The Battle of Boxers Vs. Briefs

Breezy boxers or tighty-whities – which variety of undergarment do you favour? Josh Sims weighs in on an age-old debate.
THAT Levi’s 1985 advert.

It was modesty that saved the day. Thirty-five years ago this year Levi’s launched a TV ad. Set in the 1950s, it featured a male model who goes into a launderette and, in order to wash the clothes he’s wearing, strips down. The ad prompted a reported 800% increase in sales of Levi’s 501s. But it also had an unexpected side effect: it revived the boxer short. That might not have happened. The ad agency behind the promo had originally wanted to put the model in a more nut-hugging, budgie-smuggling pair of pants (that’s underwear for our American readers). But the Advertising Standards Authority said no.

Those decisions spoke to the division between the two kinds of underwear that has long existed and which has been sustained over the years since. On the one hand, loose-fitting, rather traditional, classic but perhaps fuddy-duddy boxer shorts; on the other hand, body-conscious, athletic but perhaps rather adolescent y-fronts and similar styles. If men are separated by their allegiances to sports teams, political policies and tastes in music, so too by what they choose to wear to keep their privates from being on parade.


    January 2022


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