Premium innerwear maker 2xist is the first established brand to support an unexpected trend in the underwear market: shapewear for men.

This story first appeared in the May 28, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Hitting brick-and-mortar and online stores in August, 2xist’s four-sku range, called Form, consists of brief and trunk styles equipped with a 6-inch elastic waistband designed to give the wearer a sleek appearance.

“It targets an area that most men typically have trouble with and can whittle the waist two whole inches,” said Jason Scarlatti, 2xist’s creative director.

An innerwear brand with a fashion bent, 2xist launches new collections nearly every season, but Form marks a departure for the company, whose sleek, colorful briefs are marketed to men who are already in good physical condition.

“Not everyone is shaped like the guy on the box,” Scarlatti explained. “This is for an aspirational customer; it’s a stepping stone.”

The brand may be the biggest name in this niche market, but not the first. Late last year, an Australian company called Equmen launched a collection of body-slimming T-shirts and briefs for men. This past winter, a Houston-based line called Sculptees hit the market with a collection of attenuating tanks, crew T-shirts and boxer briefs.

Male shapewear, Scarlatti explained, is fueled by both the increasingly body-conscious styles in men’s wear and the parallel success of shapewear in the women’s market. The latter is best represented by Spanx, the Atlanta-based company whose body shapers for women ring up $350 million at retail.

Not to be scooped by the competition, Spanx is planning its own range of men’s shapewear, which will debut later this year, according to a company spokesman.

The brand 2xist is not expecting those kinds of figures, but the company said Form speaks to the growing breadth of the men’s innerwear business.

“There are these shows about weight loss and getting fit these days,” Scarlatti said. “This is a way of getting in touch with that need in the market.”