(Filed Under wholesale Men's Underwear News). BODY publisher, Nick Monjo first met Terresa Zimmerman, CEO and founder Wood Underwear, as she launched her brand at a Las Vegas trade show. Since then the company has grown steadily. Here she explains how the company developed and where it’s going next.
MONJO: When did Wood launch? How big was the collection back then?
ZIMMERMAN: Wood launched in 2012. We came out with one style in four colors. I literally walked into stores and asked if I could show the buyer my underwear. I learned a lot. After that first run, I changed everything - fabric, packaging, manufacturer, waistband, everything. Some of those customers are still my best customers today. They gave me a shot when I really didn’t know what I was doing. They mean a lot to me.
MONJO: What is the concept behind the brand? Has it evolved over the years?
ZIMMERMAN: We developed Wood because there was a need for it in the market. At the time there were not many great options for men. The brand intention was about giving men affordable luxury in a category they really didn’t think much about. We had to grab their attention, so yes, we’re having fun with the name, and that’s where it starts. We promoted Wood that first summer out on the beach in southern California (yes, we were out of our minds) at all kinds of beach sports. Underwear and basics are foundational. So is health, lifestyle and sustainability. From there, we continued with fun and a little irreverence. We keep it on the sexy side of sex. And, we stay away from novelty and fad. Those brand intentions have deepened and helped us keep our focus as we’ve extended and evolved through the years. The brand is definitely the fun, but it’s the product that brings people back. It’s the real deal.
MONJO: Who is the Wood consumer?
ZIMMERMAN: The Wood guy is at least a little fashion forward. Discerning. Willing to spend where he sees value. He’s aspirational in his fitness and lifestyle. He may not look like our models but he might have once and he may yet still get there…but it’s really less the actual look and more the aspiration and willingness to be out there. To want things for himself, to be bold for himself in whatever he wants to do and achieve and be.
MONJO: What kinds of stores do you sell? What is the advantage to stores in selling your line?
ZIMMERMAN: Wood is focused on specialty stores. We love the independents and main street. They are the lifeblood of neighborhoods. It’s about the relationships they have with their customers and communities. There is strength there. And in a lot of places, it’s multi-generational. Pretty awesome.
MONJO: How has the men’s underwear market changed since you launched?
ZIMMERMAN: It’s hard for me to say how it’s changed since it was all completely new for me eight years ago. So I don’t know how much I was just learning the industry and opening my eyes to it versus how much it was changing. What I know is true (there are stats) is that the men’s basics categories have been the growth engine of men’s for about five years now, and that trend is continuing. Men’s underwear specifically seems to be coming into the light in the way socks did 15 years ago. Like socks, we’re seeing a greater willingness to explore color and prints and have a little fun with it, while staying functional.
MONJO: You have expanded since you launched; how many styles are you now selling?
ZIMMERMAN: We’ve extended our line with our customer demand and now have four basic bodies in underwear along with our most recent additions of a thong and jock strap. We really push the diversification of the underwear drawer. There is something to be learned from a woman’s underwear drawer - different styles, brands, colors, etc., for different functions, events, clothing, etc. Meaning your gym underwear is NOT your date night underwear. Your baggy woven boxer shorts are not for your skinny jeans. We talk about that and people are like ‘yah, that makes sense.’
MONJO: Can you describe and give the price points?
ZIMMERMAN: We’re a wholesale model so it’s all about the store and their customer. We price at a level the end customer feels value (MSRP starting at $24). We plan in good margin for our stores. And we buy so we can make money on that model. Everyone wins. It’s a partnership.
MONJO: How has the launch of your new mass brand been going? Can you mention the stores to which you are selling that brand.
ZIMMERMAN: We started Wood Works as a premium mass brand. Early signs are great. It’s at a $15.99 price point and at that price point there is nothing as special on the market. Wood Works will be special for each mass brand, meaning that we work with each retailer on specific color palettes and options selected for them. It’s currently on target.com.
MONJO: You always keep adding new fashion to your line. What’s behind that?
ZIMMERMAN: We have a core line we stock, of course. We bring in new fashion color-ways and prints twice a year. It keeps the line fresh, current and relevant to what consumers are responding to.
MONJO: What’s next from Wood?
ZIMMERMAN: We’re always looking for new things. And there are so many options. It’s exciting. I’m looking at some exciting new fabrics. The innovation in fabric out there is crazy cool. I’d bring in something new every week if I could. However, we’re also a small business that has to support itself. That constrains us a bit on what we can bring in and how fast. In a very good way, those constraints force us to focus. So, more immediately, we are bringing in a couple of new styles next year - a knit boxer short and also a tank style undershirt.
MONJO: Do you have any other comments about Wood and the men’s underwear market?
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