Bottoms up!

A new underwear store aims to revolutionize Israeli men's basic buying habits.

By ERICA CHERNOFSKY
October 15, 2006 13:28
4 minute read.
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bottoms up88. (photo credit: )

 
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For guys who have ever been envious of the enhancing attributes of push-up bras, MENZ stocks up on UNICO's "push-up" underwear for men It seems lingerie isn't just for women anymore. For all those men who have felt excluded from the world of sexy, sporty and comfy undergarments, rest assured - a new store has opened specifically with your needs in mind. "There are many retail shops for women's lingerie, so we thought why not open one for men? But we don't call it lingerie - that's a feminine word. For men, we call it underwear," explains Ofir Ben-Natan, co-founder of MENZ, the first underwear chain store for men in Israel. Together with his business partner Avner Haizler, Ben-Natan opened the first MENZ shop on Rehov Sheinkin this past May. The idea came to him upon returning home from a trip to Paris with his wife. "We were walking along Champs-Elysees Boulevard and I went inside the Gap, where they had these amazing American boxers with all kinds of designs on them," recalls Ben-Natan. "I bought three pairs, and that was the only thing I bought in Paris." Years later, when a friend was traveling to Paris, Ben-Natan jokingly commented that everything in Paris is too expensive and the only thing worth buying was the underwear. "Then I suddenly thought hey, maybe there's something special about this item," says Ben-Natan, who has no fashion training whatsoever. But after researching European men's underwear companies, he started selling men's underwear on the Internet, where Haizler came across his Web site. Today, the two share an office above their flagship store on Sheinkin, which boasts an array of men's boxers, briefs and thongs that could compete with Victoria's Secret, along with numerous other male necessities such as swimsuits, T-shirts, sweatpants and socks. Though the store produces its own line of merchandise in Israel, it also imports well-known European and South American men's underwear brands such as Hom and UNICO, which provide the selection with a flashier style, to say the least. For guys who have ever been envious of the enhancing attributes of push-up bras, MENZ stocks up on UNICO's "push-up" underwear for men (which Ben-Natan confesses are very popular), seamless underwear with unique "contours" to enhance your rear and for the laziest or most promiscuous guys, MENZ even has Hom's self-explanatory "easy access" underwear. "In Israel, this market is neglected," says Ben-Natan. "What's offered is only the basics - there's nothing new or exciting, nothing to write about. "When men go into a store and see the all the same black and white underwear, they buy it because they need it, not because it's fashionable," he continues. "We come with a different approach - underwear can be fashionable. It can make you feel attractive, sexy and comfortable all at once." While the two revolutionaries acknowledge that for men, cosiness remains far above style in clothing their nether regions, their selection proves that today's metrosexual man can have both. "The most important thing is comfort, and from there comes fashion - using different fabrics, different colors and different designs," says Ben-Natan, adding that both he and Haizler wear the underwear themselves, which they claim gives them the added advantage of knowing what feels, fits and looks the best. The man-friendly store has everything clearly arranged by size and brand, and while some of the underwear is a bit untraditional ( bright green, stripes and tight), classic Calvin Klein's are not absent from the shelves. All the underwear is made from a soft, comfortable cotton. But aside from the basic - and even not so basic - briefs, there are also luxurious items for the man who already has everything, from socks that have been enriched with Vitamin E or aloe vera to odorless socks, anti-fungal socks and extra comfortable business socks for the workplace. All designed to serve what Ben-Natan calls "the chic but mainstream self-aware man." Currently there are three MENZ shops nationally - two of which are in Tel Aviv and the third in Rishon Lezion - but their ultimate goal, says Ben-Natan, is to reach 25 stores in Israel within the next three to four years. In the long term, they'd even like to open stores abroad. "We want every man - and woman - to think of our shop as the place to buy men's underwear," says Ben-Natan. "We want that when a man opens his dresser drawer and can't find any socks without holes - which happens to all of us - he thinks to himself, okay, I need to go to MENZ." Taking men's underwear to a whole new level, MENZ confirms that the fight for equal rights has not escaped the lingerie arena. "You can buy rags," Ben-Natan warns, "but it's just not sexy." For the man who wants to look great even in the (nearly) buff, it is now worth spending money on men's undies.

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