Men’s underwear and the 2009 Juno Awards
– by Michael Kissinger
Last week I walked out of the Juno Awards swag room at the Shangri-La Hotel in Vancouver, slightly drunk, with three pairs of underwear in my man purse.
I’m not sure which is more of an accomplishment, the fact I can still rock a “murse” without shame, or my substantial haul of gaunch. Both are worthy of praise and reflection, but I’ll focus on my impressive underwear booty for now.
Despite inroads made by ex-Maple Leaf Borje Salming, tennis great Bjorn Borg and tighty-whitey advocate Marky Mark, men’s underwear has long been treated as an afterthought in fashion circles – the unsophisticated, slightly retarded younger brother of the La Senzas, Agent Provocateurs and Victoria’s Secrets of the world. That’s slowly changing, however.
In 2004, the Canadian English Oxford Dictionary included the term “gaunch” and its regional variations “gonch” and “gotch” in its esteemed pages for the first time. That same year, Montreal-based Ginch Gonch launched its “playful rebellion against the boring, ordinary underwear worn by most men” with loud fabric prints and saucy taglines such as, “regardless of your inches, we cover you in our Ginches.” Shortly after that, perhaps not coincidentally, anti-sweat shop, pro-orgy clothing company American Apparel appropriated the once-ubiquitous and much-maligned men’s Y-front briefs of yore, transforming them into overpriced hipster wear.
But bright colours and irony are parlour tricks when it comes to men’s undies, as technology and design have remained relatively stagnant. Two companies are aiming to correct this gross injustice, and they’ve decided that lathering musicians and media types at the Juno Awards with free samples is good place to start, although I always assumed that people like Sam Roberts and members of the Trews preferred to go commando. Maybe it’s the beards.
T-Box, from Istanbul, began as a line of T-shirts, creatively and compactly packaged, which, according to its press bumph, allows it to be “consumed anywhere.” Hmmm. The company’s “T-Boxers” are no different, with two shrink-wrapped pairs taking up the same amount of space in my bag as a handful of Timbits would. (On a side note: former MuchMusic VJ and current ET Canada host Rick the Temp, sorry, Campanelli, kindly gave me an extra pair of his complimentary T-Boxers since extra large was too big for his eternally young and boyish figure.)
Out of the package, T-Boxers look like wrinkled crepe paper. Equally bewildering, each pair comes with a single Euro one-cent coin. While it’s fittingly European, I’m not sure that a brown penny is really the marketing angle an underwear company should be taking. Same goes for teabags.
As far as material goes, my T-Boxers weren’t as soft and comfortable as I had hoped for, and they fit a little tighter and higher on the thigh than my ruggedly handsome frame is accustomed. That said, I appreciated the ergonomics of the packaging, and the snugness inspired me to run faster during my Sunday ball hockey game.
Saxx Apparel, on the other hand, is all about fit. Launched by Kelowna’s Trent Kitsch, who won last year’s audience award on CBC’s Dragon’s Den, Saxx bills itself as an “evolution in men’s underwear.” Built with “comfort side panels”, Saxx apparently “greatly improves men’s comfort by preventing contact and offering non-restrictive support.” Simply put: “It keeps your balls away from your leg,” as a company rep repeatedly told me and anyone else within earshot. In layman’s terms, the comfort panels isolate your junk from the rest of your body, effectively creating a pouch for your pouch.
At first I thought this would feel a little off-putting, but once I got home, sobered up and pulled on a pair of the ³Bamboo² Saxx, I was pleasantly surprised. The material was soft and the fit impeccable. In fact, Saxx fits bigger than most underwear, so a size large suited this burly, murse-toting dude just fine. As for the separation of church and state, Saxx’s side panel technology is subtle but effective, which is really what all gaunch should aspire to.
Next up: the fashion resilience of men’s purses, appropriate summer footwear, shirtless dudes playing Frisbee: who’s to blame?, and why 99.9 per cent of people who eat Subway sandwiches on public transit are male.