With a name like MeUndies, personality is — by definition — part of the brand. But the direct-to-consumer business made efforts to further its appeal with this week's launch of a new line of underwear for women, as well as a more inclusive size range.
FeelFree, the female-focused underwear line, was "specifically created to address a lot of the feedback we got from our community," founder and CEO Jonathan Shokrian told Retail Dive earlier this year. It reflects a "new take" on women's underwear, according to information emailed to Retail Dive on the launch.
At the same time, the company rethought its strategy around inclusive sizing, launching products up to 4XL. The company noted that the additional sizing is not a separate line, as many plus-size ranges are, but is instead an extension of the brand's designs, based on bigger fit blocks and "real bodies."
Customer feedback informs many of the product choices at MeUndies, but complaints about sizing hit Shokrian particularly hard. "One of the most difficult ones was with our product sizing. We hold ourselves very near and dear to our values of inclusivity and some of the feedback we got was that our sizing was really off," Shokrian said, noting that changing sizing can be difficult when you run a membership business and customers have become used to fitting into a certain size.
"There was a constant feedback loop that we were working with our customers on perfecting the perfect sizing, and how we properly scale products," he said.
While the latest announcements are another attempt to extend the brand's reach to more customers, they also reflect Shokrian's thoughts when founding the brand: Build an underwear business founded on self-confidence and comfort.
Making underwear fun
It all started with an ill-fated department store trip.
"It was really uncomfortable, like just the experience of having to ask this older woman where the underwear section was and I ended up buying the wrong product," Shokrian said.
He recalled not feeling very connected to the brand he bought and thinking it was overpriced — problems he's trying to solve with MeUndies.
"At the time, I was in real estate, and I was really kind of struggling to find something that I was passionate about. I felt like I was in the shadows of my family's business and really wanted to do something that spoke to me a little bit more," Shokrian said.
He was talking to Sweetgreen founder (and close friend) Jonathan Neman when the idea hit him for a direct-to-consumer underwear brand that, "really solved a lot of the problems that I faced when I was in the store, and really trying to create a platform for self-expression and self-confidence, which was just something that I personally struggled with growing up."
Shokrian was surprisingly well-connected even before launching MeUndies. In addition to Neman, he was childhood friends with one of the founders of FabFitFun and managed to raise money for MeUndies through friends and family in a seed round. The brand was then incubated by Science, the same company that helped launch Dollar Shave Club.
Since founding MeUndies, Shokrian has invested in Outdoor Voices, and frequently meets up with other founders of DTC companies in Los Angeles to get dinner, chat and advise newcomers in the space. Most are linked by a desire to launch mission-based companies, Shokrian said.
"It's no longer a one-way conversation on social media with our customers, where we're just posting photos, and they're liking it."
Founder and CEO of MeUndies
Eight years down the road, MeUndies has sold over 11 million pairs of underwear to date, has 1.5 million customers and is on track for sales of $75 million, according to info emailed to Retail Dive.
The brand isn't holding back on growth plans, either. In addition to the extended sizing and new women's line, Shokrian said the company will be launching kids products in time for the holidays, making the brand more attractive for families.
Currently, a membership with MeUndies is $14/month for women and $16/month for men, and gets you one pair of underwear a month. But the membership also unlocks site-wide discounts on the brand's other products, which include loungewear and basics like T-shirts.
"I think as we kind of matured, as a company, we've also started to have a little bit more fun with our brand," Shokrian said, noting that socks and T-shirts launched early on with MeUndies, but more recently the brand has played around with bolder products.
"Over the last couple of years, as we've kind of listened to our community and our customers, we've launched products like the onesie. And we've seen these products really come to life online. We really doubled down this year and we launched a product called the 'buddy band,' where you can finally share your favorite print with your fur baby," Shokrian added, talking about printed bandanas customers can buy for their dogs.
As with many DTC brands, MeUndies credits its relationship with customers as a big factor in making products shoppers want, and Shokrian said many of the prints for its products are generated from customer feedback as well.
The brand engages with customers on social media, and also has invested in podcasts as a marketing channel, where Shokrian said they've found hosts that double as brand ambassadors and help to grow the community.
"It's no longer a one-way conversation on social media with our customers, where we're just posting photos, and they're liking it," Shokrian said. "This is really an engaged community that's interactive, where they're having conversations with each other, they're having conversations with us. There's constant feedback and loops created on product development."
The future, in brief
When it comes to the future, casual is king. And not just in terms of the products MeUndies sells. Shokrian is laser-focused on creating a casual, no-stress shopping experience for customers as well.
Unlike some membership programs, customers are allowed to skip a month or cancel their membership whenever they want, which Shokrian hopes makes it more worthwhile for shoppers. At an even more basic level, though, the MeUndies membership is aimed at something most everyone can relate to: not wanting to go to a store just to buy underwear.
"You can't try it on, so we really felt that it lent itself for online shopping in a really great way," Shokrian said. "And then we created this policy that at the time was really unheard of where if people weren't impressed, we'd give them a full refund and let them keep it. So the fear of buying something online and it not really impressing you is completely eliminated."
So far, the strategy seems to be paying off. The return rate is around 2% to 3%, according to Shokrian.
While brick-and-mortar is "definitely" in the brand's future, MeUndies has been satisfied with testing out pop-ups for the time being, rather than committing to a permanent fleet or wholesale relationship.
"It's something that we think about, but right now we really love owning the journey with our customer," Shokrian said of wholesale opportunities. "But it's not to say that one day there may not be an opportunity for us."
Clarification: This story has been updated to reflect revised company metrics.