A lot of attention is reserved for the global underwear market, which was valued at more than $110 billion in 2014 by intelligence publisher Euromonitor. But much of the loud and showy proportion of that seems to be directed at the women’s side, and with the way most of it’s marketed – all glossy and pushed-up – it’s not hard to see why.
This neglect of the male underwear market is what drove Olivia Francis to build a business dedicated to recreating basic briefs and boosting an “almost forgotten” category. “Other luxury players have shown a real lack of innovation and a reluctance to move with the times,” says Francis. “In the context of the rapid growth of the menswear market as a whole – which is growing at twice the rate of womenswear – I thought this seemed very odd. I wanted to offer men something better for their choice of underwear.”
Having worked as an account director for clients such as Nokia and GlaxoSmithKline, Francis is well-versed in the intricacies of building a brand, as well as thinking in a different way. In 2012, the London-born entrepreneur founded Hamilton and Hare, a premium underwear brand aimed at changing the way men get dressed. “There are numerous studies that commend the psychological advantages of wearing good underwear,” says Francis. “It’s the first thing on, the last thing off and comfort is a huge factor that can have a real impact on your day.”
The first project Francis embarked on was rethinking the traditional boxer, a style more commonly associated with the garishly-printed baggy shorts favoured by adolescents. “I wanted to update it, improve it and make it suitable for modern dressing,” says Olivia. She recruited the Savile Row-trained Graham Tuckett to work on the design, creating a unique six-piece pattern slim enough to wear under narrow trousers, yet without inhibiting movement. The end result fits comfortably close to the body, with a flat-fronted waistband, elasticated side panels and a two-button closure at the fly.