👄 MONEY TALK: the organic cotton boxer brief

On one of our paid Instagram posts about our organic cotton boxer brief, we received a comment along the lines of, “why would I buy this for $39 when I can buy a five pack from [insert significantly larger retailer] for less?”

This type of question is important: why would you purchase the organic cotton boxer brief for $39 when you can purchase many other items for less? In our first edition of MONEY TALK, we want to talk about where your money goes when you purchase the organic cotton boxer brief, and how this may differ from shopping from other retailers.

At underbares, we’re passionate about supporting domestic manufacturers. We’ve worked with product development and manufacturing teams in NYC, DC, Philadelphia, South Carolina, and Massachusetts. At this point in time, we work with two manufacturers in Fall River, MA. These manufacturers cut, sew, and ship your underbares.

Both of our manufacturing partners are committed to workplace health and safety and fair wages, with all hourly wages starting above minimum wage. They actively promote from within and take care of their teams. They have carefully implemented systems since February to protect their team members' health and safety during the covid-19 pandemic.

Because our manufacturers pay their employees fairly and are based in the USA, manufacturing typically costs more than it does to manufacture abroad. Lloyd Wood, director of public affairs for the National Council of Textile Organizations, aptly summarized production costs abroad in this Forbes piece stating:

“Although the upstream fiber, yarn, fabric and dyeing and finishing steps are heavily automated, automation technology lags for the last stage of the apparel supply chain, cutting and sewing," says Wood. "This inefficiency is why so many U.S. garment making jobs have been off-shored to chase cheap labor."

In addition to labor costs in the USA typically being higher, there are other items to consider that also increase labor costs. For example, when we launch a new product, we do not manufacture thousands of units. Instead, the number of garments that we manufacture is informed by how many of our lovely community members have joined our running waitlists and have invested in pre-ordering items.

Therefore, when we manufacture a smaller batch of garments, our manufacturing team does not reach peak efficiency on the production floor. This results in slightly higher labor costs. While it is tempting to avoid this added cost by investing in more inventory, we’d prefer to sell out and reinvest in items when we know you want them.

We strive to be intentional about producing items that fulfill a need in your top drawer and that won’t just sit on a shelf. From a sustainability perspective, we avoid producing excess merchandise that does not sell and could end up in a landfill.

Ok, so why does the organic cotton boxer brief cost $39 per pair?

We hesitated about producing cotton essentials since there is a loooot of cotton undergarments already in the world. But after hearing your feedback, we opted to produce items that are suitable for any body and that are fabricated with materials that are better for people and our planet.

So, the organic cotton boxer brief is made out of GOTS certified organic cotton from India. GOTS certified organic cotton differs from conventional cotton because it is held to higher environmental and socially responsible standards. A GOTS organic piece of clothing must have a minimum of 70% organic material in it. You can learn more about GOTS certifications at this websiteThe elastic in the boxer brief is manufactured domestically in Pawtucket, RI. The organic cotton and the elastic are then shipped to Fall River, MA, where they are cut, sewn, and inspected for quality before arriving at your door.

the organic cotton boxer brief cost breakdown
cutting/sewing/quality control = 20%
fabric* + trims = 15%
packaging materials = 2%

*Room for improvement: we’re still on the lookout for a heavier weight GOTS certified organic cotton from the USA. When possible, we try to keep our supply chain close to the northeast to cut down on transit time and resulting emissions.

We apply t
he remaining 63% of the cost breakdown to operating expenses such as software, product development, and photoshoots. You’ll see in our cost breakdown that we don’t include a profit. The reason for this is because currently the margin that we make is reinvested into businesses expenses, like growing our very small team and thoughtfully developing styles that put comfort first so you can feel good in your underbares and good about them.

If you have feedback about areas where we can provide more information or where you’d like us to provide more MONEY TALK, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you at hello@underbares.com.

Thank you for being here,
❤️ team bare