Take a look at this JockBrief, a long hard look. You’re staring at history right there, friend. That, believe it or not, is one of the very first JockBriefs that was ever offered for sale, introduced by Baskit back in 2009.
In the men’s underwear industry, real style innovations are few and far between. That’s why, when the JockBrief first showed up in Baskit’s 2009 collection, it was literally snapped up immediately. People could tell that it was destined to join the exalted ranks of the standard cuts, alongside the jockstrap, the trunk and the boxer brief. Sure enough, brands from Andrew Christian to Addicted quickly added the design to their collections and by now it’s a fairly common sight to see on the racks.
The reason for this rapid adoption is not a puzzler — the JockBrief is a fairly intuitive marriage between (wait for it) a jockstrap and a brief. The jockstrap has very obvious strengths — it’s redolent with masculinity and gives a flattering angle to your assets — but up in front it’s simply outclassed by the pouch innovations that briefs wearers have been enjoying for the past few years. And the brief, that old standby, sometimes seems a bit staid if you view it from the back. Combine the two strengths and what you get is a true hit.
We were curious about how exactly this historic development all went down, though. Through a little sleuthing, we tracked down the man responsible for bringing the JockBrief into the world: Eric Schwers, CEO and Head Designer of Baskit. In an exclusive interview with The Underwear Expert, Eric walks us through the early days of this instant classic.
Underwear Expert: First of all, what was the very first JockBrief?
Eric Schwers: We introduced the JockBrief with the introduction of our Ribbed Collection. This collection debuted at MAGIC Las Vegas in February 2009 and started shipping in Fall 2009.
Underwear Expert: How did you originally come up with the design?
Eric Schwers: To be honest, it was all about me. I don’t like to wear traditional jockstraps. I have some random aversion to the skin on the front hip (sort of front left and right of the pouch area just below the waistband) not being covered. So during one of our regular focus groups I asked guys about jockstraps and found out that other guys had a similar issue. They liked the look, feel and functionality of the traditional open-rear jockstrap but wanted the coverage and support in front that a brief gives. When I showed them our first sample of the JockBrief that day, one of them literally grabbed it, went to the men’s room and came back with it on. I had basically cut the seat out of our Contrast brief and then hemmed the remaining fabric. It was a rough sample but everyone liked it. I worked on the design another week or so and then we sent it for sampling in our production facility in Asia.
Underwear Expert: How did you think people were going to react? Did it seem like an obvious hit? A one-off design?
Eric Schwers: We were hopeful. We got great feedback from our key vendors at MAGIC. However, we had NO IDEA how successful the design would be. I personally thought this design would be good for us and we would likely do another season with it in ribbed. (They’ve now added it to their Luxe, Burnout, Urban, Pure and Energy collections.)
Underwear Expert: How did it sell when you first introduced it?
Eric Schwers: It was insane. We got what I would consider normal orders when we introduce a new style. However, the reorders from our customers were almost immediate and just kept on coming. The initial shipment delivered with approximately 10,000 units of Ribbed JockBrief in Charcoal Grey, White and Palm Green. We sold through 10,000 units in under two months…and that was just in JockBriefs. It was really a supply-side disaster because we could not keep up with demand and we had a lot of angry retailers.
Underwear Expert: What was the first other brand to pick it up?
Eric Schwers: Without naming names, we had a pair go missing from our booth one night during MAGIC, and a certain brand brought it out shortly thereafter. Their version was an exact copy of ours, right down to the different stitch types we use on our gear. Who knew the underwear business had such a sinister underworld element to it? At this point, I know that pretty much every other brand has copied the design from us. They say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery so we’ll just leave it at that.
Underwear Expert: Has there been any significant innovation in the design since you first introduced it, or is everything else just a pure copy?
Eric Schwers: I have not spent much time looking at anyone else’s design, other than the above mentioned, which was pointed out to us by a die-hard Baskit fan who wanted us to sue. We’ve tweaked the design a bit ourselves to improve the product, but I am not going to give those secrets away!
Underwear Expert: Does Baskit still have the best JockBrief around, or are there other brands whose designs you admire?
Eric Schwers: Yes, ours is the best! But then I would say that, wouldn’t I? Honestly, the fabric is what makes this design work. So when it’s made with the right fabric blends it just looks great and, well, some of my competitors have used some pretty good blends.
Underwear Expert: What was the last big design innovation in men’s underwear before this, in your opinion?
Eric Schwers: There are a few innovations a year in this business. However, most are sort of fetish or really fleeting. In terms of something lasting that stayed with the industry I would say it was the boxer brief or the square cut brief with integrated waistband. This is proven in the fact that these styles appear in most brands’ collections.
Underwear Expert: How does the JockBrief compare to that?
Eric Schwers: Well, it’s been copied and added to most of the brands in this segment. Time will tell if it makes it into the mainstream where a Calvin Klein or like-brand will incorporate it into their offering. I would think they would be smart enough to figure it out.