Low waist, high slits, pure silk, wide belts: chic lingerie has never been so sexy. For men, that is.
Leano Lien (連宗旺) opened the boutique underwear chain Body Formula four years ago. His first shop was in Taipei's young, hip Ximending District (西門町), and has since expanded into the more mainstream East District (東區).
The simplest designs, starting at NT$700, provide a tailored cut that gives lift to the buttocks and definition in front. More creative options are as sheer as anything in the women's department and are accessorized with pendant medals and leather pouches. At the most basic level, the form-flattering skivvies are meant to be comfortable and hygienic. They're also meant to be seen.
And while Body Formula's underwear is intended to be sexy, Lien was eager to specify sexy-classy, not sexy-porn. Body Formula takes care to distinguish itself from sex stores.
"Many of our Japanese suppliers are meticulous in ensuring that their products are not degraded by being sold in sex shops," Lien said. With prices going up well into the thousands, these are clothing items aimed at giving pleasure to the wearer, and are anything but a party gimmick.
"The emphasis is very much on good cut and high quality materials," Lien said. "It overturns the conventional idea that underpants are not intended to be seen. Now they are as much a fashion statement as any other item of our clothing. They are an item of clothing that we must change regularly, so there is no reason why they shouldn't also be interesting from a fashion perspective."
Lien primarily imports Japanese labels such as Dugas, pointing out that these are more suitable for an Asian figure. "Asians can't always fill out the fuller cut in the buttocks of some of the US labels," Lien said, "and if they're baggy and ill-fitting, they really don't look good."
Where: Body Formula has two locations, one at 14, Ln 205, Zhongxiao E Rd Sec 4, Taipei (台北市忠孝東路四段205巷14號), the other at 10A, 72-1 Xining S Rd, Taipei City (台北市西寧南路72-1號1樓10A室)
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Lien started his business after returning from studying in Japan. "My friends would often ask me to bring back pants from Japan because they were not available in Taiwan." Now, such fashionable underwear has already made it into some of the hipper local department stores, and Lien is looking for new labels to add to his already wide section.