Many years ago I happened to watch Seinfeld… religiously. Of course, everyone did and I probably still would if you could manage to pry South Park and Arrested Development out of the cold, almost dead tray of my DVD player. Seinfeld gave us many things, but for today we’ll just mention: The Bro. The Bro — “Manssiere” if you like Frank’s choice — was a bra for the male who had man boobies. Starting last year Rakuten’s Wishroom Shop decided to create and sell this crazy idea that people have joked about for years. To everyone’s surprise, it was a huge success overnight. Even the UK’s The Telegraph quickly added a video piece featuring the rather unusual clothing option for men as the story was passed around to media outlets worldwide.
Now Wishroom is starting to get a lot of feedback for their successful male undergarment.
Customer feedback makes it possible to gauge what kinds of men are buying bras. “Japanese salarymen have a lot of stress, and the bras seem to relieve that,” said Tsuchiya, identifying office workers in their 30s and 40s as the main clients.
“One customer said when he wears a bra he feels he can ‘reset’ his feelings. If something bad happens he puts on a bra and feels he can come back and fight another day,” he continued.
The second group of customers was more surprising. “We realized we were receiving many orders from people who don’t use the Internet and don’t have mobile phones,” Tsuchiya said. Men in their 50s and 60s, it turned out, were also partial to the calming effects of a bra.
“They were the generation we had been told were ‘manly’ — they led Japan in the postwar period,” explained Tsuchiya. Perhaps, he speculated, they are now reacting against the stereotype.
Still, Tsuchiya is quick to note that men’s bras are not likely to turn into a major trend. To date his bras have all sold out, yes, but his total output stands at just 5,000 bras.
One area with apparent growth potential is the overseas market — or at least certain parts of it. “We get a lot of inquiries from Americans who are interested in selling the bras,” Tsuchiya reported. “But the British are different — they tend to be shocked by what we’re doing.”