Men's underwear has been having a renaissance moment over the past decade. Days of poor preforming, poorly fitting, and uncomfortable boxers are things of the past of you know what to look for.
The base of any piece of clothing is the fabric; underwear is no different. The standard men's underwear comes in variations of cotton, polyester, nylon, and a new alternative has appeared of late modal.
Cotton is the veteran of all clothing and dates back to before underwear was even an idea. Some experts believe cotton dates back to ancient Egypt with additional evidence leading some to gather the prehistoric Mexican and Indian people who may have utilized the cloth. Cotton clothes are known for their versatile looks and application, ranging from socks to designer t-shirts. Cotton fabric is a natural fiber that comes from the cotton plant—easily distinguished by its bright white, fluffy bolls surrounding the plant seeds. A cotton garment benefits are its ease of manufacturing, affordable pricing, absorbent properties, and easy to clean properties. While being easy to clean and affordable are definite pluses in men's underwear, its porous properties leaves much to be desired. Holding too much sweat and heat against the body can be highly uncomfortable and lead to self-conscious moments.
Polyester is a product of the 1940 and has grown to be the most widely used human-made fiber in the world. Polyester is a synthetic fiber that is derived from petroleum or recycled materials. Dupont Chemical purchased the rights of polyester in 1951 and created the first generation of products. While many polyester variations do exist, the most common to see is called PET or polyethylene terephthalate. Polyesters best characteristics are its ability to resist wrinkling, its durability, UV resistance, shape retention, and for some, its ability to resist shrinking. Drawbacks with polyester are its public perception of a cheap, uncomfortable material prone to oil-based staining. While innovations and new variants of polyester have come over the past few years, the perception remains.
Nylon holds the title as the first human-derived fiber. It became widely available and used during the second world war. Nylon's military use came in the form of ropes, parachute fabric, and tents due to its durability and strength. In the fashion world, nylon was the answer to a silk shortage caused by the trade interruptions with Asia. Nylon is made from reacting carbon-based materials in a high pressure, high heat environment. Nylon is best used in scenarios where softness, durability, stretch, and ability to maintain a shape are paramount. The drawbacks of nylon are the fact that the production of nylon is an energy-hungry process. The bright spot has been great strides in the past decades to recycle old nylon products, significantly reducing waste and energy consumption. Today Nylon can be found is VORA's AKTIV men's boxer briefs line.
Modal is the new face of fabric. Modal is derived from a chemical process that takes beech tree pulp and turns it into a semi-synthetic fiber. Modal is revered for its soft touch and moisture-wicking properties. Modal is more often found as a component of garments than its sole element. Modal, while derived from trees, isn't guaranteed to be an eco-friendly textile. The process of making the material is chemically extensive. Depending on how these chemicals are handled and disposed determines the fabric environmental impact.