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DESIGNING MEN
The United Nations of Underwear
by Duane Wells

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Not so very long ago, men’s underwear was a mere afterthought. In a fashion category dominated by names like Fruit of the Loom and Hanes, undergarments were something one needed rather than something one wanted. In recent years, however, that dynamic has begun to change. Ever since Calvin Klein plastered billboards with images of “Marky” Mark Wahlberg wearing nothing more than a tight-fitting pair of white boxer briefs, a backwards baseball cap, and a smile, the world of men’s underwear has experienced a seismic shift as the industry exploded with new designer labels and lines. Today, an international cast of designers and entrepreneurs has entered this rapidly growing fashion segment, and in many cases, bringing with them a flavor and style that genuinely reflects not only the tastes of the designers themselves, but also of the destinations that have inspired them. This month, Passport introduces you to five of the hottest new underwear brands from around the world and the men behind them. Individually and collectively, this band of underwear kings is shaking up the fashion monde, one pair of skivvies at a time.

JASON SUTHERLAND
PISS & VINEGAR, CANADA

As the founder and former president of the hugely popular Ginch Gonch label, Jason Sutherland is no stranger to breaking new ground in the men’s underwear category. Quite the contrary, he’s a bit of a legend in it, but even Jason had no idea that he would make his mark on the world with his undies.

STEPHEN RISTEFSKY & VINCENT MACHEDA RISTEFSKY MACHEDA, AUSTRALIA
If there’s one thing that Stephen Ristefsky is clear about, it’s that the Ristefsky Macheda (www.ristefskymacheda.com) brand is more about sophisticated design, high-end fabrication, and an up-market clientele, than it is about gimmicky, cutesy prints and styles.

BRIAN EDGAR
EXPOSE, COLOMBIA

Canadian-born Brian Edgar spent years as an executive in the fashion industry working for the likes of Tommy Hilfiger and several European brands before deciding to get into the men’s underwear game with the Colombia-based Expose (www.ex­pose­underwear.com). In fact, it was on a trip to Colombia to do sourcing for one of his previous employers that Brian first fell in love with the country. On that initial visit, Brian began developing the relationships with factories there that would shape his inspiration for a new underwear brand.

ANDERSON PRATA
ELEMENTOS, BRAZIL

Peruse the sexy, primal, body-hugging styles in Brazilian designer Anderson Prata’s recently launched Elementos (www.elementosbrazil.com) underwear and swimwear lines, and you’d probably never guess they were the brainchild of a former accountant.

TIM WILDMAN
WILDMAN T, USA

Unlike many of the other underwear brands to pop onto the radar in recent years, Tim Wildman’s saucy, sexy WildmanT (www.wildmant.com) brand began with a caffeine-fueled practical joke, rather than a business plan. Though Tim studied fashion design at Syracuse University and always had an interest in underwear, nothing in design school gave him any insight into how to get into the men’s underwear business, which at the time was only beginning to emerge as a breakout fashion category. His passion stifled, Tim got sidelined in the publishing business in New York and ultimately launched his own web design company after moving to Palm Springs, California years later.

[Published: October, 2010]

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