A few years ago, there was a story about male brassieres being popular in Japan. You know, male bras for man boobs. A manzier for moobs.
Supposedly, the man bra improves posture—or makes some men feel more secure or something. And back between 2008 and 2009, there were a bunch of news stories about the garment.
Here's a Japan Today article from 2008, talking about how Japanese men are buying male bras "in droves". It also explains why the male bra came about. "Lately women have taken to wearing men’s underwear as a matter of fashion," a spokesperson for Japanese underwear maker Wish Room said in 2008. "Why shouldn’t the reverse be true too? So we developed a bra for men."
Heck, even Reuters covered this at the time, writing how a "bra for the boys" was an "online bestseller". By "bestseller", Reuters meant selling 300 man bras in a short span of time and hitting the top slot on an online retailer's male underwear sales. But 300 male bras? In a country of 120 million? Still, that was in the bra's first two weeks of launch. I'd love to see how it did a year later—or how it's doing now, even.
Mainstream Japanese TV shows covered the "trend", too, reporting that there was even a one-month wait for the bras. It all made it seem like this was some mass-market trend. It wasn't. There weren't TV commercials for the product. No celebrity endorsements. This was a fringe product that had fifteen minutes in the spotlight. And there's nothing wrong with that.
But now, here we are in 2013, years after men bought the male bra "in droves" with another recent article about male bras in Japan. But aren't they already an "online bestseller"? Aren't they already popular? Eh...
A recent article in Japanese tabloid Josei Seven discussed how women claim to have seen a neighbor's dreamy husband wearing the infamous underwear. The original article is incredibly thin—like, I heard from a friend whose friend told them kinda thing. But still, manziers have once again became a topic of conversation on 2ch, Japan's largest online forum.
"Before, this seemed like it was going to be popular, but it was a massive failure," wrote one 2ch user. "This didn't become a thing at all..." added yet another. "Did the company that made these bras a few years back go out of business?" asked another. No, actually. Wish Room still sells its outrageous men and women's underwear. Want a mankini? Wish Room has you covered. Literally.
Other 2ch users wrote that male bras were "strange". "I have no clue why anyone would want to wear these," wrote one 2ch user. "This seems totally bizarre."
There were also comments in, forgive the pun, support of the men's bras, pointing out that people can wear whatever they want—which certainly is true. Hey, if you are a dude, wear a bra if you like! That's fine. Others found the whole thing very amusing. "I probably have an A cup," wrote one 2ch commenter.
In Japan, often small companies release incredibly unusual products as stunts. They know that the Japanese media will run with the story, so the more outrageous, the better. It's free PR! Tech companies in the 1990s and early 00s used to be particularly adept at this. It's unclear if that's the case here—perhaps Wish Room felt the need for men's bras. It's not the only lingerie maker to do so. And that's a-okay.