The Evolution of Men’s Underwear

April 13, 2023

The Evolution of Men’s Underwear

Let’s have a heart to heart for a moment. You see that material closest to your body that’s housing your nether regions? Your underwear does a lot more for you than you might think! 

From providing support to keeping you cool and dry downstairs, your all-important foundation layer has got you covered (literally and figuratively). 

But have you ever stopped to think about why your underwear looks and functions as it does? Probably not. After all, the concept of underwear is seemingly so simple. However, the truth is men’s underwear as we know it today has actually been thousands of years in the making. 

From simple modesty strips to game-enhancing performance underwear, let’s take a look at the evolution of underwear and how it got to where it is today. 

The Humble Loincloth

Dating back almost 7,000 years, early male underwear was rudimentary, to say the least! It consisted of a single piece of cloth or animal hide draped over the hips and groin area. While this look was favored by the early Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians, in many other parts of the world, outerwear doubled up as underwear - a long shirt, for instance - or men simply went without. Coverage was mostly the name of the game, although some protection against injury and infection was included. This look was effective enough to last for several millennia and can even still be found in some cultures across the world. 

The Invention of Drawers

Changing needs and fashions prompted the creation of the underwear that first started to resemble that which we know of today. Drawers were two pieces of cloth (one for each leg) that were attached to a waistband. These were brought together and tightened using a drawstring (hence the same). As going to the toilet in this getup was a clumsy affair, a flap was introduced to the front, and this was the basis for the now infamous codpiece. Made increasingly (ahem!) prominent as time went on, then decorated, and finally even padded, the codpiece strangely doubled up as a place to store your purse. 

The Rise of Long Johns

As outerwear morphed from more voluminous breeches to tighter-fitting trousers, early drawers became less comfortable to wear, so they were modified for a more snug fit thanks to advancements in cloth-making technology. Modesty also became the flavor of the day, banishing the codpiece and extending underwear down the leg. And… cue the long john. Supposedly named for the American boxer John L. Sullivan who made these long-legged undergarments famous in the ring, long johns gained popularity among the men of the early 20th century and are still worn by many today to help keep warm in the winter. 

The Advent of Boxers

Boxing continued to influence male underwear when, in 1925, Jacob Golomb, founder of Everlast, created an elasticated, more lightweight version of the short boxers that had been worn up until that time. With better waist control and a less restrictive fit, they boosted footwork performance, and so they became the choice underwear of athletes, although many men on the street still preferred the support offered by their long johns. For this reason, boxers didn’t immediately enjoy the success that they do today. But that all changed with a memorable Levi’s 501 commercial in the late 80s. 

The Birth of Briefs

Around the same time, Coopers Inc exec Arthur Kneibler was busy coming up with an interesting solution to the lack-of-support issue of boxers. Inspired by a postcard from the French Riviera depicting a man in tight bathing shorts, he originated the concept of briefs. Dispensing with the leg sections of underwear and with a Y-shaped overlapping fly, this type of underwear was great for holding everything in place. Quickly finding favor with sports fans, briefs overtook long johns as the popular underwear of the time until the aforementioned commercial made boxers the younger, hipper choice. 

The Emergence of Boxer Briefs

However, more active men still had reason to complain about boxers. While they were great for lounging about on the couch, they didn’t quite hit the mark when it came to protecting man parts from jostling about out on the track. Innovative manufacturers in the 1980s/90s that saw a gap in the market between supportive yet unpopular briefs (tighty-whities as they had been less-than-affectionately dubbed) and cooler but less practical boxers, created a hybrid solution in the form of boxer briefs. Combining the coverage and style of boxers with the hold of briefs today, boxer briefs are far and away the most popular type of men’s undies. 

Performance Underwear - A Modern Innovation

Performance underwear is based on the premise of boxer briefs, taking what they offer in terms of style, support and comfort, but building upon it even more to meet the demands of modern men’s active and busy lifestyles. Advanced technology has enabled the creation of supportive, flexible, and breathable fabrics that can keep everything where it needs to be while still allowing for a full range of movement and protecting against painful chafing and irritation. 

Since 2014, Turq’s Performance Underwear has featured a seamless design for an enhanced fit, even under skin-hugging athletic clothing. The quick-drying silver-infused antimicrobial microfibers keep your nether regions odor- free, cool and hygienic. And the ventilated air-flow construction of the underwear allows for all day, optimal comfort. Engineered specifically for support and separation, the Paradise Pouch offers a dedicated space for your man parts away from your thighs. 
The smart and savvy design makes it the optimal choice for all day comfort and support, no matter the situation you find yourself in. 

As you can see, men’s underwear has undergone a remarkable transformation in the quest to meet the ever-changing needs of the people who wear it. There has never before been such a comprehensive range of men’s underwear with such epic features to pick from. No matter the kind of lifestyle you choose, there is something for you. 

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