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Taboo-busting online retailer launches leak-proof underwear for men

Since launching in 2014, leak-proof underwear brand Modibodi has worked hard to spread the message that women shouldn’t feel embarrassed about normal bodily functions like periods, incontinence, breast milk leaks and perspiration.

Now it hopes to do the same for men, with the launch of MO, its new range of moisture-wicking underwear for men, designed to manage daily incontinence and sweat.

“It has been created to look just like regular underwear to give men dignity, comfort and to stay dry, while also providing an alternative to disposable pads, or nappies, and in turn do better for the environment,” Kristy Chong, Modibodi founder and CEO, told Inside Retail.

Like the brand’s core range of leak- and period-proof underwear for women, and Red, its range for teens, MO makes use of Modibodi’s patented Modifier Technology to absorb leaks without leaving behind a damp feeling or smell.

While this seems like a natural extension of the so-called ‘period underwear’ market, Modibodi is one of the few brands that has broadened its pool of potential customers by making the jump to men. 

One reason for this may be that period underwear – underwear that can be worn to complement or replace tampons, pads and liners during menstruation – itself is a relatively new concept. 

The biggest player in the space, US-based brand Thinx, launched in 2013. It and most other brands operate online only, making it hard to reach new customers and get them to trust that the products work.

But this is beginning to change. Consumer goods giant Kimberly-Clark recently invested US$25 million in Thinx, and private equity firm Quadrant Growth Fund injected an undisclosed sum in Modibodi in September.

Part of investors’ growing interest in this market can be explained by the sustainable nature of reusable period underwear. Brands like Thinx and Modibodi stress the fact that their products keep millions of disposable tampons, pads and liners out of landfills, which may appeal to the growing contingent of environmentally-conscious consumers.

This is true for MO as well, since the majority of incontinence products available today are disposable.

“Most importantly, the underwear is super comfortable and saves the planet from disposable alternatives,” Chong said. 

But reaching a mass audience remains a challenge for brands like Modibodi, which is why the online retailer this week launched its first ever pop-up. 

The store, which is made entirely out of recycled, upcycled and biodegradable materials, is based in Chadstone shopping centre from October 28-November 3, Indooroopilly shopping centre in Brisbane from November 5-10 and finally lands at Macquarie shopping centre in Sydney from November 11-17 to coincide with National Recycling Week.

“We know that for many new customers, trusting that Modibodi isn’t going to leak can be daunting so we’ve created a community of customer ambassadors to be at the pop-ups for this reason, to talk honestly and openly about their journey and experiences with Modibodi,” Chong said.

According to Chong, the company currently is focused on growing through e-commerce, but a permanent bricks-and-mortar store isn’t off the table.

“We never say never,” she said.

Modibodi has a presence in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, US and Europe. Now offering swimwear, activewear and singlets, in addition to underwear, it has sold over 1.5 million garments to over 250,000 customers around the world.

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