Luxury men’s underwear anyone? And if not, why not? For years, women have been spending time and money picking out the kind of lingerie that makes them feel and look special and now, at last, there’s a brand that’s helping men to do the same. It’s not lingerie per se, but the boxer shorts and loungewear from Hamilton and Hare is about as close as a masculine version gets.
Paying as much attention to detail as the rest of the wardrobe, these pieces elevate underwear to something far beyond the more functional basics. Since its launch, the collection has expanded into sleepwear and loungewear and is sold internationally. Key stockists include Mr Porter, Matches, Barneys and Selfridges, and the brand opened its first stand-alone store on new-luxury hotspot Chiltern Street, Marylebone, in 2016.
The first Hamilton and Hare project was a reinvention of the traditional boxer short to make it more suitable for modern trousers and trends. Inspired by its origins in the boxing ring, founder Olivia Francis went off to see a Savile Row tailor to collaborate on creating a unique tailored pattern for a revolutionary fit and feel.
Francis, who previously worked in advertising, says she was struck by the fact that, despite the statistics showing menswear growing at twice the rate of womenswear, there wasn’t any smart underwear for men. “Women’s lingerie is worth $30 billion and there’s so much choice,” she says. “As a woman, it’s an enjoyable experience to go shopping for lingerie; there are lots of silks and other beautiful fabrics. But there wasn’t anything much like this for men – in fact, the men’s underwear space contained poor quality across the board and is usually made outside Europe with cheap bulk production – so I wondered whether I could change that and set out to offer them something exciting.”
After all, underwear is the first thing you put on and the last thing you take off,” says Francis. “I don’t understand why people so often consider it the least important part of their wardrobe!”
And now for the all-important ethical side. Hamilton and Hare source all their fabrics from European mills and use only natural fibres like cotton and lyocell (a cellulose fibre from wood pulp), cashmere and linens. “All of them biodegrade naturally and last for a very long time,” says Francis. “For me luxury doesn’t necessarily mean high fashion but is just about wonderful products. It’s not so much about things being gold-crusted or having sexy advertising as it is about making a product that people really want and makes them feel good.”