For those who’ve been following the men’s shapewear market over the last year, most of the buzz has been from companies that have a lot of marketing power, industry contacts, or money. While those companies have been getting the lion share of the attention, there are several other companies that offer men’s slimming undershirts and tanks that are not as well known.
Enter Manshape. I was introduced to this brand back in July 2009, when a company representative posted a comment in my Compression and Slimming Undershirts. Shapewear for Men article. Come to find out that Manshape has been selling their men’s slimming/support tank ($38 USD) and their support briefs ($42-$43 USD) for over 25 years. After some email exchanges with the rep, they agreed to send me one of their support tanks for review.
After initially trying it on, I sent them some initial feedback and we had a very good email dialog back and forth that I’d like to share with you. Because the exchange was so long and informational, I’ll try to pull out the most salient points. It’ll be good to read through all of it though.
My initial response:
…I think the price point is really good, but between the fabric being itchy/scratchy and it being extremely difficult to get on/off, it’s almost not worth wearing it very often. in fact, I really was worried about wearing the tank by myself without having my wife around because it’s almost impossible to get off by myself…
…Here’s the innate problem: In order to provide support compression, the garment has to be tight enough to hold in tissue. I’ve seen this video & others on other shirts & getting them on & off seems to be an issue with all brands. The fabric we use is something that was originally used by Playtex in it’s “I Can’t Believe It’s A Girdle” just before we started out in 1984. It’s also used in a sports bra by a company called Title 9 for women & is rated as very supportive. They have a store near me & the bra is as hard to get on. We’ve had so many compliments on it being comfortable. I’d suggest you might wash the shirt before you make final comments on it because what you may be feeling is the sizing in the new fabric. It gets softer after a wash or two but don’t use chlorine bleach. The top of the garment is pure combed cotton so I can’t believe this the part you are referring to when talking comfort.
We could make the shirts out of another fabric or make it looser but it wouldn’t compress enough to be worthwhile. I think you may be used to “slinkier” synthetic fabrics that are more slippery. While I’ve seen these garments on bodies, I would bet that if you measured the waist size of a man in ours v.s. another, he’d measure a little smaller in ours…
I gotta give it to them, because the points the rep was making were very good ones. And, to be totally fair, I did wash the Support Tank once and did find that the material softened up and lost that initial itchiness that troubled me so (I’m weird that way). In addition, I did compare my waist/love handle measurements when wearing the Support Tank and the Equmen tank top. While the measurements weren’t any different between the two, I do feel as though (as I am currently wearing the Support Tank while writing this) the Support Tank offers a tighter fit and more control in other areas such as the upper abs (where the middle stitching is) and even possibly a little more flattening in the chest area.
We also had a little exchange about how their product compares to the other, more expensive ones on the market, and while the newer compression undershirts seem to be designed a bit more snazzy, with high-tech fabrics, I really appreciated the following information provided by the rep:
…I guess I’m “old school” having started in the garment industry back when most of the apparel was made here & not offshore. Making it offshore as you know requires very large commitments & very slow turnaround on reorders if you under-project. Keeping my production in the USA has the benefit of being able to produce goods much faster & control my model inventory better as well as the obvious benefit of employing American workers. If nothing else, I’d appreciate you mentioning in your blog that Manshape is entirely US sourced & made
You’re right about pricing for what the market will bear. I’m sure the other guys have a much higher markup than I do as I know their goods & offshore sewing costs are much lower than mine & yet their retail is much higher. I think they also sell direct which means they cut out the retailer in many cases. I chose many years ago to support my retailers by not competing directly against them.
In the end, I’ve had so many testimonials over the years from so many guys who like our products and do wear them on a daily basis rather than special occasion. At $35-40, a guy will buy a week’s worth but not at $100…
…The reason ours is so hard to get on is because it’s got 35% Lycra & is a woven stretch, not a knit. So the yarns aren’t looped but straight. And that’s why it will hold in “more flab” if that’s what one is trying to do…
…We are the only one made in the USA and we are now also one of the lower priced ones – more affordable – than many of the others. And ours is also the only other that has a very high percentage of cotton so ours won’t wick perspiration to the outer garment either.
Man, you just gotta love it when someone is so passionate about their product. I love that they make their product here in the U.S. and definitely appreciate the comments about their woven construction holding in more flab, since it held in my flab pretty good.
With all the above said, here are my initial thoughts about the Manshape Support Tank (disclaimer: I have not had the chance to wear it for long periods of time, so individual results may vary):
- When I initially put the tank on, it felt pretty itchy. I’m big on first impressions, so I was a little put off by it being more scratchy than other undershirts I’ve evaluated. That said, I did wash it and the tank did soften up and lost nearly all of that initial itchiness. I’d love to see them pre-wash the tank, so it’s more soft right out of the package so people are more likely to wear it a second time.
- Compared to every other compression/slimming undershirt I’ve tried to date, the Manshape Support Tank is toughest to get on and off. Although, I will say that every other compression undershirt I’ve tried on has been made out of blends that include polyester and/or spandex, which give the garments their stretch.
- Once on, the Support Tank does offer a good amount of support and flattening. Most noticeably, I feel that the upper ab support and chest flattening are two of this tank’s best features. Midsection/love handle slimming and shaping is about the same as others.
- Bottom of tank feels tight around my hips and doesn’t stretch out as much as I’d like. Also, when sitting down, the bottom of the tank rolls up to my waist.
- Overall design of the tank not as current/stylish as I like. But, since the function is there, and it’s an undershirt, design is not nearly as important as it would be if it were an outer garment.
- At a retail price of $38, the Support Tank from Manshape is one of the more affordable slimming tanks currently on the market.
I’m a big supporter of what this company is all about. I love their passion, the fact that their products are made here in the U.S., and their commitment to their US retailers. While I think the Support Tank could use a little updating to make it more current and have it appeal to a larger demographic of guys, the function is there, so if you’re looking for an affordable support tank top that’s U.S. made, you might find this tank will meet your needs.