by Michael Kleinmann
It’s a beautiful time to be an underwear lover. In many ways, we are living in a golden age of men’s underwear, blessed with hundreds of brands selling styles that range from highly functional to brow-raisingly sexy. Even in this age of hot, newer brands like C-IN2 and Jac5, there are a few classic brands that have stood the test of time. While the actual title of “oldest brand” is always going to be in dispute, we are listing ten great candidates for the world’s oldest underwear brands.
Check out our top ten longest running underwear brands in the gallery below. Which is your favorite? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below or by tweeting @underwearexpert.
Schiesser was named after Jacques Schiesser, a Swiss manufacturer who founded the company in Germany in 1875. Having produced underwear for soldiers in two World Wars, Schiesser certainly has experience with production on a large scale. Schiesser has proven to produce high quality products efficiently. Today, the company even produces underwear for fashion labels such as Tommy Hilfinger, Ralph Lauren and Jacques Britt.
Over 160 years ago, a man named C. F. Bennett invented the jockstrap. He founded Bike in 1847 and the company is still successfully providing athletic men's supportive undergarments. The company has even branched out into other protective athletic gear such as football helmets. Bike has maintained an excellent reputation for high quality sporting apparel since its founding, and it remains one of the oldest underwear brands in the world.
The Swiss brand was founded in 1884 by Albert Handschin. While Hanro initially focused on women's lingerie, it eventually expanded into men's undergarments as well. The name itself comes from a combination of the founder's name and his business partner's: Albert HANdschin - Carl ROnus. Get it?
The inventor of its famous kangaroo pouch fly, Munsingwear underwear has been around since 1866 when the company was started as the Northwestern Knitting Company. Founded in Minneapolis, the brand moved from making utilitarian long underwear to sexy lingerie. Today, Munsingwear produces underwear for Perry Ellis.
The acronym stands for "Bradley, Voorhees and Day," a New York City firm that has manufactured underwear since 1876. Today, the company only produces men's underwear. B.V.D. is far from a historical footnote and has been often referenced in popular culture. Even F. Scott Fitzgerald name-dropped the brand in his first novel, This Side of Paradise.
5. Fruit of the Loom
Could we really make a list of the world's oldest underwear brands without mentioning Fruit of the Loom? Robert Knight founded the company back in 1851 at his textile mill. The famous logo was inspired by a young girl - the daughter of Knight's friend. Knight saw her painting images of apples and applying them to cloth and decided to use a similar look for his brand.
Sunspel has done more than its fair share to contribute to men's underwear. In the 1950s, the brand introduced boxer shorts to the United Kingdom. A timeless British brand, Sunspel continues to remain relevant today. Daniel Craig even wore a Sunspel polo as James Bond in Casino Royale.
A brand steeped in history, Jockey has been around since 1876. In 1935, they sold the first ever pair of underwear with a Y-shaped fly. Jockey is based in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where it still runs a remarkably successful company, remaining one of the oldest underwear brands in the world.
The Scots have done two things really well for a very long time - whisky and underwear. Pringle was founded in Scotland in 1815. Considering that the company is almost 200 years old, we think Pringle has adapted to modern times fairly well.
Hanes has been a reliable source for underwear basics since, like, always. The brand was founded in 1901 and continues to be a major force in men's underwear to this day. It might not be a brand devoted to the sexiest styles, but Hanes has earned its place among the oldest underwear brands.
For more information about these brands: Hanes, Jockey, Pringle, Fruit of the Loom, Sunspel, B.V.D., Munsingwear, Hanro, Bike, Schiesser
Photo Credit: Hanes, Jockey, Pringle, Fruit of the Loom, Sunspel, B.V.D., Munsingwear, Hanro, Bike, Schiesser, Richard Pier Petit, Degree Magazine, Jockstrap Central