Under post #2: taking on the ‘final frontier’ of menswear
I promised a follow-up post about the Under brand once I’d gotten my hands on some pieces and here it is. The photographs were taken during a recent weekend break for my birthday in Norfolk. The stylish though rugged setting of a converted barn near Blakeney was the perfect setting to take a closer look at these luxurious underwear pieces. If there’s one thing that Under’s approach to underwear has impressed me with, it’s the use of details such as cloth-covered buttons, flat cotton waistbands, and chambray plackets more usually associated with tailoring, making the items seem more substantial and like something to really invest in. It’s also recommended attire if The Selby or Backyard Bill ever come round for an ‘at home’ feature, so you can live out that Klondike-goldminer-meets-Brooklynite zeitgeist in pants worthy of the attention.
If you can’t resist and want to upgrade your underwear right please get in touch here (with Under in the subject title) or via Twitter and I’ll supply you with an exclusive discount code of 25% for the Under brand. The Under site features great photography of the line and you can buy directly online.
Finally, to give you more on an insight into the brand, here is a Q&A I recently completed with label owner Kieron Hurley.
SL: I understand you have a background in music and with the Acid Jazz label in particular. How did you end up doing what you’re doing now?
KH: Things began to change within the music industry and it became clear that I wasn’t going to be able to make the records I wanted to make for much longer. So I decided to look for a fresh challenge, liked the idea of fashion and conceived what became the men’s casual brand RedDot – and from there I launched UNDER.
SL: Men’s underwear is often a sideline of major brands e.g. DKNY, Ralph Lauren, and most notably Calvin Klein. What made you want to develop a luxury underwear brand for men?
KH: I couldn’t find the underwear I wanted to buy and that pissed me off a bit/got me thinking – then the more I thought about it the more I began to realize that there was a decent sized gap in the market and an opportunity to explore and exploit.
SL: There seems to be a renaissance in men rediscovering quality underwear recently with brands like Schiesser and Sunspel doing well here in the UK. Any thoughts on what’s prompting that?
KH: It’s the final frontier, for some time now it’s been OK for men to take a keen interest in style and fashion, use skin and hair products etc., but for some unfathomable reason still be OK with wearing crappy underwear. I think it was inevitable that when presented with the right product guys would eventually wake up to this anomaly.
SL: The current collection seems to take a lot of inspiration from classic American male iconography from the Gold Rush era and also a sporty Baseball feel to some of the pieces. How did those influences occur to you personally?
KH: When I think of classic underwear I picture those images of miners in the Klondike wearing a pair of jeans over their union suit so quite a bit of the inspiration for the launch collection came from that look and era. The baseball shirt is just a continuation of this forties/fifties Americana as opposed to The Gold Rush.
SL: The colour palette is really distinctive – particularly the red marl and blue is quite different from anything I can think of in men’s underwear right now, which tends focus on basic white or black. Was it a conscious decision to use stronger colours for the Under range?
KH: I just love marls, particularly blue and red, and they work so well with the chambray – to be honest I didn’t give it much thought at all, seemed like a no-brainer.
SL: It seems like there’s lots of attention to detail with great materials and detailing going on with the brand, could you tell us a little about how you go about sourcing fabrics and the finishing touches to the garments?
KH: We produce everything in Portugal and have a really great supplier there who makes stuff for Levi’s Vintage, PRPS etc. So when I go to them with references to vintage fabrics or detail ideas they’re very good at replicating what’s in my mind/sketches. Having a factory like this is really important because the essence of UNDER is treating underwear design like you would apparel and giving it the same care and attention it deserves.
SL: What do you plan to do next with Under?
KH: I like to think that we nailed what the brand’s all about with the launch collection so most of this will be around for a while and become our core basics – that’s not to say that we won’t be introducing lots of interesting new stuff on a regular basis and improving/tweaking what we’ve done already!