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Underoos
 

Underoos


  Underoos
to the rescue
by Sarah McNeill
August 27, 2001

No, they’re not gone forever, although yours may be threadbare, banished to the attic with banana-seat bicycles and eight track tapes, or set out on the curb with the trash. Contrary to popular belief that this quirky brand is a forgotten relic of 70s Americana, Underoos are, in fact, still being sold across the US.

What are Underoos? They are “the underwear that’s fun to wear.” Fashioned as a t-shirt or tank top and a pair of briefs, featuring a super hero or cartoon character, the appeal of Underoos was never lost on a pre-teen kid.

 
 

A kid could immediately transform into his favorite super hero should an appropriate moment arise or just feel secure knowing that under that dopey outfit his mother made him wear, he was really Spiderman (or she was really Wonder Woman). Underoos made it sociably acceptable to run around in public in your underwear.

Produced by Fruit of the Loom and first available in 1978, Underoos were 100% polyester fabric and sported super heroes like Spiderman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, along with popular movie and TV characters such as Yoda, R2D2, the A Team, and the Dukes of Hazzard. Not to be left behind, so to speak, Underoos have adapted to the times and are now made with 100% cotton material and feature the old favorite characters along with newer idols like the Power Rangers.

Not surprisingly, Underoos’ major market is children and their parents but efforts are afoot to gain a new market in 2002. Clever marketers at Fruit of the Loom understand that the people who grew up wearing Underoos and buy them for their kids might be envious of the little ones’ options. So now, adults who have fond memories of being the Incredible Hulk or Princess Leia as children will have the opportunity to wear Underoos (that actually fit) again. All time favorites Batman and Superman adult Underoos will be on the shelves first. The only catch is that they are just for men. Fruit of the Loom is waiting to gauge public reception before adding a women’s line. That leaves women to either try to fit into a pair of men’s or children’s Underoos, or to start a letter writing campaign for women’s Underoos. Perhaps Wonder Woman can come to the rescue and battle for women deprived of their “funderwear.”

Fruit of the Loom is clearly hoping that nostalgia for Underoos will boost the new line of adult Underoos. The strengths lie in the clever idea, fun, descriptive name and the strength of brand recognition and trust in the parent company, Fruit of the Loom. But it’s unclear whether this will just be a novelty fad and in the end not worth the production and promotion.

In the meantime, the childhood association hasn’t been missed by others looking to cash in on the nostalgia factor while it lasts. Miss that snug polyester feel? No worries, you can find vintage polyester Underoos at online auction websites. Just be prepared to drop some cash; mint-condition Wonder Woman Underoos go for as much as US$70 (77 euros).

Fruit of the Loom were first to market with the underwear that’s fun to wear, and it’s likely they will keep the market booming for a long time to come. But we think they should think beyond kids and adults. After all, the market’s wide open in the kid’s diaper market or even fun to wear adult absorbent undergarments. You never stop being a super hero.

 
     
  

Sarah McNeill lives and works in New York City.

  
     
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