SHOP TALK: Nir Zilberman of the ManTrends Agency

Nir Zilberman is a man on a mission. He’s out to upend the underwear industry, and he doesn’t care who knows it.

His brand agency, Mantrends, has one of the most unique portfolios in the industry. Representing ES Collection, STUD, Addicted, Freedom Reigns, James Tudor and several more, he represents the premium end of the market. The way he holds court in his booth at underwear trade shows is, by now, legendary and makes you think you’re watching a reality TV show. And, his agency’s showroom gives him the luxury of displaying his brands exactly the way that he wants them to be displayed.

After a successful career at Estée Lauder developing their high-end lifestyle salons, Zilberman decided that he wanted to turn his talents to men’s underwear. Enter Mantrends. “We, as an agency, decided to take underwear to the next level” said Zilberman. “What’s powerful about it is that everybody was laughing at us, but three years later everyone wants to carry our brands. Promoting the philosophy and strategy of the brands is how we win.”

Through a combination of savvy negotiating and inborn panache, Zilberman has creatively overhauled many of the brands in his stable, involving himself to a minute degree with the details of photo shoots, imaging, product design and retail. Most dramatically, he U-turned Freedom Reigns from a fetish accessories brand that sold at leather shows to a premium athletic, fashion-forward brands around.

Hewing to his philosophy of “work smart instead of working hard,” Zilberman hosts monthly parties and fashion shows at his showroom on Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles to attract and maintain his base. “My philosophy is: you need to follow what you’re good at. Take a brand and make it successful not by selling to everyone but by selling in very specific places. Its very important that people know every brand in the agency is not desperate.”

Nir is indeed very particular about selling his brand only in very specific places, and it clearly pays off.  “We started selling on Fire Island at the store Gostoso for the summer season. By July 1st, they had sold out. And now Lloyd’s in London cannot keep us stocked.”

This guy is clearly on a roll. And if he succeeds in his plan to take men’s underwear to a new level, we’ll all benefit. If he doesn’t reach perfection, well, at least he’ll still be Nir.