The United Nations of Underwear
by Duane Wells
Not so very long ago, mens 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 mens 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.
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 mens underwear category. Quite
the contrary, hes 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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