Men’s underwear expert Jane Garner has gone in search of the answer to one of the fashion industry’s biggest questions – boxers or briefs?
“I don’t believe there is a single answer,” says Jane, who has worked as a fashion journalist specialising both women’s and men’s ‘intimates’ for more than 25 years and founded specialist men’s underpants website Deadgoodundies.com with Adam Davies in 2007.
“I’ve spent the last few weeks talking to men’s underwear brands all over the world about their 2015 best sellers and predictions for 2016, and it’s never as simple as men choosing boxers or briefs. Collections that are dominated by boxer shorts and trunks shaped undies will obviously have sales figures favouring the deeper cuts. Many of the more avant garde names, especially those with ranges focusing more on the trends for lingerie for men and male fetish influences, certainly see massive demand for briefs – from a micro bikini brief to thong and string underwear for men,” Jane explains.
Pushed further, a handful of designers admitted that many consumers buy more than one style these days. Men are famously loyal, sometimes to just one brand, one style, always in the same fabric and colour.
“It can be hard to persuade them to try something new, never mind totally different,” Jane admits. “At Deadgoodundies we always give customers as much warning as possible when a favourite is going to be discontinued or replaced with something new. Often the successor is even better than the original, but die-hard fans snap up all the current stock before it disappears.
“Brands drop all-time best sellers, and even some seasonal fashion ranges that really hit the mark, at their peril. DGU has been known to buy up the last stock of a true favourite, so we’re the only supplier worldwide with any left.”
Jane’s latest research proves that the boxers versus briefs debate will never end, because there isn’t a simple answer. While men’s tastes change far more gradually than women’s in lingerie, there will always be room in the market for everything from loose fitting woven cotton boxers to the teeniest thongs.
“The massive growth in online sales of men’s underwear is a key factor in who buys what these days,” Jane concludes. “Instead of picking up some new kecks at the supermarket or in a high street chainstore, a growing number of men are buying their own pants and enjoying the massive selection provided by websites. Browsing online is less of a chore than traipsing to the shops, where the choice is limited and only changes from season to season, rather than week to week as it does on the internet. Shopping for men’s underwear from retailers like Deadgoodundies is also totally private – DGU parcels are completely plain, so there are no clues!”
Brands also told Jane that where the UK market in men’s undies goes, others follow: “If men here like a collection or a particular style, that often indicates potential for good international sales. The guys here might have a reputation for being rather conservative, but they’re as fashionable and daring as any other nationality underneath it all – well at least under their suit or jeans…”