Ask Tug: Why Do Good Undershirts Get Discontinued?

Here’s a continuation from my October 1st post about JCPenny discontinuing the J Ferrar undershirt line that dives a bit deeper into why really good undershirts that we love wearing don’t seem to have a long product life and get discontined.

Here’s  the response from “S” after I sent him the confirmation about J Ferrar’s being discontinued:

Hello TUG –  Thanks for your response and the time you took to research with JCP.  I went to JCP this morning, and scoured the Tees in my pursuit of the elusive 95% cotton / 5% Lycra.

I could not find any J Ferrar in a clearance section or any place else.  It looks like the brand has completely disappeared from my local JCP.  I then took your recommendation about Stafford Performance.  There was a large stock of Stafford Performance Tees, but all were 100% cotton.  I could not find any 95 ctn /5 Lycra.  I scoured the Stafford Performance line, all were in a non-zipper packaging.  Maybe the 95/5 Stafford Performance in zip package is out there at other JCP stores.

On the clearance shelf, was a Stafford Essentials with 60 cotton / 40 poly, package of four for $20 and I think I could get another for 50% off.  I was tempted to buy, but decided to pass.

I did find a BVD 95/5 blend, with a “New” on the package.  Unfortunately, it was just in V-neck, not the Crew that I am looking for.  The customer assistant said since it was brand new, she believes Crew neck would be forthcoming.  I did buy one package of V-neck to test them.

For the Alfani Stretch, they were a bit out of my price range.  Other Alfaini products were on sale at Macy’s, but not the Stretch.  The nice assistant even verified the price for me.  I am on a tight budget in this uncertain job market, so I can wait for a sale.

Any theories on why Merona 95/5, J Ferrar or others don’t have a long product life?  I had such good luck.  They feel great and wash great.

Thanks again.

Sam

Why Good Undershirts Get Discontinued

I thought about Sam’s question over the weekend and after a visit to Target with Mrs. Tug, it all kind of fell into place for me.  Since I felt this information was so important, instead of emailing Sam back, I decided to make it into this post. Here’s what I came up with.

I do have a theory on why some undershirts don’t have a long product shelf life. Actually, it’s not a theory at all.  The simple truth here is that if undershirts don’t sell well, they will get discontinued. The innate problem here is all about whether or not people know about a product.

For people to know about a product, they have to hear about it somehow (via product marketing/pr). If a manufacturer doesn’t promote a product, people won’t know about it, so they won’t buy it and sales will be slow.  Slow sales = Product being discontinued.

The problem is, marketing budgets are usually very limited (even moreso nowadays I have to believe) and when companies are figuring out where to spend their marketing and/or pr dollars, they have to allocate them to the product(s) that will likely yield the highest returns.

I suspect this is why people know about JCP Stafford, but not J Ferrar and people know about Hanes and not Merona undershirts being sold at Target.  I also figure this is why so many guys just assume that Hanes, and maybe Fruit of the Loom, are the only undershirt companies out there.

Hanes spends a ridiculous amount of money on PR and marketing their undershirts and that is exactly why people know about them. In fact, Mrs. Tug and I were at Target over the weekend and when I visited the men’s underwear department it was clear that Hanes was the dominant undershirt offering.

Even Fruit of the Loom had a tiny selection compared to Hanes and they are probably the second largest undershirt seller in the United States. In looking at Target’s undershirt offering, it only consists of Hanes, Fruit-of-the-Loom, Merona, and Evolve (and evolve is more heavily weighted on underwear) and Hanes makes up for 90%+ of the undershirt real-estate there.

I also believe there is another aspect here and that’s retail presence and/or product awareness. Most guys will shop for undershirts/underwear at retailers like Target, Walmart, KOHLS, and various other department stores.

We only know about the options we physically see in these stores and will buy the ones we feel most confident about, the ones that fit our budgets, or even possibly the one that the sales person recommends.

The Exception

One exception to this rule is if they see a product on tv (case in point – Spanx for Men, Equmen, Slim Ts, infomercials, home shopping channels) or hear about it word-of-mouth. If somebody sees/hears about a compelling product, they’ll be likely to buy it online if it’s not available in retail.

Other than that, what you see in retail is what you’ll likely wind up buying. The problem here is that many very good clothing products (undershirts) will never see the light of day in retailers.

The reason that is the case is because large retailers have large requirements, not only in being able to supply large amounts of inventory to them, but I have heard from many folks that retailers have very demanding marketing commitments. And why wouldn’t they? Retailers want to make sure a product they carry sells, so why not put it on the manufacturer to invest a ton a money in marketing the product and driving consumers to the retailer to purchase.

As you can see, this becomes a viscous cycle and in the end, the consumer is the one that gets the short-end of the stick because they are not made aware of the vast array of products that are available unless they turn to the internet, which many wouldn’t even consider doing.

I mean, who searches for undershirts on the internet? I know about 30k of these people who do this monthly on my site, but that’s a pretty small number compared to the male population that wears undershirts.

It’s not fair to the consumer and we definitely need to find a solution one of these days. Maybe I should rent a big billboard in Times Square for a month that just says UndershirtGuy.com!

Anyway, I hope my site provides some utility for those curious enough to find out what undershirt options are out there. Now we just have to find a way to spread the word!!

16 thoughts on “Ask Tug: Why Do Good Undershirts Get Discontinued?”

    • heya phil! i’d say do a google search for “v-neck muscle shirt” and see what you come up with.

      you’d likely find something on amazon, or possibly a site like freshpair or barenecessities.

      good luck!

      Reply
  1. When it comes to sleeveless, trim-fitting or muscle shirts.. americans are getting fat-er, and if you have the profile of being 8 weeks away from giving birth to a basketball, you are not in the market for anything but standard plain white tees in a generous fit. There is a shrinking market as the avg waistline explodes.

    I have some muscle tees i am looking to replace, I THINK they were ‘Joe Boxer’ branded, but I cant read the logo anymore.. they are cotton / lycra or cotton / spandex, they have the same material stitched around the arm holes that are stitched around the collar, and are the most comfortable shirt I have ever worn. I usually wear them under a polo shirt. I seem to recall these were joe boxer sleepware, and this is probably why they are so unbelievably soft.. anyway, cant find them anymore or even a record that this once proud sleepware shirt ever existed in our once proud land.

    Anyone recall the shirt I am talking about?.. its not ribbed, and its a stretchy soft cotton feel that is pretty form fitting. Wish I could find a pack of two of these.

    Reply
  2. Thank you…this blog offered a bit of comfort to a quite frustrated shopper. I am going out of my mind looking for affordable athletic/trim/slim cut undershirts and t-shirts. I prefer medium to dark gray, but was okay with the lighter gray Merona’s at Target. Unfortunately, they have been discontinued. It seems that the “Big” t-shirt makers don’t take into account those of us who are not of the box (or ball) shape variety…or, if they do, they make the product prohibitive cost-wise. I have tried going a size down, but being that I do own a set of shoulders, that generally doesn’t work out so well…so, the quest continues!

    Reply
      • It is funny you mention them, I just picked up two today, one crew and one v-neck, both grey. I am 6’1″ and 185 lbs, with an athletic build and ended up going with the Medium. Though the Large would do in a pinch, I liked the slightly snugger fit and I am actually carrying an extra 5 lbs around from the holidays so figured it was a better idea to get the Mediums.

      • I wore a crew yesterday and a V-neck today and both are very comfortable, and also look good without a shirt over them. The V is perfect as the neck doesn’t plunge too far down as to only be worn underneath another shirt. Having not washed them, I cannot tell you how they will hold up in that department, but I do generally wash my clothes in cold/cold or warm/cold cycle so I don’t foresee any issues. The material is very comfortable, too.

      • Just wanted to follow up. The mediums fit perfectly BEFORE washing. They shrunk considerably after washing in cold and drying. While they still fit, I wasn’t going for the “Jersey Shore” look, just wanted something that fit well, so I returned the remainder of my purchases and exchanged them for Large. Having gone through a couple wash cycles with some of them, I will say they meet my expectations. The fit is good (not baggy in the arms, shoulders, or waist), but not too tight either (the mediums were REALLY tight in the shoulder after washing, and the arm length shrunk considerably). I would not have paid the $16 original price for these, but got them buy one get one free…which was in my price range. I wear them both as undershirts and alone, though the Target Mossimo T-shirt really fits a bit better I couldn’t find any in the colors I wanted and in my size when I was buying (now they are all in stock again…of course). So, if you go with these I would suggest erring to the side of a little too big as they will shrink, and wait until they’re on sale.

      • thanks for the follow-up phil! i really appreciate you taking the time and providing all the details!

        can you post this same info on the apt. 9 article? just search the site and you should be able to find it.

        thanks!

  3. I too am upset by shirts being discontinues, for over 8 years I have worn the alfani muscle (sleeveless crew neck t shirt) it was always an edv in a 2 or 3 pack black or white. Now it seems that hey do not carry them anymore. Tug, what would be a good or better comparison in terms of comfort or fit….. It has to be tagless! lol

    Reply
    • hey ryan! yeah, undershirts will continue to get discontinued if they aren’t big sellers.

      i’m sorry to say this, but i don’t have too much experience with muscle undershirts, but there are some articles on my site here that offer up some information on companies that are still offering that style of undershirt.

      best way to find them is to use this search: http://www.undershirtguy.com/?s=muscle

      Reply
  4. Look at the bright side… Department stores and other brands are constantly trying to improve their product to increase their market share. So I appreciate their dollars being spent in Research/Development vs Marketing. Although, I have also been discouraged when going back a few years later to purchase more undershirts that I have been favoring. I was looking foward to adding more J.Ferrars that I picked-up during this year’s Father Day sales. Thanks again for your site!

    Reply
  5. Tug,

    I agree with you that the heart of the matter is simple economics – the best undershirts are rarely the most profitable ones for the larger brands. Since they focus on the financials, the decision as to where to focus doesn’t always have the ultimate well being of the customer in mind.

    But this is OK, as that it creates a niche for specialty companies to fill the void. For men who care enough to read about undershirts, businesses like Ribbed Tee are a godsend. Quality product that costs a bit more than a Hanes undershirt, but feels and last longer for what I consider to be a better value.

    Good undershirts will continue to be discontinued, not because they cease to be good but because unless they are the sole focus of a company they are subject to the bottom line and profitability.

    Best regards,

    Antonio

    Reply

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