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Georgia Goodall and Simon Phillips with some of their products. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Published on 14/05/2013 12:00
Scotsmen may be renowned for wearing nothing under their kilts, but an Edinburgh entrepreneur is hoping to make the country a world leader in male underwear thanks to his revolutionary new design.
Simon Phillips is aiming to do for men what award-winning Scottish bra-designer Michelle Mone did for women by creating supportive undergarments that are designed to adapt to different body shapes.
The designer said he was inspired to come up with his Cahoonas brand after realising that the basic patterns of male underwear had not changed since the early 20th century when first boxer shorts and then the Y-front became the most popular designs.
“I felt men were being bypassed by all the design changes that had benefitted women’s underwear in terms of fabrics, curve stitching and so on,” he said. “Then when I found out that 75 per cent of men dress to the left and 25 per cent to the right and I realised no underwear designers were taking that into consideration I knew something had to be done.”
After spending a year and a half working with experts from the textile department of Heriot-Watt University, Mr Phillips came up with the design he hopes will launch a new era of male underwear comfort by offering customers the chance to buy left or right fitting pants.
The Cahoonas’ style incorporates a supportive “S pocket” which the makers say adapts to physical differences for a more “ergonomic, comfortable fit”.
Mr Phillips and his wife, Georgia Goodall, used crowd-sourcing – where people can make online financial pledges to support fledgling projects – to raise more than £5000-worth of pre-orders.
Ms Goodall, who has a background in marketing, said research showed that most male underwear is actually purchased by women on men’s behalf. The company hopes to teach women about the importance to men of the right fit.
Mr Phillips revealed the company is also working on a range of seam-free, supportive sports underwear. He said one design is currently being trialled by a Hibs player, but refused to divulge who.
The first batch of Cahoonas arrived in their office this week and will be shipped out to pre-ordering customers immediately. New customers will be able to buy the £27 pants online once those initial orders have been fulfilled.
Ms Goodall said: “There’s already a lot of great textile and fashion design in Scotland. We want to open a factory in the area. It’s important to us that our products are made in Britain.”
The couple have 11-year-old twins who are a bit embarrassed their dad makes pants. But they hope Cahoonas will become a design classic that the youngsters will grow up to be proud of.
‘I THINK IT’S A GENIUS IDEA’
Evening News fashion writer Lynne McCrossan said she believed there could be a major market for a new style of men’s underwear, and that left and right style pants could prove popular.
She said: “I am shocked such things don’t exist already, but I think it’s genius. Apart from the comfort issues for men, from a fashion aspect it could also help smooth out unsightly underwear bulges beneath the trousers.
“Previously the only real fashion trend in men’s underwear was the high-end brands designed for the label to be seen over the trousers, but that was very much about the 1990s designer label trend. If they market it to men in terms of sports and practicality first I think it could really fly.”
Judith Duffy looks at the phenomenon of crowd funding
IT was once a case of hoping for a sympathetic bank manager to back the next big idea.
Now everyone from scientists to artists is turning to crowdfunding – appealing on the internet for ordinary people to back their dream project with cash.
One of the world's largest crowdfunding websites launched in the UK just six months ago. In Scotland, 32 projects have so far raised nearly £700,000 on Kickstarter.
Two-thirds of Scottish projects reached their fundraising target, better than the 45% overall rate.
On Kickstarter people give money to a project they like in return for a reward, such as a T-shirt or a name in the credits of a project. Other crowdfunding types include individuals lending money, with the aim of getting the money back plus interest, or buying shares in a business.
Tim Wright, director of social media research firm Twintangibles, said crowdfunding was "taking off" in the UK, thanks to factors such as a lack of funding from the banks and greater access to technology.
Scotland's first equity crowdfunding website – which offers shares in return for investment in companies – will be launched next month.
Jude Cook, founder of ShareIn.com, said: "Instead of getting one big investor investing £200k, why not get 200 people investing £1000 or 2000 people investing £100?"
Here we look at some of the Scottish projects that have used Kickstarter.
When Edinburgh-based designer Simon Phillips, 41, tried to get banks and grants to back his idea for a new "ergonomic" design of men's underwear, he found no-one could understand why there would be any demand for it.
But his project for British-manufactured male underwear attracted nearly 100 crowdsourcing backers in 30 days and raised more than £5000, which will enable him to put the design into production.
Phillips said: "We started on this mission in 2010 and it was a case of looking at why no-one had changed male underpants since 1920.
"Female underwear has come on leaps and bounds in the 21st century. Michelle Mone realised women have got lots and lots of different shapes going on and she created her brand. I thought it was about time someone did something like that for gents."
Phillips said he did not expect such a positive response to his Cahoonas underwear project.
"We sold £5000 worth of pre-orders in 30 days. I am still in shock, it was totally amazing," he said.
"You are basically opening yourself up to people and straight away you get the impetus of whether is it a good idea or is it not a good idea."
Phillips added: "It says to the banks, 'This is the 21st century and people are using the internet. We can back the companies that we think are good enough and we can put our money where our mouths are.'
"British industry and industry in general can only benefit from this – if the banks don't want to lend money, we don't need banks any more."
RAISED: £5182 achieved May 3
Rewards offered: Thank you tweet for £1 to tailor-made underwear for £5000 or more.
HOW TO DO IT
SO you have a great idea but no money to make it happen – can turning to the internet really provide the answer?
Rewards-based websites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and BloomVC can work well for specific projects, while a business which is already up and running could opt for loan-based crowdfunding through sites such as Zopa and Funding Circle, instead of going to a bank. There is also equity-based crowdfunding, where investors buy a small share in a business in the hope of it seeing it grow in value, with Crowdcube and Seedrs some of the biggest names in the UK for this type.
Websites may charge for listing the project or a fee when a project is successful. Most work on an "all or nothing" basis, where the project only receives funding if the target is reached within a certain time.
Julia Groves, chairwoman of the UK Crowdfunding Association, said: "It is not an exact science, but having something like 20% of the funds you are trying to raise effectively pledged in advance is a really good way to go to market."
Groves said the average amount raised was £150,000 and the average investment between £2000 and £2500.
She added: "If you don't raise your money, you have to think, was that a bad pitch or was it just a bad project? It is like a little test bed of customers.
"You raise your money at the same time as raising awareness of what you are doing. And if it is successful, you have this band of advocates who are massively keen for your project to succeed. "
The Financial Conduct Authority cautions that investors should understand the business or project and not invest money they are not prepared to lose, as most start-up businesses fail.
By JANE BRADLEY
Published on 06/05/2013 00:00
IT WAS once enough for even the keenest trendsetters to get their hands on something the minute it hit the shops.
But now snapping up a product as soon as it is on sale is considered too late, as more people turn to “pretailing” – the art of getting in on newproducts before they are officially launched.
Crowd-funding ventures, such as Kickstarter or Crowdfunder.co.uk, give those in the know the chance to cash in on new products well in advance of the release date, according to a report by Trendwatching.com.
The report claimed crowd funding has become a way for people to access new products early by becoming investors in an innovation.
“Consumers indulging in ‘pretail’ are driven by the thrill of being early, mixed with the thrill of finding an exciting or useful product, especially if it’s something quirky or so niche that it would have never made it down a traditional brand’s production line,” said the report.
Pretailers looking to find the latest inventions and designs invest usually small amounts of money on crowd-funding websites in a new business venture that catches their eye – often giving them exclusive access to the product as a trial or prototype.
However, if a new brand does not reach its target funding, the money is automatically returned to the investors it did attract and the project is deemed a failure. Crowd funding has become big business in recent months – growing 81 per cent to $2.7bn (£1.73bn) in 2012, according to the latest industry report published last week by Massolution.
Some sites, such as Crowdsupply.com, have branched out into directly selling goods that have been successfully funded.
Scottish firm Cahoonas, a men’s underwear brand aimed a creating a tailor-made fit available in a “left” and “right”, as well as a waist size, this week raised more than £5,000 on Kickstarter – from investors from as far away as Switzerland and the US.
A total of 78 people – more than three-quarters of the company’s Kickstarter backers – have bought “pledges” which include one free pair or more of underwear – an early way to get hold of the product. Other “pledges” – which do not include a free sample of the product – have not proved to be as popular.
Simon Phillips, the entrepreneur behind Cahoonas, said: “I’ve never heard it called pretailing before, but it makes a lot of sense.
“The people who have invested in my product are from all of the world and the vast majority of them, I have no idea who they are. But they want to get their hands on the product first. I’m shipping pants to as far away as Australia, to people who have invested from there.”
Mr Phillips himself has used Kickstarter to back other products in order to access them first.
“I’ve backed a few other projects on Kickstarter – and that is exactly the reason I’ve done it – to get hold of the product first,” said Mr Philips.