Freshpair, an Internet retailer of intimate apparel for men and women, is changing the perception that online shopping is impersonal. It is offering an individualized experience for each customer and experts on stand-by to assist with sizing or order placement.

The company was founded 13 years ago and marketed only to the parents of students in college, President Matthew Butlein says. “It was a way for the parents of students at the University of Maryland to send their kids new underwear on campus,” he explains. “That model has changed, as it was very hard to find that specific target market.”

Freshpair’s business model changed in 2003 when it began focusing on nationwide sales of intimate apparel to men and women. “It was a very easy change to make,” Butlein says. “We really expanded to serve this growing need for online intimates purchases.”

Today, the company continues to offer bras, panties and shapewear for women and underwear and swimwear for men. Undergarments for both genders range from traditional to risqué. “We know that buying underwear can sometimes be mundane, stressful or frustration,” Butlein says. “We’ll be there by the customer’s side to make sure it’s gratifying and rewarding.”

Celebrate Underwear

The company’s new business plan included the Aug. 5, 2003 inauguration of National Underwear Day. Over the past decade, Freshpair has celebrated by having model events in New York City, massive underwear giveaways, a pop-up shop in Columbus Circle and a Times Square runway show.

In August, more than 800 people – wearing underwear only – filled Times Square in New York to celebrate the 11th annual National Underwear Day. Attendees promoted Freshpair’s theme that confidence can be had at any age and with any shape or size.

“We tried to break the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people in their underwear,” Director of Marketing Kaitlin Moughty says. “We didn’t break it, but it got people celebrating confidence in their underwear. People from their 20s to their 60s were out celebrating National Underwear Day with us.”

National Underwear Day also included a pop-up shop, allowing Freshpair staff to interact with customers. “We wanted to bring the brand to life,” Butlein explains. “We built a pop-up store last year and brought to life a physical location.”

Freshpair had experts at the site fitting women in bras to help them find the right size. It is estimated that 80 percent of women wear the wrong size, Butlein says. “It was fascinating to us that about 99 percent of women at the event were wearing the wrong bra size,” he adds. “To see women come out beaming and smiling because they found a better fit was validating as a business owner.”

Shopping Made Personal

Freshpair personalizes its customers’ shopping experience by tracking buying patterns. The company has been monitoring purchases and browse histories of its customers for the past several years to determine each person’s frequently visited items. These might include fashion-forward garments, bright colors, specific cuts, classic designs, neutral colors or full-coverage items, Director of Customer Experience Jason Scoggins says.

“We are looking at our customers’ purchases to determine what lifestyle segments they are in,” he adds. “We don’t segment based on demographics. How someone feels about themself and purchase patterns aren’t dictated by where they live or what age they are.”

Email marketing and website promotions are now tailored to each customer because of segmentation. For example, a customer purchasing only classic, neutral color underwear won’t get emails promoting bright, fashion-forward pieces.

“It’s the level of segmentation that sets Freshpair apart,” Moughty says. “We are selling something basic, but we are doing it in a sophisticated way. It’s very personalized, flexible and dynamic.”

To make buying even easier for those who hate to shop, Freshpair launched a subscription program in 2011 that allows customers to have their frequently ordered pieces delivered automatically, Butlein says.  “There are certain customers who have found a product and want to get that automatically delivered,” he explains. “You don’t have to remember where it is on the site or what you wanted; it takes the stress out of shopping. Buying online shouldn’t be stressful. It should be a fun, rewarding experience.”

Sparking Confidence

Freshpair has also been trying to promote confidence among its customers for the past year, Butlein says. “[Confidence] means something different to each one of our customers,” he explains. “To inspire confidence in our customers, we have to really get to know them to be able to connect.”

To promote the idea, the company started the Confidence Project blog at as a way to publish stories of inspiration for others to read.

Freshpair staff members have heard a number of stories from customers about how the company has made a positive impact on their lives, Moughty explains, and the blog was a good outlet to share the many messages. The stories share a moment of confidence or an inspirational message, ranging from body image issues to survivors of breast and prostate cancer.

“We wanted to share the stories with everyone else because a lot of them really moved us,” she adds. “These men and women love underwear and it’s where they want to spend their paycheck instead of maybe buying new shoes. We want everyone to feel confident and it can start with something as simple as underwear.”