MOOT'S INTERVIEW IN UNDERLINES MAGAZINE
Underlines chats to Jules Parker, founder of Moot Lingerie (lingerie for men), created in 2020 and now part of Made In Britain
How did the brand start and when did you start working on it?
The brand launched in March 2020, about 2 weeks before we went into a global meltdown. At the time it felt like hugely bad luck as we were stopped in our tracks just at the point when we were so excited to have got out into the world.
I started working on the idea a couple of years before, at first with the help of LCE, and I managed to bring the designs I had been imagining into reality. Of course, the pieces we now create have evolved hugely from the first samples we ran up, they are now exactly what I wanted.
The whole concept of Moot started because I couldn’t find anywhere that was making intelligent, well-crafted and striking underwear to decorate a male-shaped body; it simply wasn’t available.
Where do you look for design inspiration?
I absolutely love the early signature work of Marlies Dekkers, there’s a structural beauty that I can relate to as a metalworker. I also felt drawn to the rebellious vibe of the early AP campaigns and their outrageously unapologetic ‘fantasticness’. I wanted to find a way to include the other 50% of the population in an experience that was as stunning and celebratory as that.
What is different about designing underwear for men?
It’s interesting how there’s this perception that you can just size up a bit from women’s designs and that will be OK for a masculine body. We have spent years, first working with LCE and latterly with the support of Something Wicked and our own in-house lingerie maker, making sure that we have the right lines, the right spacing, the right stitches and seam placements, the right fabrics and anchoring points for a male form. It’s subtle, but it’s very different.
We are all about highlighting the form and celebrating the male; you can’t do that well in a piece created for a woman. It may look good when you hold it up, but when you try to fit it, there will be bits that gape and bag and areas that stretch and tear. It’s been tricky getting it right – there is no industry norm to refer to. We have had to make, remake, remake again and test. It all takes so long from initial idea to sample to website launch, but we will not bring something to market unless we are convinced that it is the absolute best that it can be.
What are the highlights of your collection?
I am so utterly proud of the Pearl Wilde. It’s like nothing else I have ever seen and knowing that I made that happen is a great feeling. It is a stunning brief with echoes of a suspender belt (notoriously hard to work well on a male body). It is edgy, beautiful, handmade, subtly jewelled and makes you feel like the most magnificent version of you that there could be.
What do you read and whom do you follow in social media to keep ahead of trends?
We do have a growing social media presence and we love seeing what is out there in the world of style and of course, particularly lingerie, but we would say, very clearly, that Moot is here to cut its own path. There is no one doing what we are doing right now and we can’t look around and draw huge influence from peers in the way that boxer short makers might. We think we are getting better and clearer at establishing a key Moot feel to what we are creating. It takes a while to get to know your own self, which is odd!
We are strappy, structural, clean lines, highly considered in our engineering of shapes. I am from a long career in 3D design and this makes me a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to getting the fit right for men. In terms of early influence though, I would say that Marlies Dekkers always caught my eye and the vibe that came from early AP campaigns caught my imagination.
Describe the person who wears your designs: what is their style?
It is almost impossible for us to know what the style of our Moot clients is! We don’t have a retail outlet (yet!) and we offer our customers a really discreet and unobtrusive shopping experience. However, we have used our optional mailing list to ask a couple of questionnaires in the past two years and we have found out that we have a fantastically varied client base. Men and women (yes, almost 50% of our sales are directly to women) all over the world, of all ages from early 20s to early 80s so far. We do know that they all have impeccable taste though, and the massive majority of those who responded put our high ethical production values as very important to them.
A Typical Week…in your life
Like all small business owners it’s a constantly changing juggle of responding to orders and creating the buzz to generate the orders! There are only two of us in the Sussex office and I have a vintage car restoration business that also needs me for some of the week – but we do have Tuesdays with our in-house seamstress who helps to create samples of any new ideas. I have to act as the model as I am the only male shaped person available!
I have to consider the social media ideas for the week, direct orders to the Leeds sewing team, try to engage with the press to talk about Moot, select fabric samples, keep ahead of legwear ordering from Europe, and deal with all the posting and customs implications for small businesses with a worldwide fan base. It’s all exciting though and so wonderful to see the idea I once had, turning into a reality.
Your proudest moment to date?
People expect my proudest moment to be the appearance on Channel 4s daytime talk show where I talked about creating Moot with my wife, or getting into The Observer in a feature on men’s lingerie, or being chosen for a photoshoot with Attitude Magazine, or being ‘called for’ twice by mega-star stylist, Harry Lambert, who wanted Moot products for projects involving the Vogue photographer, Tim Walker – but actually, for me, the real proudest moment was just that first moment back in March 2020 when we hit the live button and the website was open for orders. All the effort that went into getting it to that moment was huge and the feeling was something I will never forget.
Your next big challenge?
The next big challenge for us is to make links with others in our sphere. We have got to base camp and we have set up our unit in the foothills of success and now we need to strike out and share what we do with the world of lingerie lovers! We want to see if we can make some B2B connections and offer our sensational pieces to retailers who already have an established market for women, who might want to bring some equity to the offering and give another body shape the same chance to look and feel as glorious.
Your worst move so far?
We underestimated the obstacles still in the way of equality. We thought that the world was in a more enlightened and accepting place than it actually is. We had no idea that Facebook would ban every single one of our ads and shut down our account so severely that we would never, ever be allowed to advertise any product again, not even if we started making tea cups.
We didn’t think that a smiling man in a vest and briefs would be considered ‘sexualised/suggestive content’ and as such be removed from our catalogue of listed products we can tag – we especially didn’t think it when we see women in lingerie ads with amazing suspender and bra sets on, looking into camera, reclining and looking very appropriately engaged in the mood created…and those images running as ads.
We can’t change the system by ourselves but we do hope that change will come. In the meantime, we have learned that the best way for us to present ourselves to the world is just to carry on being ourselves, not lose too much sleep over it and not to dim our light to meet the rules put in place by a faceless megacorp that has no idea how wonderful we are!
What do you hope to achieve?
If you ask a person to think of a jeans company, they will say ‘Levi’s’. If you ask a person to name a men’s lingerie brand they will say ‘Moot’.
That’s what we aim to achieve. We think we can do it.