Best Men’s Underwear Brands: A Reaction to GQ’s 2021 List

Written By: Eric @, Founder and Head Writer of

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Additional Disclaimer: This article is in no way affiliated with GQ and is solely my opinion.

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Table of Contents

GQ released its 18 Best Men’s Underwear Brands list on October 11, 2021; of course, I wanted to read it right away. Not that I care what GQ says are the 18 best brands; clearly, I am not looking to them for advice as I can ask myself for underwear advice. But it always fascinates me to read what others say about men’s underwear.

I opened up the list online, and I had a brilliant idea once I started reading the introduction. Why not write my thoughts and reactions as I read the article and share it with my readers? Think of this as the more sophisticated version of everyone’s YouTube reaction videos. Bonus feature: I also include my list of 18 men’s underwear brands that all guys must check out as an alternative to GQ’s list.

GQ’s Introduction to the 18 Best Men’s Underwear Brands

Despite the author feeling that underwear shopping “ain’t all that fun,” I mostly agree with his summary of the men’s underwear market. The only part I disagree with is his opinion that underwear brands are not “trend-oriented.” 5-10 years ago, yes, men’s underwear had no trends other than all guys wore boxer briefs. 

Today, however, many underwear brands – mainly startups – are very trendy. These brands cater to what men want in their underwear and set the trends themselves. Just look at how many options guys have today. Every brand has its proprietary ball pouch, flys come in vertical, horizontal, and even double-sided versions, and cotton undies seem antiquated at best.

Cotton is out. Bamboo and modal are in.

Thus, while the author seems to believe that underwear shopping is “mercifully straightforward,” I say that is the problem with men’s underwear for most guys: it is taken too straightforward without considering all of the options guys have. Fortunately, this attitude is changing for the better and faster than ever.

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Evaluating GQ’s Best Men’s Underwear Brands List

Unfortunately, GQ’s list didn’t meet my above-average expectations, although there were some good finds. Reflecting upon the article, I realize that some element of click-bait is present, which could be why there are such high-priced brands present on the list (such as Raf Simons’ $409 boxers). However, I hoped GQ would present a more helpful list that most guys could use. Out of the 18 brands suggested, I only agree with seven.

The Best of GQ’s List

Calvin Klein: Not a surprise, Calvin Klein is the first brand on the list. I agree; many of my favorite underwear for the past decade is from Calvin Klein. BUT WAIT! How did I just find out that their logo font is Futura? I was obsessed with typefaces in graduate school and used Futura for a bit when designing cover pages. I won’t be looking at my Calvin Kleins the same again!

Saxx: Saxx appears at #5 and is the first underwear brand on this list worth mentioning and not named Calvin Klein. Saxx is the only brand on GQ’s list with a proprietary separated ball pouch. I am very surprised the author did not go more in-depth on penis pouches since that is one of the great trends in men’s underwear for 2021. Nonetheless, great write-up on Saxx; the author and I agree. All is good here!

Lululemon: I don’t own any Lululemon products, but I see the appeal. Lululemon’s boxer briefs are stylish, made from modal (love modal!), and feature a high Lycra content. Looking at Lululemon’s website makes me want to buy a pair, only if the price wasn’t so high (but the price is reasonable for what you are getting).

Uniqlo: The author calls out Uniqlo’s AIRism line specifically rather than just Uniqlo in general. That is smart; the AIRism line is where the quality is. I agree with the author that you would expect Uniqlo’s AIRism underwear to be “triple the price.” 

Mack Weldon: I love my Mack Weldons, specifically my AIRKNITx briefs and trunks. I even posted a review about my AIRKNITx briefs. So my heart – and butt – love that the author specifically highlighted Mack Weldon’s AIRKNITx trunks. Also, check out my complete Mack Weldon underwear buying guide for a detailed review of their underwear options.

Nike: Nice selection here! I haven’t tried out Nike, but I have heard great things from friends. Recycled polyester is a huge plus; the price is right at around $20/pair. Great find!

Mack Weldon underwear
Nike Dri-FIT ReLuxe Boxer Briefs
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  • Flat seams that feel soft against your skin The wide hems help keep the underwear in place.

Under Armour: I am surprised GQ placed Under Armour towards the bottom of the list; I expected it to be higher. Anyway, UA finally arrived, and yes, I agree with the author on its inclusion. 

The Rest of GQ’s List

Since I only agree with seven brands on GQ’s list, there are 11 brands I don’t agree with. Some are very expensive for what you are getting! I simply can’t fathom spending $180 for a pair of cotton – yes, cotton! – boxer shorts. Others aren’t exciting or innovative enough to be included in a “best” men’s underwear brands list. I call out selected choices from GQ below and explain why I would not include them on my list. To see GQ’s complete list, I encourage you to check out the full article on their website.

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Favorite Underwear Style

Hanro: Just after talking about Hanes and Jockey, the author goes entirely to the other end of the men’s underwear spectrum by talking about Hanro. For the price of one of Hanro’s boxer briefs, you could buy seven packs of Hanes seven-packs. While I am all for paying more to get more, and I am sure Hanro is a great company, I simply can’t fathom spending $180 for a pair of cotton boxer shorts. Especially since another Swiss underwear company – T-Bô – charges just $20 for their boxer briefs.

Tom Ford: Oooof! $195 for boxer shorts? The author isn’t kidding when writing that “designer underwear” is a “genre unto itself.” I am sure the 93% silk boxers are incredibly comfortable, but for $195, I feel like I need to frame it to preserve the boxers, like at a museum. I applaud the author for including boxer shorts wearers in this list – an oft-forgotten crowd – but why pick out only the super expensive brands?

Sunspel: The author mentions several high-profile people wearing Sunspel, including “GQ editors and Bond himself.” Despite being cotton, Sunspel’s “boxer briefs” – please, they are trunks – include 8% elastane, which is relatively high for cotton underwear. Yet, at $35/pair, they seem overpriced. Intimissimi has almost the same trunks for far less, and Intimissimi is European.

Ralph Lauren: I never heard the term “Lo Head” before – making a note of that – but, like the author, I have wondered why Ralph Lauren underwear punches above its weight. Much like Calvin Klein, there seems to be a halo around Ralph Lauren underwear. Yet, unlike CK, I have never seen anything special about Ralph Lauren underwear. Even the two options the author highlights are nothing other than regular cotton briefs. I would love to hear why Ralph Lauren gets special treatment!

Example of a Ralph Lauren Underwear Fan
A real-life “Lo Head”.

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Favorite Underwear Style

Now My List of 18 Men’s Underwear Brands to Check Out

As an alternative and more useful companion to GQ, I want to present my list of 18 men’s underwear brands you need to check out. Note that I didn’t say the 18 best men’s underwear brands. There are so many excellent and innovative companies today that it is unfair to say these brands are the best for all guys. Instead, experiment with some of these brands below to start Finding Your Ideal Pair.

First, let’s include the seven brands I agree with from GQ’s list: Calvin Klein, Saxx, Mack Weldon, Lululemon, Uniqlo, Nike, and Under Armour. I could also state that Nike and Under Armour are too similar for both to be on the list, but I will keep both. Now, here are 11 men’s underwear brands not mentioned by GQ that I want you to check out:

T-Bô: GQ’s list had two Swiss underwear companies, yet both were quite expensive. T-Bô is also a Swiss company that sells bamboo underwear, generally starting at around $15-$20/pair. $15-$20 per pair is a far more reasonable price point. I also love that T-Bô actively seeks input from its customers, a process called “Co-Creating.” If you haven’t checked them out yet, I encourage you to do so!

T-bo underwear banner ad

Pair of Thieves: I view Pair of Thieves as everyday underwear that guys can easily afford and is stylish and comfortable. I especially like their special-edition underwear that supports The Trevor Foundation.

Intimissimi: I own a few pairs of Intimissimi trunks, which are relatively good, especially their microfiber line. I am not as big of a fan of their Cotton Stretch trunks in terms of material – I am not a fan of cotton – but I love their color selection. On the other hand, Intimissimi’s microfiber line is a wonderful value compared to other microfiber trunks. Intimissimi is an affordable European alternative to brands like Pair of Thieves and Hanes for everyday wear.

Separatec: Separatec is a notable omission from GQ’s list. As I mentioned earlier, I believe the author made a huge omission by not including brands – other than Saxx – that use proprietary penis pouch technology. I recently tried out Separatec’s Dual-Pouch briefs – using my own money! – and I am 100% in love with these bamboo briefs. Read my review of Separatec’s dual-pouch underwear before buying your new undies.

Seperatec underwear dual pouch
Instructions for wearing Separatec’s Dual Pouch underwear
Anderson/Chiles Bespoke Men's Underwear Brand
Bespoke men’s briefs by Anderson/Chiles

Anderson/Chiles: Anderson/Chiles is a small underwear startup from Northern Ireland, and I previously interviewed Ms. Anderson-Chiles on her startup. Instead of paying a fortune for lackluster and straightforward boxer shorts from Tom Ford or Derek Rose as per GQ’s list, why not get one-of-kind, bespoke undies from Anderson/Chiles? And they aren’t as expensive!

Tommy John: Tommy John’s price tags aren’t for bargain shoppers; Tommy John is high-end. However, if you want a premium product like Mack Weldon, Tommy John is worth checking out. 

Bn3th: Much like I felt GQ’s mention of Nike and Under Armour are similar, I also tend to bunch Saxx and Bn3th together. They are both Canadian underwear companies making a splash in the United States and have their own proprietary ball pouch technology. And both companies have an 85% recycled polyester lineup for the environmentally conscious. So if Saxx is part of the list, I want to mention Bn3th as well. 

MeUndies:  Perhaps MeUndies isn’t serious-sounding if you take your underwear seriously. Yet with a plethora of designs, underwear made from modal, reasonable pricing, and even a great monthly subscription program, MeUndies should be on your list of underwear companies to check out. 

ExOfficio: I don’t own any ExOfficio underwear, yet I can’t ignore how highly rated its Give-n-Go boxer briefs are. Let me know if you have any ExOfficio underwear in the comments!

UFM (Underwear For Men): Men’s underwear companies are leaping over each other in who has the best proprietary pouch design. I love it! UFM’s pouch technology is unique in that it is adjustable. If you seem to have issues with your pouch comfort, you’ll want to check out UFM. But read my full review of UFM first.


Hanes: GQ included Hanes; however, I initially removed Hanes from my list. Now, I am adding it back. The truth is that they are the largest underwear company in the United States, so they are doing something right. And while I’m not too fond of 100% cotton underwear, Hanes is also making strides in bumping up their underwear offerings. For example, they recently came out with their proprietary Total Support Pouch. I haven’t tried it, yet I appreciate their effort. Thus, they earn a spot on my list.

Blog post continues after these brief announcements…

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There you go, my reaction to GQ’s list and then putting my words where my mouth is, my own list of 18 men’s underwear brands guys need to check out. GQ’s list had some good moments. Overall, I didn’t find GQ’s list useful for guys wanting to expand their underwear collection or find their next comfortable pair of underwear.

My list of 18 brands has a good assortment of various brands catering to different styles, features, and price points. Most brands offer underwear below $30/pair, meaning it is reasonable for many guys to purchase. Many brands offer even cheaper styles in the $10-$15 per pair range. 

Ultimately, my goal in creating this website is to help guys find underwear that works for them. Everyone has different tastes and needs, and no one brand or pair works best for everyone. And that is what I love about men’s underwear today and looking towards the future: with so much innovation occurring, all guys can Find Their Ideal Pair of Underwear.

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Last update on 2023-09-23 at 22:09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Eric at

Eric is the creator and writer of He loves boxer briefs and trunks, exploring the new world of briefs, the soft feeling of modal and the lightness of mesh microfiber, and of course writing and researching the world of men's underwear.

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