If there is one part of a man’s wardrobe that receives least attention, it’s the underwear. Research shows that men made independent choices about their underwear only between the age of 19 and 36.
This is followed by a lifetime of neglect, as they rely on women to select and purchase it for them, according to the research.
When Brijesh Devareddy was in college, he noticed how most guys didn’t care for their undergarments and didn’t prioritise it in their wardrobe. They would shop at length for shirts and trousers, but not underwear. It was something they would realise they had to buy on the way to the billing counter.
“They would inevitably buy the same or similar underwear as before. I noticed in college that it was never considered outlandish to see bad underwear all over the hostel. In essence since they seemed not to make too much effort to choose, apart from sizing. I thought something should be done about it,” he adds.
This seed of an idea led to the launch of Buttalks, an underwear subscription startup based out of Chennai.
Soft launched in July 2017, Buttalks is Brijesh’s solution to improving men’s wardrobe. Buttalks curates underwear based on your preferences. Once users sign up, they need to pick a plan with their favourite brands and tell Buttalks what their preferences are. That includes details such as preferences of colours, types, styles and occasion. Buttalks then sends users a box of three underwears every season.
In fact, Brijesh says that users seem to like experimenting. Nearly 60-70% of his customers tend to pick kinky underwear.
“We thought the subscription model would be perfect for this segment, as the customer would be pleasantly surprised on receiving the latest trends which have been curated and chosen by a stylist to suit individual needs based on their lifestyles,” Brijesh says.
Buttalks offers three plans with two options, either a sampler or an annual plan. The sampler is a one-time curated box containing three units of undergarments. In the annual plan, customers get three curated boxes containing three units of undergarments once every four months across seasons.
The sampler plan starts from Rs 999, while the annual plans start from Rs 2,699.
Buttalks has brands such as Diesel, Jack & Jones, FCUK, Calvin Klein, Tailor & Circus, Tommy Hilfiger and more. There are also some Indian brands that are not as popular as the established ones but offer good quality and style. Brijesh says that they try and pick what suits best and some brands that otherwise may not get picked at a store or online. This way, he says, Buttalks is also enabling product discovery. There is an expert who picks, curates and sends the best styles.
Buttalks generates revenues by taking a margin on the products sold. The margin differs from brand to brand.
Since launch, the startup has gained 1463 signups from 40 locations across India. While Mumbai and Bengaluru bring most traction, there have been orders coming from tier 2, 3 towns as well.
While the concept of subscription commerce has been catching up in India, Brijesh sees a lot of potential for growth as it is the country’s only underwear subscription service for men.
And a testament to the demand is reflected by the fact that Buttalks is already cash flow positive and is on track to break even in six months.
Going forward, Buttalks is looking at constantly expanding its product range, bringing in more and more brands. It also wants to eventually become an exclusive retailer for some brands that aren’t present in India currently.
An average customer owns 4-5 pieces of underwear currently, which they tend to use even after it has discolored, tattered and stained. Brijesh says that once people receive a box from Buttalks, they will hopefully start making an effort to wear good underwear.
“Just as much as they would like to see their significant other in fancy lingerie, we would like them to think of good underwear as an essential style statement,” he adds.