Why Venture Capitalists Are Paying $4 Million for Boxers
The future of underwear is slightly better underwear.
The reason that Mack Weldon, a 3-year-old, New York-based company that manufactures undershirts and underwear for men, just received $4 million in funding from three prominent venture capital firms is, unlike most men’s underwear, twofold. The primary reason is that the company’s products are extremely comfortable. Then there is the fact that most men don’t really have underwear purchasing habits. Taking on entrenched underwear companies (think: Fruit of the Loom and Hanes) is made considerably easier by the fact that name recognition and brand loyalty don’t run hand in hand in this specific corner of the men’s market. Guy’s just grab those plastic bags of underthings and head to checkout.
Big money is betting that they can be convinced to order higher quality garments instead.
The reason this is good news for men has to do with, well, brands. Mack Weldon has a name because writing this article would be very difficult if it didn’t, but it’s not invested in it’s own branding. To the contrary, Mack Weldon makes an excellent simple product while reducing overhead by not attempting to convince anyone that their product is excellent or simple. It is what it is. Buy a pair and – if you like them – buy another pair. This is the anti-fashion business model, which works here because underwear is a technical garment. Form needs to follow function when it comes to cuppage and form doesn’t even suffer for being secondary. Underwear is what it is and venture capitalists are betting they can make a mint by letting it be then simply backing away.
Similar attempts have been made to simplify oxford shirts (Hugh & Crye), jeans (Gustin), and brogues (Jack Erwin), but Mack Weldon seems especially promising because it gets to the core issue: We don’t care who made our underwear. We just want to be comfortable. Consider that a $4-million insight.