August 31 2011
Mark C O’Flaherty
When I’m not sure how long I’ll be travelling for, I tend to pack the bare essentials in terms of underwear and buy anything extra I need when I get to my destination. Invariably, I find myself heading to whatever the best department store in town is on the third day of a trip. The element of the unexpected turns a tedious necessity into something interesting.
Unlike a lot of men, I’m not fixed on one particular brand or colour when it comes to underwear. It’s easier for me to say what I don’t like, than what I do. And I certainly don’t like boxer shorts. On a recent visit to New York City I bulk-bought the very simple black brief that Gap only sells in its US stores. In the past I was quite partial to the grey trunks at Abercrombie & Fitch, although that particular store has become far too juvenile and disco for me to ever venture into again. There is, however, a brand that I’ve long rated above most others – Elle Macpherson’s range for men called, prosaically, Macpherson Men.
I first discovered them in a store in New Zealand when I was there reporting on the local fashion week. Amid racks of garish Aussie Bum and Bonds, they were appealingly conservative. For me, it’s crucial that underwear comes in sedate colours. Like most men with any taste over the age of 20, I don’t want a semi-religious experience from the print on my underwear. I want black or white or grey or, at most, a rugby stripe, which the Macpherson Men range does very well indeed (briefs from £15.04, pictured).
I bought several pairs while in Auckland and a couple of weeks later, back home in London, I wished I’d bought more as they were almost impossible to buy outside the southern hemisphere. The stretch cotton is of an excellent quality, and the cut and fit is as comfortable as anything I’ve worn to date.
Thankfully I have now found a source online at Zodee, which has proved totally reliable (Cotton Classics from £12.03). Hopefully Macpherson will bring her men’s apparel to the rest of the world with the same success as her women’s. Until then, I’ll continue to punctuate my down-under department-store trips with online shopping.