Wednesday, December 28, 2016

What does a man get when he buys underwear at the mall? A comparative review

Most men receive their underwear as gifts, and the majority of men’s underwear sold falls into two categories. The first is the multipack: An option for convenience and a cheap price, multipacks are offered by companies like Hanes and Jockey and are a quick way of replenishing a rapidly depleting underwear drawer. The second category is a more pricey and varied section of the market, men’s underwear offered by general clothing brands. This variety caters more to discriminating men (or their significant others), usually is sold as individual items, and is usually offered at a higher price point. While many men will end up with underwear purchased alongside other clothing items, what do men actually get when they purchase underwear from a common shopping mall brand? To investigate, I wrote four reviews on products by American Eagle, Gap, Hollister, and Express, and I compare my findings here. 

  • American Eagle AEO Mesh Panel 9” Flex Trunk: Compared to the other three items, the AEO Mesh Panel 9” Flex Trunk combines the best construction quality and materials with the worst design. Created as activewear, the AEO Mesh Panel 9” Flex Trunk is abrasive on the legs and very hot. Combined with the lack of room in the crotch, this is undoubtedly the least comfortable and practical item of the bunch. Still, given the mesh panel design, one could tell that the company had actually made an effort rather than just releasing a cheap item to the market with as little thought as possible. 
  • GAP Stripe Stretch Trunks: This has the most conventional design of the four. The quality is not much better than what would be found in the cheapest underwear available, and the Stretch trunks began to degrade within a few washings. The fit is slightly more relaxed, and there’s noticeably more room in the crotch than the American Eagle or Hollister items. 
  • Hollister Active Classic Trunk: Slick, rubbery feeling makes the Hollister Active Classic Trunk unpleasant to wear. The stretchiness of the fabric makes the crotch a little more comfortable than it would be otherwise.
  • Express Vintage Star Print Boxer Briefs: The highest quality of the four, this one is certainly my favorite.  The elastic around the legs is among the best I’ve seen, which prevents the Vintage Star Print Boxer Briefs from riding up. While this is not competition for high-quality pouch underwear, I can at least say that what quality and features are offered are reasonable for the price.

Overall, I was actually disappointed by my experience trying these four items. While my expectations were not particularly high, three out of the four pairs seem like they are closer to the bottom end of the market than the top end (despite some redeeming features). Half of the items, the offerings from American Eagle and Hollister, were so clumsily designed that it seems like they were released to the market prematurely. My unsurprising observation that the best underwear tends to be made by dedicated underwear companies is vindicated by these four items. What one actually gets when they purchase a pair of underwear from a shopping mall brand varies significantly, but is no better than what one could find from an underwear company at a similar price.

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