History of mens underwear

It was not very long ago that ‘men’s underwear’ barely even had a profile as an industry. Y-fronts were y-fronts and you bought them, or more usually, had them bought for you as an unimaginative christmas present, purely to serve their basic function.  ‘Design’, ‘look’ or ‘appeal’ were not words associated with male underwear. So before we look at the current men’s underwear market and the relatively wide spectrum of styles, fabrics and brands available today, lets look at the history of the male undergarment.

How did the humble underpants begin, an assembly of fig leaves, a loin cloth perhaps?  Certainly, the emphasis has always been on function over form.  Men need an undergarment that is durable, washable and follows the male form, whichever way you lean! Well, in 1991 we gained some insight into early male underwear.  A group of mountaineers hiking through the Tyrolean Alps found a frozen and preserved man from just over 5000 years ago who was wearing a leather loincloth!  Even Tutankhamen was buried with supply of over 100 loincloths for the afterlife!

Shepherds in France as late as the 1800’s were still wearing loincloth underwear. Then in the 1900’s we had two world wars and this strangely necessitated some innovation and improvement in this most essential clothing item for men. Shorts with buttons on a yoke were developed and in World War II side-tie shorts were introduced as well as new fabrics like Rayon. In the 1900’s many new designs were ‘patented’ and advertising with messages of increased comfort and accessibility began to reach a globally undergarment starved population of men.


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