Equmen Launches Support Underwear

Are American men ready for their own version of Spanx?

Are American men ready for their own version of Spanx?

This story first appeared in the December 18, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

A new Sydney-based company, Equmen, is bringing the body-slimming undergarment concept into the men’s arena, with a line of T-shirts, briefs and trunks making its debut in the U.S. early next year. Designed with input from physical therapists, the tight, form-fitting garments are said to help improve posture, blood circulation and, perhaps most importantly, visibly streamline the body.

Similar technology is already popular in the performance activewear market, with brands like Under Armour, Nike and Skins offering compression underwear that helps improve athletic performance. Equmen, however, is geared toward everyday use or for special events, like weddings, when men might want a little assistance looking their best, according to the company. “Compression garments have been developed to help athletes perform at their peak. We have found that the same technologies can benefit men on an everyday basis,” said Equmen chief executive officer Gavin Jones.

Jones, who owns a small Sydney-based media company called Vibe Australia Pty Ltd., founded Equmen with Corie Chung, a Stanford graduate who has worked in marketing positions at Revlon and L’Oréal. She was most recently senior marketing manager at L’Oréal’s Matrix hair care business, where she helped launch the Matrix for Men brand. The duo has brought on Michael Flint, a former co-founder of the Canada-based Ginch Gonch underwear label, to head up sales and operations.

Tank tops will retail for $89; short-sleeve T-shirts, for $99, and long-sleeve Ts, for $109. Briefs and boxer briefs will be rolled out later in the spring.

Manufactured in Israel by Tefron Ltd., the poly-spandex-nylon garments feature a unique “helix-mapping” design that mimics the crisscross taping that physical therapists use to support muscles and improve posture.

While Equmen is emphasizing the health benefits for men on its packaging, a clear selling point of the undergarments is their slimming effects. Equmen declined to provide sales goals for its launch, but Atlanta-based Spanx has built a $350 million business at retail catering to women with its body shapers. In fact, Spanx is readying the launch of men’s products, although the launch date is still being determined.

“After seeing our success with firming women’s butts, men are asking Spanx to help them flatten their guts,” said a Spanx spokeswoman. “Today’s men are more style and image conscious, and they’re ready to take advantage of the same style tricks women have.”

Equmen’s T-shirts first will be available to consumers on equmen.com on Jan. 10, with inventory warehoused in the U.S., the U.K. and Australia for next-day delivery. Starting in February, the line will hit a few retail stores, including Under U 4 Men in Seattle and Portland, Ore., as well as Kings Road Sporting Club in London.