I met Jerrad and Todd in February of last year in Vegas at Project where we get to see all the new trends in men’s underwear. I was really excited to meet them because I had heard a lot about their new company, Underwear Nation, and wanted to learn more about how they got the idea to start an underwear retailer. We sat down in the luxe Cosmopolitan after the underwear show and talked. Underwear Nation is always a topic of conversation on the underwear scene! If you aren’t familiar with the online store I am sure you know their amazing photography that seems to pop up all over the Internet.
I started our conversation by asking them how Underwear Nation got its start. As it turns out, Jerrad and Todd were acquaintances from over 15 years ago that parted ways after meeting at a random party. Jerrad was leaving to dance on a cruse ship, and Todd was moving to Chicago to pursue his business career. Several years later Todd was combing the Internet for hot guys and saw Jerrad’s work on a blog. After rekindling their friendship, Todd hired him to do a photo shoot for a bar he was working at in Madison. The rest is history!
Both fans of (hot guys in) underwear they talked about how they wanted to do something in industry. “We had a great brand name in Underwear Nation. And we wanted to create a solid business plan that would surge into the Men’s Underwear industry and set us apart.” Todd and Jerrad launched Underwear Nation as an Underwear of the Month Club where members would get a pair of briefs, boxer briefs or jockstraps every month. In addition, they wanted to provide a curated retail experience with great editorial content such as Jerrad’s original photography every month. As UN has evolved they have begun releasing new men’s underwear product lines through a monthly Issue with a themed photo shoot such as the very popular Varsity series set in the locker room featuring Timoteo.
As they have grown over the past 18 months, like most entrepreneurs, Todd and Jerrad have had some challenges along the way. Jerrad mentioned “the constant deadlines of a small team that create a lot of creative pressure for us.” And being an online retailer has presented lots of issues as the company continues to grow. “Sometimes we have to stop everything and work on technical issues…things that necessarily aren’t our strength, but are important for the growth and viability of the company,” Todd said.
I asked the team at Underwear Nation what surprised them as an Internet retailer. They mentioned how awesome it was to have a global customer base, and how cool it was to get orders from everywhere from Australia to Israel. And with the global presence, Jerrad and Todd are eager to see the company grow and expand to become one of the largest underwear retailers on the Internet. Todd added, “Not only do we want to continue to improve our curated product selection in our store, but we also want to continue to engage our customers in new and interesting ways.” At Underwear News Briefs we know it will be amazing and I can’t wait to see the progress!
We asked them why they started the brand. Both creators, Mauricio Sepúlveda and Jed Skeen, are lovers of the beach and swim briefs. Mauricio, years ago, toyed with the idea of designing swimwear. Years later, in spring of 2013, Mauricio aka Mao and Jed, did just that. After researching, traveling the world for textile samples, and making prototypes, they both eventually created the logo and branding for Aronik (pronounced similar to Ironic). They started with local tailors to make sample prototypes using themselves and friends to get the right fit. Soon they jumped on production and decided that they were going to launch slowly as they were entering cold Autumn.
Mauricio networked to find models and photographers that would represent Aronik best. His top pick for model, José Ruiz, and photographer Jorge Freire were the perfect match that eventually landed the September 2013 cover for DNA Magazine Australia. Since then it’s been business at full speed.
Both Mauricio and Jed live in Salt Lake City, Utah and are former mormon missionaries (no longer affiliated). Utah, known as the ‘Beehive State’, served as part of the inspiration for the company name, the honey bee logo, and corporate image. Much of their design reflects the beauty and inspiration from Utah.
Throughout history, the honeybee has symbolized opulence and diligence. French emperor Napoleon used the bee as a symbol of his empire. This inspired Mauricio to share that same concept in Aronik with high-end fabrics and craftsmanship. People have loved the signature bee logo seen on various prints and can look forward to more.
Thanks to the cover on DNA magazine, they’ve gained massive exposure and began selling to orders from all over the world. With their second collection they are poised to grow the brand and reach out to more enthusiasts. Their product is designed in the US and manufactured in Colombia, known for their high quality in textiles.
They have some big plans coming up and we wills hare them with you as they announce them. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest @ Aronikswim or www.aronikswim.com
This pic we enter last year. This was the new 2(X)ist swimwear at the time. Which will be released soon as this is from August! So be on the look out
Cocksox® is an Australian men’s underwear and swimwear company that make everything from long johns to super sexy thongs! All Cocksox® have one thing in common: an anatomically designed pouch to lift and support a man’s ‘manhood’. The Cocksox® pouch provides supreme comfort, support and an enhanced profile. Cocksox® do for men what the push-up bra does for women!
The Cocksox® pouch design is also suitable for highly active men. Many tri-athletes, cyclists, runners and swimmers wear Cocksox® because the pouch gives support like a jockstrap without being constrictive or bulky.
Guys give undies a hard time so Cocksox® underwear are made using the highest quality modern fabrics (Lycra®, Supplex® & Cotton-Lycra). They are hypo-allergenic, fast wicking, long lasting and have excellent shape retention.
Cocksox® swimwear is made from superior quality Lycra with high chlorine resistance, excellent wear properties and SPF 50+ sun protection.
All sorts of guys from all over the world buy Cocksox®, a lot of them being middle and upper income earners who appreciate the high quality design, quality manufacture and the good price point. Cocksox® customers include doctors, dentists, pilots, athletes, military personnel, celebrities, strippers, sheiks, swimmers, cyclists, clergymen and regular guys who like to go about their regular day with asexy secret in their trousers!
Some guys buy Cocksox® just for the fun name but are genuinely amazed by how comfortable and supportive they are and come back for more, and more! There are even Cocksox® customers who’ve thrown out all other underwear brands and only wear Cocksox®! One man requested custom made Cocksox® for his wedding night – we were happy to oblige.
From what started as a rude dare, Cocksox® has grown into a brand exported to almost every country on Earth. Retail stores in USA, UK, Europe, Asia and Australia sell Cocksox® and the number is growing all the time.
Who’s behind the brand:
Nadiah Christensen has been working in the apparel industry for 15 years and her garment designs and prints have featured at international fashion shows including Lyon Mode City and Salon International de la Lingerie de Paris.
Nigel Christensen, who is also a film producer, is the brains behind the provocative Cocksox® marketing campaigns.
Early in 2006 Nadiah, saw a need in the men’s underwear and swimwear market for high quality, sexy designs with enhancing qualities.
Running the concept past her partner, Nigel Christensen, he thought of the name Cocksox®! At first it seemed too rude but it was the perfect name for the garments and the attitude they embodied;
Sexy, provocative and fun!
In March 2006 they released the first Cocksox® ‘no rings, no slings’ enhancing underwear, triggering a revolution in men’s underwear around the world.
From humble beginnings Cocksox® now appears in international magazines, morning TV in England, movies and is currently in negotiations with pro athletes and pop stars for endorsement and marketing deals.
There is nothing that brings more curiosity from you guys when get a chance to talk to you one on one, either via email or in person, than my trips to Vegas to see the the brands new collections. It’s always a big topic of conversation and I’m more than happy to talk about it.
First all, I have fallen in love with Vegas after going for 4 years. The food, the city and everything about it. I have some favorite spots I go to every time and I always try to find new spots. Some of the spots I love are: Cafe Gelato at the Bellagio, Gordon Ramsey Burgr at Planet Hollywood, Mermaids Casino in old vegas for Deep Fried Twinkies, Yes I said it, it’s not conducive to wearing great undies but sure is good! If you go to Vegas and want some recommendations hit me up!
But enough about the food and such. Let’s talk about what happens when I go to Vegas:
Pre Planning -
Both magic and Curve have lists of what brands are showcasing. So I usually go through and create a spreadsheet of who I need to see. Which did me great until the show last year when I lost my program of Magic that had my list in it. I frantically looked for it but to no avail. Going forward I have put it on my computer/ipad/phone and printed out extra copies. This gives me a great idea of how many people I need to see. However, there are always new brands to see. I will find out a company that was supposed to show isn’t or will hear from others about new brands is showing. Also, not every brand is listed in the online guide and some are listed under parent companies and not the names.
Day 1: Curve/Magic
The first day I usually split my time between Curve in the morning and Magic in the afternoon. I trek up to the Venetian to Curve and get my credentials. When I first started going Curve had about 15 men’s brands. Over the years it has slowed down and its anywhere from 3-5 brands now. So I usually go from about 9 am till about 12-1 PM. I get in and sit down with the brands and go over whats new with each brand. On the way back down to the Mandalay Bay I grab lunch. Lunch is usually Secrets Pizza at the Cosmopolitan which is preceded by Gelato at Cafe Gelato in the Bellagio. Then head over to the Mandalay bay convention center get my credentials and have 1-2 meetings in the afternoon. The first day is usually so busy I don’t get many people in.
When I sit down with brands I get to see the new collections. I get walked through whats new, whats hot and look through the catalogue. I get to ask questions and find out more about the line. Its easier to do it right there. Sometimes they have a model to show me the line other times it’s just being shown through the racks and racks of amazing undies. These meetings last from 20 mins to an hour. I usually have over 30 brands to meet up with.
In February we usually have a Meet and Greet with the brand hosted by UNB. it’s a grew time for brands and retailers to come hang out in a social environment. This has led to me getting to know some of the people win the industry and become good friends with them. I look forward to this but due to the brands schedules not everyone can make it. This is because they have dinners they must go to. My favorite Meet and Greet went till 3 AM! Ask me about that one.
Typical Day is:
- 8:30 – leave the hotel for Venetian
- 9:00 – Arrive at Venetian and get credentials
- 9:15 – 12:00 – Meet with Brands
- 12:00 – 12:45 sit down and grab lunch
- 1:00 – Go to Cafe Gelato (I gotta take a break)
- 2:00 – leave for Mandalay bay
- 2:30 – arrive at Mandalay bay and walk to the convention center
- 2:45 – get credentials
- 3:00 – walk around and say howdy to people
- 4:00 – 6:00 pm – meet with brands
- 7:30 – UNB Meet and Greet till when ever
Day 2: Magic
Day two is kind of a hybrid for me. I am at Magic all day but don’t spend all day there. There are always brands that are in Vegas but not at Magic. They get suites in the Mandalay Bay and I go up to the suite to meet them and see the lines. Most of these have models and many of the videos we have done were done in suits. Which I’m still trying to figure out lighting in suites. So it’s a lot of walking back and forth. The walk way from the hotel to the convention center is crazy long. This year I’m getting a pedometer to see how much I walk. This time at Magic it’s on one level. Which for me is a good thing it cuts my walking down. I’m not as tired. In most Aug shows its both levels of the Mandalay Bay convention center and by the ned of the day I”m done! I try to meet with as many brands as I can in that time frame. Its usually meet with 10-14 brands.
- 8:45 – Leave hotel for Convention center
- 9:00 – meet with brands (usually anywhere from 2 brands)
- 10:30 – meet with brand in suite
- 11:30 – back to the Convention center to meet with brands
- 12:30 – take lunch double check schedule
- 1:00-6 Pm – meet with brands (usually 5-10
Day 3: Magic
This day is a lot more laid back. The dress of everyone is casual. The first day is dress up and then the last day is jeans and t shirts. Although, I looked at myself and decided to step up my dress. So I”ll be wearing good stuff every day! Or trying too. This is the day I meet with most of the brands. It’s a lighter day for most brands and they have less scheduled so I can get in! I get the rest of the 15 brands. You maybe asking who do I see? Well they include: Frank Dandy, Timoteo, Clever, Pikante, PPU, Clever, Vuthy, Xtremen, Zylas, Gregg Homme, Junk Underjeans, Skmpeez, Papi, Andrew Christian, 2(X)ist, Baskit, C-IN2, Go Softwear, Jor, Private Structure, James Tudor, Naked Underwear, Wood Underwear, Manus Swimwear, Cocksox, Pistol Pete, and more that I can’t remember.
At the end of the day everyone breaks down to go home. It always makes me a little sad to see the end of the show. Just such
great people are in the men’s underwear market and it’s so much fun to be around them for a few days. Its one thing to talk on the phone or via emial but the face to face interaction is priceless.
- 8:45 – leave for convention Center
- 9:00-11:30 – meet with brands
- 11:30 – 12:00 Lunch
- 12:00 – 4:00 meet with brands
- 4:00- 5:00 Hang out and say good bye to brands
This is just a quick overview of what I’m doing while in Vegas this week! Watch Instagram for more. While there the cell network is nonexistent so it will be most nights or in the morning when i will post.
This is a picture from 2012 when Jam was at Curve. Now they tend to be at Magic. We have reviewed some of their undies and hope you check them out!
We all love hearing stories on how companies got their start. This one is about one of the wildest companies on the market. Koala is synonymous for fetish/erotic wear! They are the top of every list we get. It spans every market and every type of guy. I got a chance to talk to Michael the owner about how the company started and here is their story.
Koala started over 20 years ago because Michael the owner couldn’t get the swimwear he wanted. The styles he had in mind were not available from anyone on the market. This made him start having his swimwear custom made. While laying out in them he asked himself if other guys would like them? We definitely know the answer to that question.
He was a bit apprehensive about being able to create a business in swimwear. This was in the 90’s and men’s swimwear wasn’t as big as it is now. He got some designs made and started asking guys if they liked them. As it turns out many guys wanted the swimwear. He started Koala and it grew.
The basic premise of the company was he wanted really hot swimwear for the beach and that progressed into underwear and finally fetish wear. Like many underwear companies it first hit the gay market but grew. Now the brand is sold to men and women, gay and straight.
Some of the biggest challenges over the year are having the quality of the product that he expected. Going from making custom made items to mass production was a bit different then producing just a few suits. He tried over seas sourcing and wasn’t happy with the results. If they couldn’t make them in LA and have control he would rather not do it. He expected the quality to be amazing and the craftsmanship be top notch. So today the manufacturing is done in the US in the LA area.
Koala has a lot of the same people working today as they did when they opened. All the seamstresses, pattern makers and production crew. They tried going back over seas after a few years with samples, but they weren’t spectacular. However, they decided to keep production in LA. He said he loves working with the same people over the years because when a new idea comes into mind it’s easy to have the staff know exactly what you are thinking and makes for a great product.
I asked what the biggest surprise was in starting and running the company. Variety and types of customers. He loves underwear and swimwear like the rest of us. But not knowing if there were other guys out there who are into the scene. He was surprised at how big the community turned out to be. It includes women and men, both gay and straight men.
Guys have a lot of catching up to do in the women’s market. Women are willing to show each other underwear. They wear g-string to the locker room. Size and shape doesn’t matter. It’s totally second nature. It hasn’t evolved that way to the men’s market. We see more varied underwear styles at the gym now but not many guys wear them. They don’t wear thongs and g-strings. Women have no issues. If men think it would be ok they would be into wearing them in a minute. They would wear what ever.
Best sellers over the years: What styles are best selling are the Cock shaped suits as a group, Also the Male Transformation ones. Tons of guys wear them as underwear. They always call and ask if it will make them look feminine. Usually when they buy them they become a fetish item for them.
We want to thank everyone who nominated and voted in the 1st Annual UNB Reader Awards. It was a lot of fun to do and thank the brands that really got the word out. You have a year off till the next one! But you spoke and here are the winners of the 2014 UNB Reader Awards.
Some of the votes were really close and it went right to the wire! All the pairs nominated were awesome pairs so you can’t go wrong with any of them. It was cool to see some new brands you guys love and some standards.
The Winners are:
Best Bikini – Cocksox CX16 Waistband Bikini
Best Brief 2(X)ist Sliq Mesh Brief
Best Thong - Andrew Christian Almost Naked Smooth Vive Spider Thong
Best Jock - Andrew Christian Coolflex Active Jock
Best Jock Brief - Andrew Christian Airsculpt Locker Room Jock
Best Trunk - Timoteo Rugby Scout Square Cut Brief
Best Boxer Brief - Andrew Christian Color Vibe Boxer
Best Fetish Wear Brand – Cellblock13
Best Swimwear Brand – Andrew Christian
Best Overall Brand for 2013 – Andrew Christian
Best Online Retailer – Underwear Nation
Best Brick and Mortar Store – Andrew Christian Flagship Boutique
Best Underwear Model – Colby Melvin
Best Photographer – Jerrad Matthew
These are our winners!
Junk UnderJeans is a great brand we talk to every time I go to Vegas. They have really broadened as a brand and have some amazing undies each time I see them.
It all started when I was just five years old and living with my family in a village in northern Greece. Believe it or not, I made a simple pair of briefs that I stitched together from an old piece of knitted fabric. I remember my family being not very comfortable, but I was really proud!
It’s a strange story, but it was more like the male underwear and male fashion industry coming to me (smiles). I never really dreamed of being a part of it (another smile). I just felt inspired to create designs and then happened to find the right way to bring my creations to life!
The idea of Modus Vivendi for me started with the desire to clothe the male body, cleverly and with style. I felt inspired to create designs. I used to create underwear for my friends and family. Everyone was so encouraging that I should start my own fashion label and everything came together in 1989.
Modus Vivendi has been around for 25 years. We started in 1989 and quickly became one of the biggest underwear brands in Greece, but it was only in the last three or four years that we began showing the brand in other countries. It’s great to see how far we’ve managed to go on the global market in such a short time. It’s amazing how the brand has picked up so many fans and followers around the world.
I never had any contacts in the fashion industry, so I had to learn things the hard way. It was more the practical things of a business though than anything else. I feel very lucky that I was always able to get inspired by everything around me. Living in Greece, surrounded by its beautiful landscapes and people is an unlimited source of energy and inspiration.
Christos Bibitsos, Head designer and owner of Modus Vivendi