Underwear makers seeing red in year of the monkey


As 2016 will be the year of the monkey, Japanese underwear makers are gearing up to employ their once-in-12-year sales tactics: marketing red underwear to cash in on a legend that one can stay healthy by wearing such garments in that particular year.

Gunze Ltd. has gone to Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto to pray for health and long life for those who wear the company’s Year of the Monkey Lucky Underwear products, which were launched in September.

The lineup, including undershirts, briefs and shorts, are made of Egyptian cotton known for its silk-like texture, and are selling better than expected, a company official said.

Gunze will enhance its red campaign in November ahead of the year-end shopping season, when it will add 50 items to its regular lineup of 28 red products aimed at people in their 20s to 40s.

Wacoal Corp. said that during the last year of the monkey, in 2004, red shorts for women sold five times more than usual. According to a company spokesperson, red is also regarded as a lucky color in Europe and China, so Wacoal expects not only Japanese consumers but also foreign tourists visiting Japan to purchase its red items.

The company will increase the number of red products under its Bros brand for men to 10.

A survey conducted by Wacoal on 1,236 women across a broad age range uncovered solidly positive support for red underwear. Respondents said red undergarments can empower their wearers and bring good luck.

At the same time, only 17 percent of them said they currently own any red underwear — giving Wacoal good reasons to believe the company should urge consumers to grab “a once-in-12-year chance to wear red underwear,” the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Daimaru Umeda department store in Osaka said it will set up a special section for red underwear as a feature of its year-end shopping campaign this year.