Get your tighty whities from Mr Porter. [photo: Mr Porter]
According to Marks & Spencer, the purveyors of sensible underwear to most of the Pommy population, around half of their men’s underwear is bought by women. And they’re coming increasingly close to out-buying them.
Of course, it’s hard to ascertain exactly how many pairs women are purchasing for husbands, boyfriends, papas and sons and how many for themselves, but the retail chain claims the figure “does suggest that men’s underwear is a common consideration for women”.
And why not? Any woman who has found herself donning a pair – perhaps out of sheer necessity after an evening of debauchery has compromised the panties you put on at the start of the day – knows that men’s underwear is gloriously comfy. They hit that sweet spot between quality, price, practicality and adequate coverage. And shouldn’t that be what everyone looks for in a pair of pants?
American Apparel's unisex rib briefs. [photo: American Apparel]
Of course, men and women are shaped very differently, but it’s hard to beat the sturdy band and extra roominess around the front bottom that briefs and jockey shorts provide (aren’t we always told to let ‘it’ breathe and to protect the delicate eco-system that is our nether regions?). Y-fronts and boxers are no longer the sole preserve of men. They’re the best things to sleep in, if you ask us, and are a welcome alternative to the polyester thongs and frivolous lace inserts of our youth.
One of Marks & Spencer’s most popular collections, designed by that great hunk of spunk David Gandy, is as much for women as it is for men, featuring a range of cotton boxers that are sophisticated and luxe. According to the retailer, Gandy “did design his collection very much with women in mind”.
And it’s not just high street peddling the trend. Cooler-than-thou Swedish label Acne has recently launched a line of ‘gender-neutral’ no-frills underpants, while Calvin Klein has reissued their original pairs from the ‘90s as part of their #mycalvins campaign. American Apparel has been doing brightly coloured Y-fronts for years. Whether you opt for the classic three-pack from Target or more upscale picks from Mr Porter, they’re just the things you need for maintaining your modesty from bedroom to loo and back again.
Are we looking at the latest turn in unisex fashion? We certainly hope so. A marked departure from sexy shapewear and a step towards equality.