This week I answer another question from a reader. Feel free to send your underwear questions my way.
"Hey Andy, which big box stores or chains are best for undies and which mainstream brands (ie: Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, etc.) are good?"
Let me break this down in a couple of ways. I will start with the second questions first. Mainstream isn't the easiest for me to define, but since the reader included a few brands and also asked about big box stores, I will go ahead and define mainstream as underwear you will find in big box/department stores. No Andrew Christian, Nasty Pig, etc.
It has been well over a decade (likely closer two decades) since any Hanes or Fruit of the Loom have touched my body. Ever since I tried my first 2xist contour pouch brief, I was hooked on the better fabric and the look and have never turned back. It opened my mind to a new experience in underwear...one of extra comfort, style, and sex appeal. Unfortunately, many men in the United States have a number of hang ups about underwear which means Hanes and Fruit of the Loom are in no danger of going out of business, but if you are looking to up your underwear game for either style or comfort, 2(x)ist is a great mainstream brand.
Emporio Armani is another mainstream brand, and one that I recently tried and fell in love with. The price point may be higher than many mainstream brands, but the quality is worth it. Check out my recent review of their Essential Microfiber Thong.
Finally, my favorite mainstream brand is Calvin Klein. This well known brand has a number of styles, color, and fabric options. I love most of their styles, but my favorite is the Steel Micro Hip Brief. CK briefs are frequently what I will wear to bed and give me the comfort I need when I'm feeling a bit under the weather. The fact that they combine color and comfort are a big win in my book.
As far as where to find these better mainstream brands, your best bet is to head to a department store. Both 2xist and Calvin Klein can be found at Macy's. Emporio Armani and Calvin Klein can be found at Dillard's. You may also find some 2xist and Calvin Klein options at off-price retailers such as TJ Maxx, Marshalls, or Ross. In fact, most of my first 2xist experiences were from TJ Maxx, but it seems to have been years since I have seen any in those stores.
Another big box store where you can branch out slightly is Target. Target's Evolve brand was a partnership with 2xist, but that has ended. They now have a partnership with Wood. I have not yet tried Target's Wood Works brand, but I will assume it will be of the highest quality you can find at a discount retailer. I give Target credit for trying to have some style with their underwear selection by partnering with better brands. The options are still limited, but it's a good step. Perhaps one day we will see the return of jocks and thongs as I used to see in discount stores when I was a child.
Now you should be set to head out to the big box stores and get some mainstream underwear. You likely won't find much of a price difference between the options listed above and what you will find online...and shopping online will offer you a wider assortment of brands, styles, fabrics, and colors. You will also find most underwear retailers offer sales online around every imaginable holiday, so that is still my preferred route. However, if you need some new underwear now and want to have some style, you have some shopping options!