Andrew Christian: It’s what’s underneath that counts
Let’s face it, as gay men a slight majority of us don’t really think that much about what’s underneath the surface. No, I’m not trying to say that we like to swim in the shallow end of the emotional pool. Simply put, some of us do not (gasp) give a second thought as to what type of underwear that they are going to sport on any given day, and for others it just comes down to the age old boxers or briefs debate.
Luckily, for those that do care and want to wear something of quality, there is Andrew Christian, who is making sure that your mother isn’t worried you aren’t wearing clean underpants, in case you get into an accident. In fact, his brands are so stylish; you may get an EMT boyfriend out of that scenario.
This multi-faceted designer, who has product lines that also include swimwear, jock straps, shirts, tank tops and shorts, started his collection in 1997. And like anything worth putting a lot of time and energy into, it was born out of personal necessity.
“My initial concept for the underwear line was, really, basically from my own need, and my wanting for underwear that was a little more stylish, a little more colorful, a little more fashion forward than what was in the market at that current time,” he explained.
He did feel that this “necessity item” would be best suited for the gay community-at-large; in terms of “if you’re going to be hooking up with somebody, you want to have nice underwear, when it comes to that point of the evening.” However, that thought process is also prevalent in the straight world, as well.
“I think it’s even translating over into straight men now, that are really concerned with what kind of underwear they wear and looking good in it,” Christian stated. “If they’re wearing a pair of designer jeans; they don’t want to be wearing some Fruit of the Loom underwear. They’ve got to have the right pair of underwear for the jeans they’re wearing.”
In reality, even though underwear is his bread and butter, Christian didn’t initially start out to conquer that market.
“I didn’t actually start my company with underwear; it started with sportswear. It evolved over the years and I added swimwear, and then underwear was the last piece of the puzzle.”
As with any type of puzzle piece, and underwear for that matter, it all boils down to making it fit into the right place(s). From his creation of the “Shock Jock” to pairs of “Show-It” undies (et al), Christian has given his buyers a little something extra in the guise of his “Extreme Frontal and Rear Enhancing/Show-It” technologies.
“A guy can never be too big in the front, even if you’re big, you can always be a little bit bigger,” he summarized. “And for the ‘Rear Enhancing’; I’d be at the gym and see guys trying to get the perfect butt, and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I could create underwear that gave the illusion of it, without all the hard work?’”
Baskets and booties aside, Christian has already spent time residing in the material world, with his inventive use of fabrics, such as sports mesh and “super comfortable” bamboo fibers, to name but a few. Designing involves its fair share of “lots of trials and some things don’t work out and don’t make it; and some things do and turn out great.”
And men of all shapes and sizes are continuing to snatch up the wares in droves, while Christian said that, as far as a best-selling item is concerned, it “continues to change” and has switched gears from his “Flashback” line to the provocatively titled “Almost Naked” brand of bands.
“It has a hang-free design, almost like you are free-balling, like you’re not wearing any underwear at all, and the fabric is really soft,” he said of the latter.
And, if his name seems familiar to you, it’s not just from it being emblazoned across your waistband; that’s because the entrepreneur is a reality show star, who was featured on Bravo’s “The Fashion Show” and the third and fourth seasons of “The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency.”
“There’s definitely a lot of people who recognize me from television,” he said. “But, there’s also people that know the product and don’t even know about the television appearances.”
Still, even name recognition can only open the door so far in the competitive world of the underwear and swimsuit marketplace, and its game on, as far as Christian is concerned on that battle.
“It is competitive,” he confessed. “But, that just drives me a little bit harder to be a little more on top of it, and always keep innovating and bringing new products to my customers. [I’ll] never be satisfied with just being good enough, and always strive to be better.”
Customer service is an obvious key to his success, and he utilizes their feedback in helping him stay ahead of trends. But, Christian’s own satisfaction also comes into play for his ongoing venture, which includes launching a new flagship lounge-type boutique in West Hollywood.
“What’s given me the most satisfaction is something, starting now, that I never really thought of before,” he explained. “It’s having an impact and influence on people’s lives.
“I was doing my spring tour for my clothing line and I was doing a fashion show in Seattle. This one fan/customer came up to me and told me how much Andrew Christian underwear changed his life,” Christian detailed. “He used to weigh 300 pounds, and he lost 120 pounds, because he loved my underwear so much that he wanted to fit into them. So, setting out designing a line, you don’t think of things like that, it really makes you feel good, in a roundabout way, that you have a healthy, positive impact on a person’s life.”
For more information about Andrew Christian’s apparel, log onto www.andrewchristian.com
This interview was originally published in May 2010.