A Denver-based entrepreneur is getting into the ongoing boxers vs. briefs debate with his new Vintage Skivvies elastic-free underwear. Available online at www.vintageskivvies.com, the all-cotton underwear are replicas of the underpants issued to American soldiers during World War II. Oversized to give extra room and comfort, the underwear has ties on the side to ensure they remain in place. The front of the underpants features four cat's-eye buttons while the oversized balloon seat and legs offer more room than traditional boxer shorts.
Baird said despite the side ties, Vintage Skivvies are still functional. "From the time you get into them, you tie them up and you don't tie them anymore," Baird said. Vintage Skivvies Gripper Shorts made their debut on the Internet in October 2002 following a nearly 60-year hiatus from the competitive men's underwear scene. Baird said despite their extended absence from the marketplace, he said the time is right for a new type of underpants. He thinks consumers are tired of having only two choices — boxers or briefs.
"The kids like it because it's something new," he said.
Baird came across the idea for Vintage Skivvies while researching catalogs from Sears and J.C. Penney's from the 1940s and '50s for classic font styles and color patterns. A veteran freelance graphic designer with nearly 20 years of experience, Baird owns and operates the Lakewood-based ICON graphic design firm along with his new underwear business. He said it was looking at the classic underwear styles from nearly 60 years ago that gave him the inspiration for Vintage Skivvies.
"I have no background in underwear other than being a user just like everyone else," he said. "I didn't know how to sew a button until two months ago." After finding a dozen original, never-worn, military-issued boxer shorts circa WWII, Baird began creating a slightly updated version of the classic underwear. "I developed my patterns from those [pairs]," he said. "I've made them as authentic as possible."
Offering extensive historical information on the origins of men's underwear, a gallery featuring classic advertisements and space devoted to a live auction of classic underwear, the site has won numerous awards from other fashion and technology-based sites. Baird said the site averages more than 2 million hits per month. And while Vintage Skivvies are available for $25.00 a pair plus shipping fees at the Web site, Baird said he's in negotiations with a few Denver boutiques to stock the underwear.
He added that his original target audience for the underpants is the elusive demographic of young men between the ages of 16 and 24. It's the market he describes as guys who sag their pants low and aren't shy about showing off the tops of their underwear.
"The target market is the youth market — snowboarders, wakeboarders, skateboarders," he said.
Baird hopes his next line of retro underwear receives the same welcome response. He's busy updating the classic union suit with a more athletic cut that he hopes to have ready in time for the fall.
He added that a growing number of consumers are ready to tell high-end underwear retailers such as Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren and even moderately priced brands such as Joe Boxer they want more realistic underwear. He'd like to figuratively tell them to eat their shorts.
"This isn't grandpa's underwear any more," he said. "This is something old that is new again."