Little Bits of History

Not Commando

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 19, 2011

Vintage Jockey underwear advertisement

January 19, 1935: Marshall Field and Company in Chicago, Illinois first sells Samuel T. Cooper’s new product – the Jockey brief. The new product was displayed in the window of the store during a blizzard when long underwear would have been quite useful. Regardless, 600 pair were sold even before the scanty item was taken from the window. Within three months, 30,000 pair of the revolutionary men’s underwear was sold.

Loincloths were the first male underwear although they started life as outerwear or only wear. There is evidence of men wearing leather loincloths as long as 7,000 years ago. By 2000 BC, Egyptians were wearing more comfortable cloth loincloths. By the 13th century, someone had invented pull on underpants. The baggy drawers were called “braies” and were worn by men of all classes. Wealthier men had a variety of other undergarments: corsets, cod pieces, stockings, and undershirts. The underwear had a direct influence on outerwear design.

With the Industrial Revolution and invention of the cotton gin, underwear could finally be mass manufactured and was now sold in stores. The “union suit” was the normal undergarment and was so named because it was a one piece ensemble that covered a man from ankles to wrists. By the 1930s, long underwear was losing favor to the newer boxer shorts – without a shirt and shorter legs.

Cooper started his business in 1876 making hosiery for lumberjacks who were getting blisters and infections from poorly made wool socks. By 1900 his factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin had switched to making underwear. In 1909 a new feature was added, the Kenosha Klosed Krotch, which added a diagonal slit instead of the drop seat that was common. The Great Depression nearly closed Cooper, Inc. but instead Mr. Wolf came to the company and reorganized the shop. And the new invention, the Jockey brief – named because it supported like a jockstrap, came to the world, changing underwear forever. Cooper changed its name to Jockey International, Inc. and is known worldwide.

“After I told my wife that black underwear turned me on, she didn’t wash my Y-fronts for a month.” – Chic Murray

“I’m into cotton underwear. I don’t need cheetah print leather to make me feel sexy.” – Nelly Futado

“I don’t believe in the afterlife, although I am bringing a change of underwear.” – Woody Allen

“Once you’ve been in your underwear together there’s no turning back – there’s no secrets anymore.” – Sarah Halliday

Also on this day:
Electrifying – In 1883, Roselle, New Jersey became the first electrified community.
LISA – In 1983, the Apple LISA computer was announced.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: