On Wednesday I saw a group of people wearing nothing but underwear walking through the Melbourne CBD. They were promoting Pants To Poverty which is a UK based underwear company that sells Organic Fair-Trade underpants . The corporate web site seems equally divided between the purposes of selling underpants and lobbying for a variety of social issues including fair-trade, better working conditions in factories, and the abolition of pesticides that kill farmers.
The web site itself is worth a look in terms of it’s design, for what it does it works really well. When viewing a picture of a model wearing underpants you can scroll your mouse over the picture to see an enlarged view of a particular area of interest. This works really well on a Netbook display (everyone should carry a Netbook with 3G net access when shopping), I would like to see car companies use the same technique for displaying pictures of cars on small screen devices. It’s unfortunate that it doesn’t just show the full sized images when you use a large display, it would all fit on a 1680*1050 display.
The underwear in the UK costs between 10 pounds ($16.40AU) and 15 pounds ($24.60AU) a pair for adults and 18 pounds ($29.52AU) a pair for a pack of three for children. The Little Green Bag Co  sells the adult underpants in Australia for $22AU per pair. These appear to be the cheaper items from the range, so it seems that it would be cheaper to order from the UK if you were buying a few pairs. Also if the items you wanted happened to be the more expensive items from the range then you would have to order from the UK.
A quick check of the Myer web site shows that even $22 per pair isn’t particularly expensive for women’s underwear, but it is really expensive for men’s underwear. The Australian web site for Pants to Poverty lists a bunch of resellers, but a quick scan of the list didn’t turn up anyone cheaper than the Little Green Bag Co.
According to the “sizing information” on the home page of the UK site the largest underpants that they sell are “size 14” (in the Australian size range for women which is apparently 78-83cm). According to a variety of news reports the average size of an Australian women is either size 14 or 14-16. Apparently women’s clothing is often not made to standard sizes due to the practice of vanity sizing, so it’s difficult to determine how these things compare. But it does seem that a significant portion of the women in Australia won’t be able to buy products from Pants To Poverty in their size.
I don’t think that many men will buy from them, $22 is really expensive.
So while I think it’s great to have a bunch of men and women running around the CBD wearing only underwear I don’t think that the future of their Australian business is particularly good.
The difference in price between Pants To Poverty products and other underwear would allow you to buy a significant quantity of Organic Fair Trade chocolate or other food.