The choice between boxers or briefs is one that has only been available for about 80 years. For the century prior, about 1830 on, the prevalent underwear for men was the “Union Suit”, or something you might call long-johns. A full-body flannel suit, sometimes using the infamous buttoned bum-flap.
Boxer shorts are so-named because they were designed to be worn by boxers of the people-who-punch-each-other-for-fun variety. The elastic-banded shorts replacing the heavier leather belted lace-up shorts used up to that point. They were created by Jacob Golomb, founder of the sport supply company Everlast.
The jump from the ring to the underwear drawer was not fast for boxer shorts. They didn’t really catch on until after World War II, and it wasn’t until the 1980s that they became the medium for secretive self-expression and high-fashion that they are today.
Briefs, however, had a more pronounced impact with their debut in 1935. Arthur Kneibler was the “apparel engineer” responsible for the invention. Inspired by a postcard from France featuring a picture of a man in a swimsuit, he went about creating underwear of the same sort.
Their first day in a Chicago department store sold 600 “Jockey Shorts”, as they were named. The new jockey shorts received as much support as they provided, and their success spread across the world rapidly. While they are known as briefs in North America, the British refer to them as Y-fronts, for the signature overlapping fly that was part of the original design.
- Source: “The Undercover Story” – The Independent
A personal note from Ryan: I am participating in the “Underwear Affair” fundraiser for cancers below the waist. (Ovarian, testicular, prostate, etc.) I sure would appreciate it if you would donate to my team! Even 5 or 10 bucks would help. Donate online here.