In the men's underwear industry, real style innovations are few and far between. That's why when the jock brief 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 jock strap, the trunk, and the boxer brief. Sure enough, brands small and large 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 jock brief is a fairly intuitive marriage between two of the most popular silhouettes in men's underwear: the jock strap and brief. The jock strap 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 jock brief 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.
First of all, what was the very first jock brief?
We introduced the jock brief with the introduction of our ribbed collection. This collection debuted at MAGIC Las Vegas in February 2009 and started shipping in fall 2009.
How did you originally come up with the design?
To be honest, it was all about me. I don't like to wear traditional jock straps. 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 jock straps 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 jock brief 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.
How did you think people were going to react? Did it seem like an obvious hit? A one-off design?
We were hopeful. We got great feedback from our key vendors at MAGIC. However, we had no idea how successful the design would be.
How did it sell when you first introduced it?
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 jock brief in charcoal grey, white, and palm green. We sold through 10,000 units in under two months -- and that was just in jock briefs. It was really a supply-side disaster because we could not keep up with demand, and we had a lot of angry retailers.
What was the last big design innovation in men's underwear before this, in your opinion?
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.
How does the jock brief compare with that?
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.
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