In case men weren't frightened enough by the amount of "he-waxing" supposedly going on, the New York Times Style section has unearthed yet another groundbreaking trend -- dudes buying expensive underwear.
That's right, women aren't the only ones shelling out the big bucks for fashion-forward unmentionables. The Times' Eric Wilson points to several male underwear collections including Calvin Klein Bold, "featuring vibrant color choices," Diesel's "rainbow-striped briefs" and some new undies out of Sweden (called Frigo No. 1) priced at a whopping $100 a pair. Why do they cost that much, you ask? Because, the Times delicately explains, they include an "interior mesh pouch that is suspended from elastic straps, so it can be adjusted to fit different characteristics of the male anatomy." (How many different "characteristics" can there really be in this situation?) Given the price tag, not everyone is running out to purchase these briefs, Wilson hastens to add, but the average cost of men's underwear has increased from $18 to $28 in just five years. According to the article, this "suggests that men are embarking on a new relationship with their briefs. That is, they can now expect to be as confounded by the options before them as any woman shopping at Victoria's Secret."
While I agree that a visit to the pink palace of polyester can be overwhelming, mostly to the senses, it does not in my experience cause "Paradox of Choice"-level paralysis in women -- don't most of us just beeline to the 5 for $25 section and call it a day? So I can't imaging that a wider selection of underwear, no matter how vast, would induce that anxiety in men, either, especially if much of the merchandise is priced at $100 a pair. Even Brian Boye, the fashion director of Men's Health who reportedly test-drove the merchandise, admitted to being skeptical of the Frigos. "I don't know if everybody needs $100 underwear, but for certain occasions it can be relevant," he told the New York Times. (Underwear can be "relevant"? Who knew?)
I'm skeptical that the creation of high-end men's undergarments proves anything more than the fact that lots of things -- specifically unmentionables -- can be manufactured in such a way that you can convince consumers to pay way more for them than they're worth.
Sure, some men probably are spending an insane amount of money on these products, the same way some men likely are shelling out $125 for the "Ultimate He-Wax" that the Times detailed on April 10th. Some people spend a whole lot of money on a whole lot of things. The fact that a few men are willing to spend as much on clothes and grooming as women doesn't make it a trend.