the bottom end from the top," Strange admits. "We are about price and quality. I believe we come in extremely competitively and offer quality every bit as good as the so-called top brands."
If men don't care too much about undies, then what about women? Strange says about 45 per cent of male underwear purchases are made by women, but style, sexiness and branding isn't important here either.
Sexologist and sex therapist Amanda Robb says a man's undergarment doesn't generally figure highly in the attraction stakes.
"The appreciation and appeal doesn't lie in the actual brand, shape or style of the underwear itself, but in the confidence, effort and thought put into wearing them in order to please a partner," she said.
Strange is hoping that his subscription undies will catch on, but there have been some blips. He recently introduced a "snooze" option to slow down the rate of delivery should underwear drawers start to overflow.
He says his customers have also had problems organising repeat-debits.
Both problems are being sorted out. The payment companies are coming on board, he says, and he is introducing an update option should his customers lose or put on weight. He's also offering free socks.
"There are 7.5 million men aged from 15 to 65 in Australia and we want 75 per cent of that market," Strange says.
"None of us in this game are reinventing the wheel. We're just trying to simplify the process and take it back to the functional and cheap process it should be."
- Sydney Morning Herald
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