Better Than A Vest

The modern men's undershirt has moved on from its humble origins as a vest (sorry readers of the USA but that's what we Brits call it). The ill-fitting cotton thing your Dad wore - or worse forced on you as a child - has been replaced by an altogether more advanced offering. So what's changed in the last 20 years?

The fabric for one. Elastane has transformed the underwear business. Also known by its funkier American brand name Spandex – this polyurethane wonder material used to be known chiefly for those shiny Jane Fonder workout leotards, and the skin-tight trousers of 90's glam rockers on MTV. Happily, it also has an everyday use. When combined with another material - typically only 5%-10% elastane is needed - it creates a blended fabric capable of effortlessly stretches in all directions. When combined with viscose - sometimes referred to as artificial silk - it creates a fabric ideal for underwear. Why ideal? It's silky-smooth, sweat and heat-absorbing, lightweight, and natural feeling on the skin. Not to mention flexing with your every move, so you almost forget it's on. Take off that old stiff cotton vest.

It doesn't stop there. The cut and fit of an undershirt is streets ahead of what passed before. Have you noticed how sportswear has become more body-contoured? The same is true for underwear and the best undershirts - designs are now shaped around the body. Instead of cutting a boxy tee-shirt design that hangs and wrinkles in odd places, we underwear makers now fit the garment to the wearer. After all, bodies are not square - no one is straight up and down. The new stretch fabrics have helped achieve this, but that's not the whole story. It's an appreciation that garments work best when they are fitted to the curves of your body - particularly when it comes to intimate clothing - and that's true for men just as much as it is true for women.

Which leads me to a final point. There is another force at work - and it's a happy story for the modern citizen consumer. Times were when the focus was solely on the bottom line of the product and the convenience of the product maker. Often that meant cheap materials and ill-conceived designs more biased towards simplifying the process of manufacturing, than the needs of the user. The times they have-a-changed. Thanks to a fresh wave of thinking, user-centric design is catching on. From smartphones to websites to cars – and yes even undershirts and underwear – products are being shaped around the user – not the other way around. It's a revolution driven by irreverent new brands – like us - who think it can be done better - and long overdue, in my opinion.

Evolution, revolution, adaption - change is constant. The future is built on what has passed before, and new players shake up the game. That gives me hope for the big issues – reversing climate change – as well as the small – better underwear for all. Onwards to a brighter, more comfortable future. The vest is no more, long live the undershirt.

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