BY AJ TRAGER
CANTON – New York City is often described as one of the four fashion capitols of the world, along with London, Paris and Milan. Jerome Fulton, 28, moved to NYC when he was just 19 to pursue his degree in fashion. He transfered to the Fashion Institute of Technology after just two years at Western Michigan University to harness his passion for fashion into skills that would be most marketable in the fashion industry.
Fulton has neither a background in business nor a degree in marketing. While in fashion school, Fulton studied everything from entrepreneurship to pattern craft but found the marketing aspect of running his own business to be particularly difficult. He remained largely undaunted and just a few years later decided to invest in his own line of clothes — a design that is super comfortable, colorful, moves with the body and is a little sexy, too.
“I’m always buying new underwear, I like celebrity gossip and I like fashion,” Fulton joked describing his interests and how he chose the idea to make his own line of underwear. He wanted something that was fun, was fashion related and incorporated what he was already spending his money on — underwear.
“I was just having fun. I didn’t know that it would actually turn into anything other than just me and my little sewing machine,” he said.
His line of sexy, stretchy men’s boutique underwear didn’t get off the ground until 2014 when Fulton turned his ideas into a brand and designated his business as an LLC. The collection went on sale this year exactly at midnight, ringing in the morning of May 1. Fulton sold his first pair to a gentleman in Texas just one minute before the launch of his website.
“I think underwear has the power to alter and change your mood,” Fulton said. “When I put on a good pair of underwear, I feel sexy. You may not be able to see it but I’m walking around and I’m super confident all day under my suit or my skinny jeans. Like, I’m feeling sexy and you don’t know why. Underwear has that power. I don’t think a shirt can do that for you.”
Below The Belt is a company dedicated to changing the way men see underwear and even the way that they see themselves. Fulton designed the pieces to allow men to feel confident, comfortable and sexy by providing a style that combines new, hot trends and a cutting edge design for the man who “dares to go there, who isn’t afraid to be adventurous and is looking to add a little dash of spice to his wardrobe.”
“Underwear is the first thing you put on your body — or at least it is the first thing I put on. So that’s how I start my day and that is what sets the mood for what I’m wearing,” Fulton described.
Buyers like products that are locally designed and made in America which is something Fulton prides himself on when it comes to his product. The fit, quality of construction and materials set Below The Belt apart from competitors like Haynes.
“I wanted to offer something fun but also luxurious at the same time,” he said.
Each piece in his collection has a custom woven 1.5 inch waistband that is super soft and moves with the body. The waistband, which shows off the brand name, doesn’t fold under like most underwear styles, he says, and is the key aspect to his product besides the elastic he engineered to wrap around the leg.
The elastic on each of the legs was designed to hold and keep everything in place while the cotton, spandex and polyester blend fabric moves and stretches with the body.
“It’s a pet peeve of mine when I have to continue to adjust my underwear throughout the day,” Fulton explained. “I don’t think anyone likes that.”
Gearing up to launch the brand, Fulton had to source all of the fabrics, meet with the manufacturers, get trims and threads and had to get the elastic made. He encountered some setbacks with the waistband, but he is very pleased with his “Classic Collection” that is currently available online.
Fulton wants to get the product in larger department stores but the first logical steps for him are to establish a web presence, develop a customer base and then take it to a larger department store.
Since the launch in May, Fulton has sold a few hundred pairs. He had a booth at Motor City Pride, which he said really helped to boost sales and have face-to-face conversations to see what the community’s reactions were to his hot, fearless fuchsia briefs and trunks.
“I get super excited whenever I get a sale,” Fulton said. “Especially when it is someone that I don’t know. It’s great to see your friends in it. But when you get complete strangers, that’s amazing. My favorite part of it though was when my friend screen shot me a picture of someone’s dating profile and they were wearing my underwear in their picture. And it’s like people feel sexy in my product and they want to show that off; that makes them feel good, that means that they are being well received and that people like them. And that’s what I wanted.”
The line includes top of the line briefs, trunks and boxer briefs in four feisty colors: fearless fuchsia, graphic grey, rebellious red and teasing turquoise. Visit the website at http://btbunderwearonline.com/ or the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BTBunderwear/ to pick up a pair for you or someone on your holiday shopping list. Fulton is offering a 25 percent discount to all Between The Lines purchasers. Use promo code “SW1EE34RJ” when purchasing online.