Duluth Trading gets cheeky with its new underwear store at the Mall of America

John Ewoldt, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Business News

MINNEAPOLIS -- When an underwear store opens in 2019 with a "Museum of Man" inside, it can only mean Duluth Trading Co. is up to something again.

The company's impish ads for "Ballroom Jeans," "Fire Hose workpants," and "Longtail T-shirts that fix plumber's butt" have long elicited chuckles, eyerolls and occasionally criticism.

"We offend people," said Ricker Schlect, a vice president for Duluth Trading and son of owner Steve Schlect. "We get letters. We dance on the line a lot with ball jokes and butt cracks. Some people don't want to hear it, but we want people to have a smile on their face when they interact with our brand."

The company's new store opening Thursday on the Mall of America's first floor north is its first-ever devoted only to men's underwear.

It's much smaller, just 1,600 square feet, than its normal stores that carry its broader assortment of workwear for men and women, shoes, jackets and accessories.

The Mall of America store is a prototype that Duluth Trading may take to other malls and locations. As ever, Schlect's goal is to entertain.


The Museum of Man that is interspersed among the boxers and briefs is a sendup of museum solemnity. It has placards of Amazing Ball Moments "Yes, history really can be a ball," and "How does it feel to go Buck Naked?"

To advertise "Buck Naked" skivvies that are meant to feel like a guy is going commando, the store has a "Nothing Sensation Stimulator." Shoppers can thrust their hands into an empty, clear plexiglass box to experience the feeling of wearing nothing.

A mural by Minnesota artist Adam Turman features Duluth Trading's potbellied man named Buck wearing nothing but Buck Naked underwear. To reinforce the company's Minnesota heritage, he's holding a spoon and cherry while underwear-clad loons fly near the Duluth Lift Bridge and a boat with sails puffed out in the shape of boxer shorts.

"Duluth Trading is one of those great clients who took me along for the ride," Turman said. "It was fun."


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