When we think about inventors having their “Eureka” moments, we rarely consider the time it takes between identifying a problem and then fulfilling that much-needed solution. For this Pacific Northwest brand, that process took almost three years, and 172 iterations of its world changing underwear — specifically designed for active people — before it hit its stride.
Eager to learn from two tenacious entrepreneurs, M&F sat down with company owners, and longtime friends, Aaron Prosser and Patrick Rogers, to find out how they finally developed a style of compression shorts that more than compete in a nearly $5 billion compression short industry in North America, and making it as a two-person startup in a market dominated by mega corporations is a challenge to say the least.
“When you think of underwear theres not much to it, but then there are so many levels,” says Prosser.
If Your Compression isn’t Comfortable, Neither Is Your Training
Comfort is everything when selecting your briefs, and yet it was this lack of comfort that started it all for Prosser, a former college lacrosse player who experienced the discomfort firsthand. During his college days he had envisioned himself in the athleticwear field, but never guessed underwear would be his calling.
“At the time, there weren’t that many compression shorts out there,” Prosser says. “And I had super bad chafing and super sensitive skin. So I was trying everything. And then after college, I saw the need for [better compression gear]. At the time there weren’t a lot out there. And so I wanted to get into the industry no one would hire me so I use this as a leverage point like fix the problem with compression shorts.”
Prosser explains that it took nearly 200 different variations of stitching and fabric to finally get a pair to Pacterra’s standards. “The main thing we fixed was going for chafing, starting with skin feel, and then also separating the seams from the friction zone,” says Prosser. One of the ways that this smooth fit was achieved was through an unobtrusive three-layer build.
Rogers, on the other hand, worked at Nike before joining his pal in a lifechanging decision to perfect their own brand. Pacterra’s offerings, such as the “Middy” and “Strider” are the end result of a ton of business trials and tribulations not least of which was COVID, but the men behind the vision have stayed strong, and their compression shorts are changing the game. According to the pair of ex-lacrosse teammates, these briefs fit like a dream and since they won’t chafe, your mood will be significantly better all day long.
“I honestly feel like we make the best product in the world just in the sense of whenever we’re sending to anyone or there’s never any worries of they’re not going to like this,” Rogers says. “I’m excited to hear what they think from a getting our name out there and growing the business.”
Back Riser for Muscular butts
During his thousands of hours of research and development, Prosser also recognized something that seemed blindingly obvious, and yet many of the major labels were failing to take this into account: athletic men have more muscular butts.
So, in constructing their smalls, Pacterra went bigger on the butt. They re-designed the back rise, to compensate for gigantic glutes. These shorts feature a Jacquard elastic waistband constructed for a more locked-in fit with less riding. “ Just as impressive, Rogers says, that even Pacterra may cost a little more when compared to what you may find on Amazon, their product is built to last wash after wash, workout after workout. “We’re a little pricier than some options I think still affordable but they’re made to last I have pairs that are six years old that I still wear. We’re not making these to have them break down.
Making the world a better place
There are other product features that set Pacterra apart, such as the fact that they were one of the first companies to develop a secure pocket. But along with innovative product features, this brand also believes in “progress through fitness” in order to benefit the wider community.
Getting the word out on their product remains a challenge for the pair. This is Rogers’ job, playing the role of marketing manager while Prosser focuses on design. “My biggest strength just being a pest.” Rogers jokes. “I have no shame when it comes to messaging people. But I really want people to try the product because I know once they do, they’re going to feel that difference and know that it’s not just a gimmick product.”
Pacterra is also making the world a better place by working hard on the concept of sustainability. And, one of the most impressive ways that they are doing this is through focussing on re-use. Pacterra donates stock to youth sports teams and dance troupes. They also partner with a local non-profit, that takes in their old inventory and returns, enabling homeless veterans in Portland, where the duo grew up, to offer those that are in need, the same fit and comfort as everyone else. These are new or barely used pieces, that are thoroughly reconditioned. “(Underwear is) still one of the number one most needed items for (the) houseless,” explains Prosser.
If you believe in “progress through fitness” visit: https://pacterraathletics.com/