Men are from Mars. Instead of sharing their personal problems with other fellow men they prefer to go into their cave and solve it themselves. They come out only when they are emotionally strong. This is the only reason why you don’t see me crying on the shoulders of jumsumtak. Men are so alien a species that writing about their behavioural traits would result in voluminous text. We are here to study one feature of man’s behaviour: Men and Underwear.
Indian men are not comfortable talking about this. While researching for my article on the streets of Delhi, I was pushed around, slapped, chased and verbally abused while I tried to extract information from people. I guess this is one topic a man wants to keep buried underneath his pants; however social networking came to my rescue.
The changing demographics
India is considered to be the second largest potential consumer in the world. With a huge surge in the population of men thanks to neglect of condoms and female foeticide, the demand for men underwear has plummeted sky high. There has also been an increase in the number of pairs a man owns. Opening up the market for foreign brands has led to the entry of affordable brands like jockey to exorbitantly high brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein. The affordable international brands like Jockey, pose a great threat to Indian brands like Lux, Dora, Rupa and VIP. After all, we all like to dress our family jewels with international fashion.
Don’t ask, don’t tell
The question that is so dear to a man’s life is, “At what age a man should start shopping for his own underwear?” During my research I found that most men don’t go for UW shopping, their work is being performed by the womenfolk along with the grocery shopping.
Go to any Indian mall and you can easily spot women shopping for their husband and grown up kid’s (who could be easily in their late teens) UWs or a more entertaining sight would be a couple arguing over the size; where the man always picks up the ‘L’ but wife says otherwise.
No more departmental stores
The reason why some men have shed their inhibitions and have come out in the open for UW shopping is because of the exclusive stores that have come up in the recent years that provide us with a free and secure environment to browse through all the multi coloured brands. One can now compare the models, colours and prices in peace and tranquillity. In the 90’s there was no exclusive showroom, one had to buy UW from departmental stores which in turn used to keep a limited stock. Who would have imagined that in the 21st century special stores would come up! Life has been made simpler, all men need to do is break the shackles of shyness.
That awkward moment
UW shopping creates many “awkward moments”. Like, that awkward moment when you are not sure about your size and end up asking the salesman to look at the back of your UW while you pull your pants down a little bit. That awkward moment when you ask the salesman where the trial room is! That awkward moment when you try to put on underwear over your pants to check the size and people around you start clicking pictures (true story, happened to me once).
The fall of the canonical
It is not easy to bring change; people get so accustomed with old laws and customs that any change in them brings resistance. V-shaped underwear is a sign of masculinity; it dates back to the time when superheroes international and national alike from Superman and Batman to Nagraj were depicted wearing V shaped underwear. However not everyone knows the hidden truth. The superheroes were under a contract with the big brands to popularise the underwear among the masses. Why else would any sane man wear them over pants?
But over time the supremacy of V-shaped underwear has been taken over by the new emerging designs such as Bikini Briefs (which barely conceal your private parts), jock straps, U shaped and the multipurpose boxers which are not so popular among the Indian masses but are gaining popularity among late teens. I have seen people who wear underwear beneath the boxers killing the purpose of boxers altogether.
There are some things money can buy
With the increase in paying capacity of the people, they are ready to spend any amount on UWs. According to Rahul (name changed), an expensive underwear brings a new level of confidence in him even if he has an average size. Plus girls dig expensive brands.
According to nature’s law one must use the underwear for as long as possible but another subject Karan (name changed) changes UW every 5-6 months, because according to him nothing can be a big turn off than a hole in your UW.
Tippy Tippy Tap Which colour do you want?
The young generation is going for more vibrant colours like purple, yellow, green, red and some who are more comfortable with their sexuality are going for pink. Black is still everyone’s favourite as it can be worn innumerable times without washing. However grey and blue are still the top choice among men in their mid 30’s.
Recently, one of my friends (female) asked me, what is an ideal gift for a guy? That guy was not her boyfriend but there was a spark. Instead of the boring conventional choices I suggested briefs. Though their relationship couldn’t last long but this shows that young women are ready to take the step ahead beyond deodorants, novels and t-shirts.
Kids, How I met your mother?
I will end the article with a short story which will also explain my love for exclusive underwear stores.
It was a warm summer night, a brand new Jockey’s showroom opened up in my small town. I had been saving money for this precise moment, to take the next big step; switching from an Indian brand to an international brand. I went to the store and was spell bound by the sheer variety and choice of colours. I started browsing through the myriad number of pieces neatly stacked on the shelf. At the same time a blue eyed girl entered the showroom with her mother who in turn was shopping for her husband’s underwear. I was too engrossed with my shopping that I didn’t even notice when the girl inadvertently started browsing in the aisle opposite to me. Out of hundreds of choices, I picked two, one yellow coloured bikini brief and other red polka dot green boxers. With both pieces in my hand, I weighed my options as I could afford only one. I looked in the mirror and try placing both of them one by one over the designated area. It was then I realised that she was constantly looking at me with raised eyebrows, appalled by my actions. I was in a state of shock and deeply embarrassed. At that precise moment a salesman standing close to me asked about my size. In a state of shock and nervousness, I blurted out “7 inches thick.” Before I realised the gravity of my said words, the showroom was filled with her laughter. It was love at first jockey.