Posted by: 4pack | August 8, 2008

Metro’s Are Hot: British David’s (Beckham and Gandy) Roll Out Their Abs And Change Attitudes Toward Ideal Shape

Another victory for Brand Beckham, as a series of ads with Becks wearing skimpy white pants causes a revolution in men’s underwear. Declan Cashin reports

David Beckham's iconic Armani ad

Becks in his kecks: David Beckham's iconic Armani ad

By Declan Cashin
Friday August 08 2008

It seems David Beckham has done it again. The founding father of metrosexuality, who made it acceptable for men everywhere to use moisturiser and wax their chests, has sparked another style revolution — this time in the underwear department.

Sales of white briefs and tight pants for men have reportedly soared by as much as 40pc in some British department stores ever since Becks stripped down for that famous Emporio Armani ad campaign at the start of the year, leading market analysts to dub the trend as the ‘Beckham Boost’.

The most recent advert, which was shot on Malibu beach in California, showed Beckham reclining on a fence in provocatively tight briefs and left little to imagination, boosting sales even further.

Victoria Beckham herself was the biggest cheerleader for the adverts, remarking that she was “proud to see his penis 25ft tall. It’s enormous. Massive.”

Golden Balls himself, on the other hand, was a little more circumspect about the whole affair, and spoke about the uncomfortable conversation he had to have with his mother when the ads went public.

“When the photos came out, she was the first to call me and say, ‘What are you doing?'” Becks told US talk-show host Jay Leno. “I had to try and explain it to her, and it didn’t go down well.”

Mother Beckham’s disapproval notwithstanding, the ‘bulging’ sales in briefs is another marketing triumph for Brand Beckham, and the star is set to appear in more adverts for the Armani chain over the next three years in a deal said to be worth almost e13m.

So has the ‘Beckham Boost’ had any effect on the popularity of the tighty whitey among Irish men?

“The Beckham campaign has certainly had an impact on sales,” explains Aimee Doyle, assistant menswear buyer with Brown Thomas.

“This coupled with model David Gandy’s famous shoot for Dolce & Gabbana has meant that brief sales are very much on the increase among male shoppers, but fashion is so cyclical that it was only a matter of time before they returned to the market again.

“Men’s underwear styles are constantly evolving of late. The current men’s underwear trend is for lots of colour, like with the bright and bold ’70s retro prints of the new Bjorn Borg line.”

The current rehabilitation of the brief could restore the budgie-smuggling garment to its glory days of the 1980s when Tom Cruise became a star by dancing around in his tighty whities in the movie Risky Business. It was Calvin Klein that really kick-started the briefs revolution in 1982 when it introduced a sizzling ad campaign with hunky US Olympic pole vaulter Tom Hintnaus pictured only in skimpy white briefs.

Since then, the company has dominated the briefs advertising market with models such as Mark Wahlberg, former West Ham player Freddie Ljungberg, and, most recently, the strapping African actor Djimon Hounsou all dropping their trousers to promote the skivvies.

Even renowned BBC Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman outed himself as a briefs-wearer earlier this year, when he publicly complained to Marks & Spencers about the quality of their underwear. “There’s no other way to put it: your pants no longer provide adequate support,” Paxman wrote to the M&S chief executive Stuart Rose. “When I’ve discussed this with friends and acquaintances, it has revealed widespread gusset anxiety.”

Graham Cruz, fashion stylist with 1st Option modelling agency and RTE’s The Afternoon Show, expresses similar sentiments to those of Paxman.

“I’ve always been a briefs boy and always will be,” he says. “I don’t understand boxer shorts. I don’t know who they work for. The brief is a much sexier look.

“Men’s underwear is like women’s bras: they have to do a job, and from a fashion and a functional point of view, briefs do a better job.

“For example, sportsmen always go with the brief because it holds you where you need to be held, which is why using Beckham and Freddie Ljungberg in adverts is very savvy. I think the old-fashioned, baggy cotton boxer short era is over. These days it has to be the brief or the boxer brief.”

The resurgence in men’s briefs is also part of a wider trend for tighter-fitting men’s clothes such as skinny jeans and low-cut T-shirts, according to Declan Leavy, men’s editor with Social & Personal magazine.

‘I think men are more conscious of making the most of their frame, be they skinny or muscled,” Leavy explains. “The attitude is: if you’ve got it, flaunt it. But with briefs and tight pants, it all comes back to body shape.

“Let’s face it, we don’t all have a toned and chiselled body like Beckham, and you really need that to be able to carry off tight briefs. No one needs to see an Irish beer belly pouring out over a pair of Penneys’ briefs.”

So on which side of the boxers v briefs argument does Leavy himself fall? “Personally I prefer fitted boxer briefs which are low slung, tight fitting, but longer on the leg so they retain their masculinity,” he says.

Despite his own personal reservations, Leavy says it’s easy to understand the renewed popularity of the brief.

“The upside of briefs is that they accentuate your best assets, holding everything neatly in place,” he laughs.

“You can now purchase briefs that give your bum a slight lift and even make you look like you’re packing more downstairs than you actually are.

“Just remember that there’s a fine line between Y-fronts and briefs. Y-fronts are even harder to look good in.

“Get it wrong and you could end up looking like Rhys Ifans in that famous scene from Notting Hill!”

– Declan Cashin


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