It took nearly 90 years, but Gold Toe is finally stepping out beyond socks — into men’s underwear.

This story first appeared in the June 28, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“A couple of years ago, we did brand extension research and found underwear was a natural for us,” said Trish McHale, executive vice president of merchandising for GoldToeMoretz. “Over 30 percent of consumers buy socks and underwear together — it’s a basic essential.”

The Gold Toe briefs, boxers and T-shirts sport classic styling and are available in preshrunk bright white 100 percent combed cotton with double-needle stitching. V-neck, crew or athletic tank Ts are available in white, black or gray heather. Woven boxers are offered in solid white or blue and assorted prints and plaids. In total, the line consists of 36 stockkeeping units and features a subtle “G” logo as a branding element.

They will be packaged as multiples, with two boxers retailing for $19.50, two boxer briefs or three briefs for $19, three Ts or V-neck shirts for $24 or three tank tops for $19. These price points put Gold Toe underwear into the premium end of the market for moderate department stores and national chains.

The product is expected to appeal to the “loyal Gold Toe user,” who is generally 35 to 55 years old, but the packaging and marketing imagery are targeted to “capture a 24-year-old” as well, McHale said.

Within stores, the line will be sold in the underwear section, which is usually adjacent to the sock area, she said. However, Gold Toe is talking to retailers to merchandise the items together, she added.

McHale declined to provide a volume projection for the collection, which will hit stores in July, but said there is a lot of opportunity because men’s underwear sales are roughly double that of men’s socks. “Underwear is a $3.1 billion category,” she said, adding sales are expected to be 40 to 50 percent of the sock business at the onset but should grow beyond that when other products are added down the line. “The extension of Gold Toe is wide open,” McHale said. “It will allow us to go into multiple categories.” Gold Toe socks also are offered for women and children, so that would be natural for the underwear, as well, she said.

McHale said Gold Toe, which is the number-one brand in socks in department stores, has not traditionally done a lot of marketing for that category, but for the underwear launch, the firm is working with a national consumer promotional company to run events in different retail locations. In-store signage also will be installed and there are plans for a national print campaign.

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