Sex & Relationships

Paying Hundreds of Dollars for Used Panties? Secrets of the Underwear Fetishist

Is it the scent, the material, the taboo, or the trophy aspect that used panties buyers find so enticing?

The fetish for used underwear (and bras, stockings, socks, and even items like soiled tampons) is becoming increasingly popular in the sex world. Just how popular? Well, a 10-minute search online yielded numerous sites that facilitate the buying and selling of used garments. Sites like usedpantyportal.com, pantydeal.com, pantybid.com, usedpanty.com, and wornpanty.com are just a small sample, and include pictures, membership profiles for both buyers and the ladies whose panties are for sale, guides for success, forums, advice, and in some cases, videos to entice men (and a few women) into purchasing their (under)wares. Many of these sites serve as a kind of social network for panty fetishists (though surprisingly, Lacebook doesn’t yet exist. Get on that, panty-preneurs!).

Pantysniffing as a fetish varies from person to person, but generally involves eroticizing a person’s stained garments, and can include urine stains, vaginal fluid or mucus stains, menstrual blood stains, and even feces stains. Many panty fetishists find the odor of the stains arousing, and having a visual aid makes the fantasy that much more realistic. One such buyer, D.S., told me via e-mail, “The most erotic thing about used panties is the connection with the seller--having something she purposely wore just for me and masturbated in just for me, so I can have that intimate part of her. The smell is a very strong part of it, but for me the smell of her vagina is the best--I do not get off on pee or bum or anything else.”

Lucy’s foray into selling her used panties started by accident, with a casual remark to a guy she had an on-and-off relationship with. “It was more off than on because he was a big jerk. But we had this weird connection, and I think it's accurate to say he was obsessed with me sexually. One day he was over, and he saw me about to throw away some ripped fishnets and asked if he could keep them. Without thinking, I jokingly said, ‘Sure, for $20.’ He whipped out his wallet immediately. That's how it started.”

The country that brought us tentacle porn and Hello Kitty is also responsible for introducing the Western world to the buying and selling of used panties. Burusera shops, which are still around in Japan and translate to “bloomer sellers,” stock the undergarments of Catholic school girls (often with a photo of the girl wearing the item, for “authenticity”). Up until a few years ago, you could even purchase used panties in Japan from vending machines, as documented by many perplexed and fascinated tourists on YouTube. Officials have attempted to curb the burusera fetish trade--in 2004, Tokyo banned the selling of used underwear from girls under 18, but the ban didn’t exactly work as intended. Burusera shops went underground and the blackmarket price for panties increased fivefold.  

Here in the U.S., the used panty selling trend is (thankfully) geared toward adult women. Amber, the thirtysomething creator of LaceInYourFace.com, whom D.S. buys from, says “the demand for panties from honest, caring, attentive, alluring, creative women who are not focused solely on money is very high. From what I have been told, it's hard to find all of those characteristics in many of the women who end up trying to sell their wares and they are not necessarily aspects that can be screened for by anyone other than patrons.”

In many ways, the idea of a woman selling her soiled underwear to a stranger seems too good to be true. If the demand is so high, why aren’t we seeing more used-thong millionaires? It turns out that to be successful, it takes more than a quickly dashed off Craigslist post or a salacious eBanned picture. Establishing and maintaining relationships with patrons is an integral part of the sellers’ success. Amber says, “I absolutely think that most patrons need to have a personal connection with panty sellers in order for them to want to buy their panties. This has been my personal experience, and I think that my awareness of it greatly contributes to me having return patrons. Having my personal site (my personal world!) really helps facilitate this need, I think, as does connecting via Twitter.”

Nicole, a pro-domme who tried to sell used garments unsuccessfully in college, but now regularly sells her used stockings to clients, agrees. “I think the buyers want a personal connection to the person selling the stockings or panties. I don't think just knowing that the garments are used is enough for your average fetishist. The people I have seen be successful at it put a lot of work into crafting an online persona and usually offer other services like domme-ing or phone sex with it.”

“The connection is very important,” echoes D.S. who is married, but says his partner does not know about his fetish. “I do not go around searching strange laundry hampers for dirty panties.”

Used panties can cost anywhere from $10 to hundreds of dollars, depending on how long they’ve been worn, and whether they are accompanied by photos or videos of the seller. Amber says she now wears panties for clients 26 days out of the month, but that she still gets about five e-mails per week from men interested in her underwear. “I wish I had two vaginas!” she says.

As further proof of the proliferation of the used panty fetish, look no further than the Panty Trust, a “member-run non-profit advocacy and verification organization for the used panties and fetish industry.” The Panty Trust has been around since 2001 and offers “education, third party verification, and dispute resolution services” among other things. While the Trust exists to verify the veracity of the goods being sold, D.S. claims he has had some issues with P.T. sellers. “I have bought stuff from two of their sellers; one ripped me off completely, no panties at all and lost my money, the other sent me something that was obviously unworn at all.” This begs the question: If you can’t trust the entity that’s supposed to regulate panty sniffing, who can you trust? This also further reiterates the importance of having a buyer/seller connection. “You take your chances when you buy something like this,” D.S. continues. “If you do not establish some sort of relationship with the seller, then you are going to eventually get ripped off.”

Amber claims to value the connections she has with her buyers, and has, as she says, “ended up being friends with most of my patrons.” Lucy’s experience was also positive. “I made at least $1,000 over the course of a year with things I was just going to discard anyway. And it was kind of hot, honestly. This guy was worshiping me in his own strange way. He wanted me, but he wasn't good enough to have me anymore. All he could have was my trash, and only for a price.”

Whether it’s the scent, the material, the taboo, or the trophy aspect that used garment buyers find so enticing, it appears the industry will not be slowing down anytime soon, even if the phenomenon remains largely under our noses.

Anna Pulley is the author of the recenty released The Lesbian Haiku Book (with Cats). Follow @annapulley on Twitter.