NEW YORK - You won’t find truck drivers in the fantasy runway world of Victoria’s Secret or Dolce & Gabbana. But at the Tommy John Underwear company, fashion and glamour take a backseat to comfort.
"At the core of the brand is the three Fs: fabric, fit, and function," said Tommy John Co-Founder Erin Fujimoto.
"Comfort has been in our DNA since day one. What you’re seeing with consumers - I’m considered very dressed up in today's day and age for an office environment. I’m wearing sneakers. So I think comfort is a trend that’s not going away. We love all things comfort," said Tommy John Co-Founder Tom Patterson.
Tommy John has been in the undergarment business for 10 years, including eight headquartered here in the city. The husband and wife team started exclusively with products for men. Only in the last year and a half have they expanded to include a women’s line — a move that industry analysts say is critical.
"We had a long runway building the men’s side of the business, but then we started to hear from our female customers. So a lot of these women were buying products for men in their life, and they were writing us and asking us to make product for them," Fujimoto said.
“Traditionally women still make the major purchases in the household, even when it comes to underwear. As the woman is buying lingerie for themselves, they can also buy undergarments for their partners, or even match them in some cases," said Jharonni Martis, Director of Consumer Research at Refinitiv.
Whoever’s buying, they’d better be prepared to pay. Prices at Tommy John are significantly higher than some of its more established competitors.
“Consumers are willing to spend more to get more. Consumers are wanting less things, but more nice things. And they’re willing to invest more quality and comfort and longevity and durability," Patterson said.
Meanwhile, the old guard of high-end underwear has been struggling. Shares in Victoria’s Secret parent company L Brands have fallen 80 percent over the last three years.
"Victoria’s Secret in general has lost a lot of market share to a lot of different brands. There’s definitely been a shift in the marketplace about what sexy used to be when it comes to lingerie, and now going more to like using models that are more relatable to the consumer, and being more inclusive. The consumer wants something that is fun, comfortable, and for everybody, and that’s really resonating with the shoppers," Martis said.