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Upsurge in sales of men’s underwear as Gary prepares to present in pants

Underpants sales soar as more men buy their own underwear 

44% of men say they buy at least one pair of pants for ‘best’

White Y-fronts and boxers give way to prints, colours and fitted styles


As the nation awaits to see if Gary Lineker will really be in his ‘presenting pants’ for Match of the Day, Debenhams reveals that men both in and out of the public eye are paying more attention to their choice of underwear with increasing amounts taking responsibility to buy their own rather than rely on partners.   

The high street retailer has seen a rise in sales across the underwear category with a 33% on loungewear, 25% increase in T’s, the modern day replacement of the vest, and a 10% rise in sales of men’s underwear.

Plain white underwear now only accounts for 10% of sales whilst men add print and stripes to the mix with over a third (38%) of men opting for pattern over plain.  The classic Y front has also dropped in popularity claiming just third place as most popular underwear with boxers leading the list with 25% of sales followed closely by hipster trunks with 24% of sales.  

A mix of influencing factors is affecting how and what men buy as underwear as the garments are increasingly seen by others.  While Gary will be displaying his pants of choice to more than 25 million viewers as he presents the first ‘MOTD ‘of the season the rise of social media has seen a huge growth in men posing in their pants to show off toned physiques.  From Justin Beiber, Drake, Jason Derulo to Nick Jonas celebrities are taking to social channels to post pictures in underwear, a trend Debenhams Menswear Trading Director, Paul Baldwin believes is filtrating down to the everyday consumer.

“The men’s underwear market is flourishing and right now and we are seeing increasing numbers of men buying for themselves as well as relishing in the choice of fabrics, styles and colours.  The everyday bloke is not just thinking of the garment as one that is hidden under clothes but something that is seen peeking out from trousers, worn freely around the house and increasingly broadcasted on social media channels,” says Baldwin. 

“Men are no longer happy to just put on any old underwear that has been bought for them; they want to make those choices for themselves - no doubt a change that will leave many women thinking, “not before time!” he continues.

In order to help Lineker in his pants decision-making process Debenhams is issuing a consignment of Y fronts, boxers and snug fit briefs to the TV presenter from the 325 different styles available instore – naturally with a good selection of blue to choose from.  

In the 1970’s industry research revealed only 25% of men’s pants were purchased by men. Underwear drawers were populated predominantly by white Y-fronts, bought mainly by wives, mothers and girlfriends. Today 76% of men say they regularly buy their own underwear, according to research with 44% saying they purchase at least one pair for ‘best’ or ‘special occasions’.

Designer Tommy Hilfiger recently highlighted the seismic change in attitudes to men’s pants commenting: “When we were young, you would never show your underwear - now, if you don't show your underwear, you're just not cool."

Decades of indifference towards the style or colour of the three pack of Y-fronts and then boxers, in the underwear drawer has given way to a keen interest in tight trunks, sexy briefs and eye catching brightly coloured, patterned “performance” fabrics designed to do everything from wicking away moisture to battling sweat smells and bacteria.

Some industry observers even put booming business in men’s underwear down to economics. According to Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, when economies start to slide men stop replacing their underpants and pant sales plummet. When there is an economic upturn they are happy to replenish the pant drawer and sales pick up.

About Debenhams

Debenhams is a leading international, multi-channel brand with a proud British heritage which trades out of more than 240 stores across 27 countries.  Debenhams gives its customers around the world a unique, differentiated and exclusive mix of own brands, international brands and concessions.

In the UK, Debenhams has a top three market position in womenswear and menswear and a top ten share in childrenswear.  It holds the number two market position in premium health and beauty.

Debenhams has been investing in British design for 21 years through its exclusive Designers at Debenhams portfolio of brands.  Current designers include Abigail Ahern, Savannah Miller, Ted Baker, Jeff Banks, Jasper Conran, FrostFrench, Patrick Grant, Henry Holland, Betty Jackson, Ben de Lisi, Todd Lynn, Julien Macdonald, Jenny Packham,  Stephen Jones, Preen, Giles Deacon Janet Reger, John Rocha,  Ashley Thomas, Eric Van Peterson and Matthew Williamson.

About Gary Lineker and his pants pledge

Earlier in the football season BBC Presented Gary Lineker vowed to present Match of the Day in his underwear if 5000 -1 outsiders Leicester City won the Premier League.  Bets are now being placed by consumers on what colour and style he will wear. The issue was raised at Prime Minister’s Question Time on whether Gary Lineker should keep his promise.


Caroline Cooper

020 7529 0236 /

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