Here’s a complaint we hear frequently: women’s underwear is too feminine, too fashion-centric, not comfortable enough.
The sentiment is widespread enough it’s spawned a trend in new minimalist lingerie labels.
And some women, who don’t find much on the market that suits their taste, secretly covet men’s underwear — functional, dependable, comfortable and still capable of making a statement, fashion or otherwise, thanks to those wide elastic waistbands suitable for sloganeering.
Soon, though, you can expect to start seeing waistband logos peeking above women’s jeans too, thanks to BoiBums, a Seattle startup that makes women’s briefs inspired by traditional men’s jockeys.
The concept sounds a bit counterintuitive (BoiBums even includes the Y-front fly found in men’s underwear) until you consider the target audience — the masculine end of the lesbian community.
“BoiBums is especially excited to serve two underserved markets: masculine/tomboy/butch women, and plus-size women,” co-founder Betsy Bruce told Lingerie Talk. “We passionately insist that our product stay true to these two markets. There are plenty of girly fashions and frilly underwear styles out there already.”
BoiBums‘ signature hipster brief incorporates many of the design features of high-end men’s underwear, including the color-block styling, snug fit and stretchy cotton blend, but is tailored for women’s curves. It comes in four colors and in sizes up to 3XL.
Marketing the new brand became a bit tricky, however, when BoiBums started attracting fans among straight women, too.
“At first we thought our product would appeal mostly to lesbians, but as we spoke with our straight friends many told us that they stole their husband’s or boyfriend’s underwear, especially to wear around the house,” Betsy said.
“We were really surprised! This bit of information initially confused our marketing strategy and we ended up alienating our core market of lesbians and butch women by mentioning our discovery.”
Now, as BoiBums prepares to launch its brand, the company is focused on serving its core audience.
“We plan on marketing to the lesbian community and knowing that our friends, allies, and those who move across the gender and sexual spectrums without being defined will find us” Betsy said.
“As we talk to customers it’s very clear when they get what we are trying to do and when they don’t. We’ve spoken to lesbians, particularly more feminine lesbians, who wouldn’t wear our product and then others who love them.”
Betsy and partner Dana Joy have professional backgrounds in corporate training and health coaching, and have been involved in other business ventures in the past. Their first foray into the apparel industry was the result of their frustration in shopping for underwear that matched their tastes and lifestyle.
“I want to wear clothing that represents who I am and is reflective of my definition of sexy,” said Joy, who admits to buying men’s underwear for herself in the past.
“We mostly come to this business as lifelong underwear wearers,” noted Betsy. “We know what WE like and we haven’t found it on the market so we decided to make it ourselves.”
BoiBums launched a Kickstarter campaign last month to raise startup capital for their first locally-made production order.
So far, it’s raised more than $10,000 from 120 backers and attracted numerous wholesale inquiries as well. The campaign ends this Thursday but the team will press ahead with its first collection even if it is unsuccessful in reaching its $20,000 crowdfunding goal, Betsy said.
“We feel validated enough by the interest our campaign to self-fund the project,” she said. “We are moving forward no matter what.”
And the early buzz around BoiBums created interest from another unexpected market demo: men.
“We hadn’t really thought of doing a men’s line, but so many of our male friends have asked that we might consider it,” Betsy said.
“First things first, though.”
Once the Kickstarter campaign wraps up and BoiBums begins filling orders, it will begin selling through its website and, eventually, through specialty boutiques serving the LGBT/alternative market. Keep checking their website and Facebook page for new developments.