FLASHBACK: I’m in a class for my costume design major in college, and I’m surrounded by a bunch of women and a straight guy. Today’s assignment had focused on designing the character’s clothing from the ground up, even their underwear. As I mention that one of my characters is wearing a trunk in one of my designs, I get interrupted by one of the girls. She asked me why the character was going to be wearing “swimming trunks”. I explained what a trunk was, and slowly the rest of the class acknowledged that none of them really knew that there was any other cut of men’s underwear besides the horribly named “tighty whiteys” (also known as y-front briefs) and boxers. Shocked was I for the girls (the straight ones at least) for having a history of dating men with such limited wardrobes, and the boy who had yet to see the world through the eyes of stylish underwear. My costume design professor noticed the information gap, and asked if I would mind preparing a small presentation on the current state of men’s underwear, to update my classmates’ knowledge a few decades. I hurried home and got to work…
David Beckham has many pop-claims to his life: major American-soccer/football cred, popstar turned fashion icon wife, movie with his name in the title, and especially ruggedly handsome model-good looks that have been put to good use leading to various endorsement contracts.
Beckham first brushed with the men’s underwear world back in 2007 when he modeled underwear for the Empirio Armani Brand. This underwear campaign did lead to controversy, because here was not just some anonymous model, this was a celebrity, who is lying back with a rather ample bulge prominently displayed for the public. When Marky Mark back in the day did his Calvin Klein ads, even the front of his undies were pretty baggy. Beckham’s ad left NOTHING to the imagination. Beckham has reached quite a gamut of positive facts. He is a sexy husband/father, who works hard, and looks good. Aside from the usual celebrity alleged sex scandals (none of which have been confirmed), he seems to be a great guy who also gets to live this magical life of riches, fashion, and fame. He represents what I like to call “straight man gold”.
Now, it’s one thing to be a model for an underwear label, but Beckham upped his game in early 2012, joining forces with H&M to create a line of David Beckham Underwear for their stores. This line is starting classic- no Andrew Christian competing here. But what these pieces offer, is a step in the right direction for guys who have had limited underwear wardrobes up till now. His designs are fairly classic in genre, but modern in cut and quality.
I am really excited about Beckham’s journey into men’s underwear marketing. He is a positive image that I think can help straight men who don’t consider themselves “metrosexuals” to start considering putting thought into their underwear choice. I think celebrities like Beckham and Mario Lopez’s “Rated M” underwear line, will help straight men realize it’s not necessarily a “gay” thing to put thought into your underwear.
What do you think? In the onslaught of certain companies targeting gay men in their advertising to increase their more popular demographics sales, do you welcome Beckham and Co’s no-nonsense marketing of classic underwear redesigned for the new modern straight male? Or do you see it as just a random marketing campaign by a celebrity and it will not open the less popular demographic of straight men to opening their underwear opinions?