Saturday, August 18, 2018
Vintage Skivvies Underwear History


Mass Production Begins

Some of the inventions that revolutionized men’s underwear include:

  • The application of waterpower to yarn-spinning machinery, beginning as early as the 17th century.
  • Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin in 1793. Receiving a US patent for his newly invented sewing machine on this day in 1846, Elias Howe soon traveled to England to promote his creation. Returning home a year later he discovered that the patent had been infringed, and engaged in seven years of litigation which ultimately secured him a fortune from the early garment industry.
  • All these, and many more, made mass production of cotton yarns and fabrics possible. That, in turn, led to the mass production of finished undergarments. Until the Civil War, undergarments were made at home, by hand. During reconstruction, however, underwear began to be mass produced.

The Industrial Revolution roared out of the late 1800s and into the 20th century — like the speeding locomotive that epitomizes this era so well. When Henry Ford put his ideas to work, America led the world into the modern miracle of mass production. Soon there were companies up and down the East Coast, even extending into the Midwest, turning out men’s underwear from huge factories in record volumes. The choices available to the gentleman searching for that something new — that something better in skivvies — became enormous.

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