Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, 2(x)ist, the brand best known for its underwear fit, has re-launched its basics program. The "Essential" collection boasts 100% cotton basics, in both white and black, and in a variety of styles including tanks, crewnecks, v-necks, long-sleeve henleys and in bottoms a button-fly boxer, contour pouch brief, sport brief, no-show trunks and long underwear. Tim Yap spoke to design director Jason Scarlatti recently about the evolution of the brand and the men's underwear industry.

Jason, what is the company best known for?
2xist is best known for our superb fit and excellent quality. We are now the leading men's fashion underwear business and seasonally we offer modern, edgy, fashion-forward, trend-setting men’s underwear collections.

What are your best-selling items today?
Our best-selling items are our low-rise styles. A no-show brief and a no-show trunk. The styles are lower in the rise, but also have a countoured pouch for excellent fit. Our 2(x)ist signature “square cut tank” is our leading top style as well.

How much do they retail for?
Retail varies between collections but mainly we focus in $20-30 range.

How have attitudes towards men's underwear evolved in the past five years?
People are generally treating the underwear industry as a fashion accessory now, much like a tie. They want quality, something that looks great. Our consumer understands they are getting an excellent product, but they are also getting a product that fits great and makes you feel great when you wear them. I like to say we make those “Friday Night” underwear. Those occasions that you wanna feel good, and sexy and fashion-forward.

How have attitudes among your own consumers evolved? Are they loyal?
Our customers are very loyal. And the collections have become a status quo. Our customers love that we offer something new every season, much like the latest pair of sunglasses, or a handbag, or shoes. Everyone's looking to see what we are doing next.

What do your customers want the most and how are you answering their needs?
Our customers want innovation. They want fashion. They want color, fit, function and excellent form. They want this because this is what we have delivered, and what they expect from us.

What are the most cutting-edge products you've designed?
The most cutting-edge we are currently premiering is the Liquid Cotton collection. The innovation starts with the fabrication: a fine cotton mixed with innovative XLA fiber by DOW chemical. The fiber is the thinnest, most durable stretch fiber on the market. The collection features our styles all cut and angled with our signature “square cut” details. The no-show brief has leg binding that squares at the pouch. The elastic is a microfiber, super soft elastic with the 2(x)ist logo engineered center front. There are two color pop stripes that run through the elastic and then veer off at center front past our logo and shoot down one side of the pouch on the garment. These pop stripes add a squared off look to the collection. The campaign will premier this fall.

How important is it to complement underwear with T-shirts, tanks and other sportswear basics? How profitable has this additional side of the business been?
It seems when customers buy tops in the underwear department of a store, they really are looking for multi-packs or two-packs. However, the tops we have been designing tend to be more fashion-forward and we notice our tops are being worn as sportswear, outerwear pieces. In the Liquid Cotton collection we are featuring this fall, we are selling a sleeveless hoodie and also a square-neck deep V. We had just designed these styles for our fashion show, and the buyers went crazy for them!

How much are you spending on advertising this year?
A fortune!

What marketing channels are you pursuing?
We run the gamut. Magazines, bus and phone kiosks, television, Internet. We do it all.

Does sex still sell? What else sells?
Still sells. Always will.

How vital are your online sales?
Approximately 30%.

How do you compete with a big underwear heritage brand such as Calvin Klein?
We stay true to who we are. We design for our customer. We are unique. We are fashion-forward, not basic. We do what’s right for our business, and that lends us room for both of us on the floor.

For a more in-depth report on the men’s underwear segment check out issue 221.