Briefly, here’s the big problem with guys and their underwear: They hate shopping for new pairs.
Count SpareFoot’s Zach Bird among those haters. One summer day in 2014, Bird was pondering his underwear drawer at home and realized he probably needed to toss some of the older pairs.
“Of course, I knew I’d have to replace my old ones, and I figured that that was one of the reasons I’d held onto them for so long—it’s so inconvenient for me to make a trip to Target or Macy’s or wherever to actually go buy underwear in person,” said Bird, a member of SpareFoot’s Sales Team.
Startup Takes Flight
Born out of that frustration was an e-commerce business called BirdBriefs, whose website launched on New Year’s Day. Every three months, the startup will ship two, four or six pairs of brand-new men’s boxer briefs to a subscriber. The subscription fee depends on the number of BirdBriefs ordered; for instance, if you purchase a six-pack, the cost works out to $6 a pair.
Bird (pictured at left in top photo) co-founded the company with Matt Ward (pictured at right in top photo), another member of SpareFoot’s Sales Team.
“We’ve made purchasing underwear easier, less expensive—with no retail markup—and totally convenient by shipping straight to your door,” Bird said.
There appears to be a sizable market for easy-to-buy men’s underwear: A 2014 survey by online retailer Littlewoods.com of men in the United Kingdom found that the average guy hangs onto his undies for seven years.
Even in light of that filthy finding, consumers around the world spent $2.7 billion on men’s underwear from October 2013 through September 2014, according to The NPD Group, a market research firm. During that period, boxer briefs grabbed the top spot in the men’s underwear market with a nearly 40 percent share.
“Men now join women in caring about inner wear; it’s not just the outside that counts,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at The NPD Group.
Take That, Calvin Klein!
In aiming for a sliver of the $2.7 billion market for men’s “inner wear,” Bird touts the quality and styling of BirdBriefs, which are made in China. The fabric: 95 percent long-staple cotton (the highest-quality cotton available) and 5 percent spandex.
“They’re comfortable. And you aren’t paying out the nose like you would for other premium underwear like Calvin Klein or ExOfficio,” said Bird, who, naturally, wears boxer briefs.
The target market for BirdBriefs is men from 18 to 45 years old. At some point, the business might expand into the youth market, Bird said. “I’ve had a number of women ask me about selling women’s briefs as well,” he said.
BirdBriefs also might stretch beyond boxer briefs into selling socks.
“In general, buying new basics is an outdated process. Why go to the store for something you aren’t going to try on?” Bird said. “We think people would purchase basic wear more frequently if it was less of a hassle, so we want to make it as easy as possible for as many people as possible.”
Success With Skivvies
For now, though, BirdBriefs is concentrating on just one thing in the e-commerce nest: men’s boxer briefs. As Bird and Ward roll out their boxer-briefs business, they’re continuing to pick up knowledge about marketing, manufacturing, shipping, online retailing and other business matters.
“From the get-go, I told myself that even if I fail, it’s worth it,” Bird said. “That being said, I want to be successful. But there are a lot of different ways to define success. I’d say just making it this far has made it a success.”
A bolder definition of success: Signing up 100,000 subscribers for the BirdBriefs service. If BirdBriefs hits that mark, according to Bird, the business will be able to crow that it’s changed the way guys shop for a basic necessity.
Of course, Bird said he wouldn’t mind “the riches and fame that come along with being an underwear kingpin.”