Men's underwear used to have two relatively dull options: boxers or briefs. Then boxer-briefs came along and boom—there were three variations—but frankly the pickings were still slim (you want white or black?). In recent years, the market for men's undergarments has grown exponentially; underwear was the fastest-growing category of menswear in 2012, up 13 percent to $2.4 billion in 2013, according to the NPD Group market-research company. We can't say for sure whether this shift in shopping habits is because of changes in supply or demand, but there's no question that men are finally embracing more extreme styles, newer fabrics, and exotic tweaks in tailoring. In other words, there's a whole new support network out there.
New Colors, Mostly Neon
Take a look at how the brand Garçon Model embraces energetic neon hues—lime green and pink in its Lincoln and Mansion briefs—and you'll see exactly how undergarments have jumped out of the black-and-white world. The bold shades really pop, especially against darker contrasts. Teamm8's Jump line and N2N's Signature line both use vibrant colors in an even more flirty way, letting the color-blocked accents emphasize the pouch. Papi's Dusk to Dawn collection takes neon colors to another level with an attractive ombré-style gradient that is echoed on the waistband. 2(X)IST, which has been around since 1991, is also in the color game, especially with its Prints No-Show brief line featuring patterns and stripes in seasonal color options. And finally, from Australia, there's the aptly named aussieBum, which offers a "kaleidoscope" design on its Billy brief.
Better Materials, Not Just Cotton
We've come a long way from the days of standard cotton. The Mosmann M-Series, for instance, utilizes modal fabric, made from beech trees, which feels luxurious and fits like a second skin. Modal, a variation on rayon, is said to be more absorbent than cotton or synthetic fabrics, takes dye well, and has an especially soft texture. Tani uses variations on modal from Spain and Austria in its luxury products, too. Silk pops up in some of the offerings from Derek Rose, but some of its highest-end looks are actually made from 100 percent cotton—a special kind of pima cotton known to be durable and lightweight. The brand Naked uses pima and modal to make its briefs feel virtually nonexistent—for those who want to feel almost naked (of course, you can always take them off for the full effect).Tommy John, a brand actually founded by a guy named Tom Patterson, turns to a different source—beyond cotton, silk, or rayon—in its Cool Cotton and Second Skin collections: moisture-wicking polyester. Yes, polyester, though you wouldn't know it.
Advances in Tailoring
The least anticipated revolution in men's undergarment tailoring? Changes to the pouch and the waistband. Mack Weldon produces classic looks that fit really well with smart updates: strategically placed mesh cool zones (where men tend to sweat) and waistbands and legs that emphasize comfortable fit in the elastic. If you've ever complained about having the waistband or the legs move up and down too much, you'll also appreciate new designs from C-IN2, which has developed the perfect amount of tension for keeping everything in place. Obviously goes several steps further in the pouch department; it offers several different types of sacks, one designed to fit free and anatomically, another aiming for slimness, and yet another gunning for maximum support (you can see a comparative illustration here). PUMP! designs briefs with leg elastics that are so strong and sturdy that they actually lift and accentuate your butt. The idea is not unique to them: Rounderbumfeatures anatomical cups, butt enhancing styles, and a unique Y-cut waist in the back.
This last point is important: Underwear brands can no longer just be comfy or fit well. Men are expecting to make their bodies look better, too. So if you don't like what the classic Y-front does for you, take a look at the contour pouches—where the pouch features a center seam for extra room and definition—from Calvin Klein, teamm8, and Marco Marco. Coming soon, no doubt, to a billboard near you.
This Article originally appeared on Details