December 28, 2007, - 4:08 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
On this site, I’ve chronicled many of the various women’s products that have been repackaged for men. There are women’s beauty products–moisturizer and exfoliator and anti-wrinkle cream. And now, there is that product all men have been waiting for: [Drum Roll] . . . the Man-Girdle.
Yes, it is now considered acceptable–in vogue–for a man to sport women’s underwear. For the man who wants to keep his girlish figure (Tom Brady 10 years from now, for example), Wacoal Holdings–maker of expensive bras and legwear for women–now has the “Ex Walker” a/k/a the Man Girdle. It’s in Japan now, but it’s coming soon to a store near you (and I predict it’s not long before Under Armour gets into the biz–it’s not that different from some of that gear made for athletics).
Transvestitism is the new black. Don’t men realize there’s a reason that G-I-R-L are most of the letters in girdle? Just askin’:
For decades, Wacoal Holdings, one of Japan’s largest makers of women’s underwear, has been selling girdles for women that promise to tuck in flabby tummies. Now, the company is starting to promote an unconventional companion product: a girdle for men.
Earlier this year, Wacoal launched a men’s girdle that touts its stomach-flattening ability. In January, it expects to start selling a version that goes a step further. The stretchy underwear, called the “ex walker,” is made of specially woven nylon and polyurethane that the company says is designed to actually tone the thighs and hips, not just hold them in shape temporarily.
Ex walker’s pitch: A step toward slimmer you.
Wacoal recently ran a full-page ad in the Nikkei, Japan’s biggest economic newspaper, describing the ex walker as a health-promoting product, complete with statements from a physician who says the underwear helps reduce body fat. [DS: Riiight.] It has produced promotional DVDs filled with details about how the girdle forces people to take longer strides when they walk, which consumes more energy. It has started distributing the promotional material to corporate health-insurance groups and sports gyms, where the product will be sold initially. Starting in April, the girdles also will be sold in department stores. . . .
Wacoal saw an opportunity for its girdle but knew it had to tread carefully. The company decided not to even mention the word “girdle,” for fear it would scare men away. And because men tend to be interested in how a product works, the company filled promotional material with details such as how the material in the underwear is woven. The weave exerts more tension on the front of the thighs, which forces the knees to stretch more, lengthens each stride and forces the leg to kick back. This way of walking makes the hip and thigh muscles work harder, and thus the wearer burns more energy, the company says.
“This is not a girdle, but exercise wear,” stresses Wacoal spokesman Tadashi Nishitani. “We’re trying to promote this as a health-supporting tool.” Wacoal plans to package the ex walker with a DVD explaining the correct way to walk while wearing the underwear. . . .
Wacoal hopes to sell a modest 600 million yen ($5.2 million) of the ex walker for both men and women for the fiscal year ending March 2010. The company says it expects the men’s version to sell more than the women’s.
While Wacoal is targeting middle-age men, other companies have been selling girdles to fashion-conscious younger men. The Japanese operation of Triumph International, a Swiss-based lingerie maker, launched a girdle for men two years ago, and it was soon featured in fashion magazines. The product was a minor hit among young men wearing slim pants, though sales have declined recently.
So, now they need a spokesmodel. I nominate: George Costanza, Joe Namath (a natural progression from the panty hose phase), or John Edwards.
Tags: athletics, beauty products, corporate health-insurance groups, economic newspaper, energy, fashion magazines, George Costanza, health-promoting product, health-supporting tool, Japan, Joe Namath, John Edwards, JPY, lingerie maker, Nikkei, physician, spokesman, sports gyms, Tadashi Nishitani, Tom Brady, Triumph International, unconventional companion product, USD, Wacoal Holdings, Walker