The biggest player in the men’s underwear market is taking the slim-fit trend in men’s wear seriously.

This story first appeared in the May 10, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Hanes, the flagship brand of Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Hanesbrands Inc., has introduced for fall the Power Slim Fit Tee, a crew-neck undershirt which, taking a cue from the growth of women’s shapewear, is being touted as giving definition to the male torso using “power compression” construction in a blend of 86 percent cotton and 14 percent spandex.

Hilton Graham, senior brand manager for Hanes, noted that there’s a tendency to refer to the new item as “Spanx for men,” but that the impetus came from elsewhere. “There’s a whole change in silhouette in men’s,” he told WWD. “Suits, jackets, pants and jeans are moving towards a closer-fitting silhouette and that does translate into an opportunity for us.”

Hanes earlier addressed that opportunity with the Slim Fit Tee, available in its “ComfortBlend” of 50 percent ring-spun cotton and 50 percent polyester. The new model, available only in white to start with a retail price of $20 for a two-pack, adds stretch and a longer body to the slim-fit proposition.

The direction is consistent with Hanesbrands’ corporate strategy, laid out in recent presentations to investors and analysts, to “not only be number one in every category in which we compete, but to be number one in ever subcategory, and at every account.” Hanes enjoys unit market share leadership in men’s underwear and socks and women’s bras, panties and sheer hosiery, according to figures reported by Hanesbrands from data compiled by The NPD Group.

Another key element of Hanes’ product assortment is its move to go “tagless” in its underpants for men as it has for the past decade in undershirts. It’s being promoted in a new series of ads, debuting on May 28, featuring longtime celebrity spokesman Michael Jordan and the closing phrase “Tags are annoying. So we got rid of them.”

Graham shared details about the company’s new ComfortBlend EcoSmart Tee, made from 95 percent cotton and 5 percent polyester, the latter derived from recycled plastic bottles. Hanesbrands’ overall involvement with EcoSmart, also used in socks and fleecewear, is expected to keep 57 million plastic bottles a year from winding up in landfills.

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