I caught up with Anna Volina from underwear specialist Body Aware to find out what trends we should be keeping an eye out for in the world of men’s underwear.
Body Aware has always been on the sexy side of the underwear spectrum. Who are the typical Body Aware customers?
We have an array of customers from all over the world, with various backgrounds, who want to feel sexy in our underwear. Most of our customers come from the US, but we also have customers visiting our site from Canada, Mexico, the UK, across Europe, and Asia. Many are dedicated customers who are anticipating our new designs and keep coming back for more.
From a recent survey, we found that our customers range mainly from 30–50 years old, who are working professionals — so it’s a more mature crowd that get to enjoy our underwear, aside from our Instagram Influencers that model underwear for a living.
Body Aware isn’t limited to just one type of guy, there’s something for anyone on our site to look and feel good in.
Where do you draw inspiration for your designs?
We draw inspiration from various trends and our friendly competition. Along with our past styles that did well. A lot of our designs are influenced by the fabrics we end up finding, along with the our colour selection. We always want to bring various shapes and utilise the fabric in a combination that appeals to our customers. So we’d want to do something somewhat modest, and go all-out with some see-through items for our more daring customers.
We create new designs each month, ranging from sportswear, bodysuits, to a limited run of a pair of briefs or thongs. If it ends up being a hit, we do it again, but perhaps in a different type of fabric. A lot of the time, the fabric speaks for itself and we try to focus more on the fit and making it look just right.
Which are some of your biggest selling products?
Our Greek God Brief has always been a best-seller. It’s a soft and lightweight stretch satin fabric that’s contoured in the back, with a slight pouch giving our customers a thrill when they see that glistening sheen and flattering fit. It’s a bit of a luxury item that keeps coming back in new colours, so new customers get a chance to try it out.
Thongs tend to also do very well. One we keep bringing back is the Gossamer String. There’s very little fabric, which makes for a spectacular fit for our wearer. It’s one that definitely accentuates and stands out, with various colours to choose from.
Sometimes some of our most simple designs are the ones that do well. Our customer favourites can be seen from the countless reviews the items end up getting. Our customers rate our BodyCon Thong and Brief as some of our most comfortable designs, often rating them as a ‘must-buy’ when shopping with us.
I’m always intrigued by your lace underwear for men. I’m constantly looking for an occasion when I can wear a lace bodysuit. Why do you think lace underwear products are popular with men?
It’s something new to try and it definitely has to do with the sensation of getting to wear lace. Lace is much more delicate and uncommon to be seen on any men’s garment. At Body Aware we give men the option to explore and realise that lace can make a guy feel sexy too, and our briefs have a pouch making it much more comfortable than a pair of women’s lace panties.
There’s also that edgy factor lace has to offer for men, and it can definitely be worn for special occasions to make a statement. One of our customers — Eric Alden — had paired his lace leggings with a pair of his own underwear in a similar shade, and just a harness with some accessories to show up to an event. So I’d definitely say its for someone that wants to be bold and not afraid to show it.
With the underwear made from neoprene — don’t they get a bit sweaty?
Neoprene can get a bit sweaty if there’s extreme heat. However, it’s technically like a cropped down version of a wet-suit. The weight of our neoprene is much lighter, there is a chance of sweating, but most times it isn’t much of a problem. It’s also very easy to wash and holds up well afterwards.
What are some of the underwear trends that we should be keeping an eye on?
The trends in the mainstream underwear market have steadily been catching up when it comes to introducing other fabrics such as silk and satin to a boxer or brief as a more luxe item. This is something we’ve been creating over the years, including satin leggings and tanks for lounge-wear. So we’d say the industry has been catching up and providing men with more than the usual cotton/spandex blend boxer or brief.
Eco-friendly fabrics are also on the rise. Companies have been dabbling in finding what’s best for our planet in production of undergarments. We’ve found an alternative for ourselves in a range of boxers, briefs, and thongs called The Amazing Bamboo Collection — the fabric feels like a very soft modal, but the fibres are made completely out of bamboo.
Overall, we’ve found that men are looking for more eye-catching cuts of underwear, lounge, and sportswear, and we’re here to deliver it to them.
We want to hear your opinion
Photography that embraces naked men
“Stop comparing ourselves to strangers on the internet…”
I caught up with photographer Anthony Patrick Manieri to talk about his ongoing series of work known as Arrested Movement.
Why do you think this project has captured the imagination of gay men around the world?
Because we’re all the same really, except we don’t all look alike. We usually just see what society deems to be the ‘perfect’ body types, flashed across TV and social media all the time.
This project encompasses a wide variety of men that are photographed equally and beautifully. I feel that the variety of men and body shapes being highlighted are recognisable to most men. We need to see diversity represented more in the media. That, and also the idea of male body positivity is refreshing in a world where the media seems to only push female body positivity. In this day and age, where depression and anxiety are extremely commonplace, it’s nice to know that we’re not alone in the struggle.
Why are men so keen to be photographed by you for this project?
Because we all want to fit in. We all want to be accepted, and here is a photographic series celebrating all men, all body types, and showcasing them artistically. I think men look at this and can relate and identify with some of the participating models, because they see themselves in the photos.
Most of the men you’ve photographed for this project appear to be first-time models, most likely being professionally photographed naked for the first time. Was that experience confronting for many of your models?
From what I’ve seen, and from what some of my assistants mentioned to me, for most of the men that participate there’s a definite shift in their overall energy levels from when they first arrive at the studio to when they’re done. One assistant asked me — “What is going on in the studio? Because when they arrive they’re quite scared, some even shake with nerves, but when they leave they glow and have this sense of empowerment.”
I make sure that the studio is private and a safe space for them to try and feel as comfortable as possible. I brief them, and coach them with suggestions of possible body movement. I also stop periodically to show the gentlemen their progression so far in the shoot.
Most men, after seeing themselves on the screen during the shoot, are delightfully impressed by how they look. They look at themselves in a positive light artistically, and not what they usually expect to see. I talk to them about how their hands are positioned, their facial expressions, pointing of their feet, and the overall lines of their bodies in the frame.
When you’re not quite happy with your body, putting yourself out there is brave. I watch some men almost lose themselves in the moment and in the music. I’m grateful that I get to witness such a personal moment of self-evolution. For others, they’re determined to take an amazing photo, so they push themselves so that their final image is strong and unique.
Should everyone tackle a naked photo shoot at some point in their lives?
I don’t know if that’s the answer. What people should do is take time to appreciate and accept themselves, to put themselves first. Fill their own cups before extinguishing their energy with others. Uniqueness is special. It’s okay to look different on the outside, because we’re all the same on the inside.
How is the project continuing to evolve?
I’m currently working on the design of the book — I’ll be releasing a Kickstarter page this Fall. I’m also looking at gallery spaces to have the first of many shows.
Are you still actively shooting guys for this project?
I’m still actively photographing men. If it were up to me, I’d be in a different city every weekend photographing.
Since I’m funding this myself, I need to take breaks between cities. Travelling, studio costs, and hotels add up quickly. There are a few cities in the US, Canada, and Mexico that I’d like to do before heading back to Europe. Beyond that, there’s talk of Australia, and possibly some cities in South America for 2019.
How can we help each other feel better about our bodies?
I think we really need to be kind to ourselves, and each other — daily. Judgement and self-judgement is such a human flaw, it’s like a vibrational plague. We should be detaching ourselves from our smart-phones and social media regularly. Yoga and meditation are great ways to feel centred and grounded, to be in tune with our higher self. Eating right always makes for a happier body and mind. We need to encourage and validate each other to be the best we can be.
What do the images that you’ve captured through this project tell us about gay men and their relationship with their bodies?
Gay culture is meant to be inclusive, and we celebrate that inclusiveness. Though within the gay community, there’s such a divide between men. We’re labelled and put in categories, therefore creating almost a hierarchy of what’s acceptable.
Body-image and self-esteem start in your own mind, not on Instagram. We need to literally stop comparing ourselves to strangers on the internet. We need to make mental health a priority in the gay community.
I hope that when people see this project, they know their worth, they know that they’re beautiful, and that it’s okay to be different.
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