Like guyliner and Justin Bieber, men have a track record of stealing things previously only held dear by the fairer sex. But one of the most unlikely items to try to make the jump across genders is lingerie.
Homme Mystere, an Australian underwear company founded two years ago by Queensland entrepreneur Brent Krause, caters exclusively for men. “It started initially as an underwear business for guys that incorporated fabrics and accessories normally associated with women’s lingerie,” says Krause.
“The plan was to manufacture colorful and comfortable briefs with a fun touch – underwear that was different to the products and styles available to men at that time.”
The briefs, which are sold for anywhere between £12 and £25, proved successful when they launched in 2014, leading Krause to expand his product line.
“It was only through customer feedback that we expanded into more feminine lines to include bras and larger pieces of lingerie. Once we started along that path, we found there was increasing demand for those styles,” says the businessman.
“Full briefs are certainly our best seller,” continues Krause, who also reveals that a survey last year surprisingly showed that over 90 per cent of Homme Mystere customers are in heterosexual relationships.
Responding to detractors in the past, who branded the ‘mangerie’ homosexual, Krause said: “For some reason, many people still seem to think that Homme Mystere lingerie for men is a gay thing. Clearly this insinuates that all gay guys are effeminate and love to be the ‘girl’ in the relationship. If that was indeed correct, and all gay guys were actually wannabe girls, wouldn’t that make all gay guy couples lesbians?”
Krause is fascinated by male buying patterns; he says that some products sell much quicker than others.
“The Anneve panty is the current best seller. And, interestingly, it was particularly popular in the lead up to Valentine’s Day this year.
“The United States is our largest market, followed closely by the UK. However, we have customers all around the world – from South Africa to Iceland, the Middle East, Japan and right across North and South America.
Bras cost anywhere between £12 and £30 depending on how fancy you want to go, and Krause says that this assortment is one of the reasons his buyers keep coming back.
“Reaction to the business overall is very positive,” says Krause on the feedback from his customers.
“Generally people recognize that we are providing a quality item to meet demand in a niche market. And, once the initial shock wears off, I have found people are quite supportive and interested in what we’re selling.”
“Social media these days can obviously generate negative feedback without consequences, so we do see a bit from time to time – but that’s the same in any industry.
“I can happily ignore that kind of feedback in the knowledge that I’m doing something that I enjoy and creating something for appreciative customers.”
Krause says that his designs – that now include babydolls, teddies and camisoles – are often inspired by customer feedback.
“Many of the styles are generated by input from customers, results of our surveys and whatever I feel like making on the day.
“I think guys are really just looking for the same thing as women – colorful and fancy underwear.”
“If it’s comfortable but also looks great and, more importantly, makes you feel great when you wear it, what’s not to like?
“In terms of specific style, our guys tend towards full-bum briefs for everyday use, and then choose lingerie styles such as teddies for lounging around the house.”
Krause, whose family support his business, hopes that he can continue adding new lines and styles in the future.
“We are just coming up towards our seventh birthday and with growth still going strong I expect many more birthdays to follow!”