Port Washington, NY, March 25, 2021 – The age-old question of “boxers or briefs” heated up again last year, as sales of men’s undergarments (including underwear bottoms and undershirts) increased +2% while the total men’s apparel category was down -12%*. The growth was driven primarily by boxer briefs and boxer silhouettes, with boxer briefs grabbing 64% of the dollar share in Fall 2020, while boxers accounted for another 16%**.

“As we saw in many apparel categories, consumers have been focused on garments that prioritize comfort, and underwear sales among men was no exception,” said Kristen Classi-Zummo, Director of Market Insights for Apparel, The NPD Group.

Aside from comfort being a top priority, men’s underwear styles with moisture-wicking and cooling saw the largest growth. In fact, combined, styles featuring both attributes drove $82 million in growth year-over-year.

“Men are seeking all-day comfort in the underwear they’re purchasing and wearing, prompting a surge in demand for performance and premium fabrics,” added Classi-Zummo. “They want to be able to hop on a video conference in the morning, take the dog for a walk in the early afternoon, and transition to relaxing on the couch after dinner, while maintaining comfort in the same outfit for the entire day.”

Although Millennials account for the majority of men’s underwear bottoms sales online (40% of dollars), Boomers (13% of dollars) stole the most share. These generational trends were also pronounced online, as many sales shifted to e-commerce due to the pandemic and resulting retail closures. As of the end of 2020, online sales of men’s undergarments represented one-third of sales in the category.   

*Source: The NPD Group/ Consumer Tracking Service / 6ME December 2020
**Source: The NPD Group / Retail Tracking Service / Total Measured Market / 6ME December 2020