Psst, fashion watch, fundoshi have become the hot shit in Japan recently! No wonder, since this Japanese tied underwear for men is being rediscovered for its comfort. Generally, we would associate fundoshi with traditional pants or the formal attire for Shinto festival. However nowadays, there are all kinds of fun variations for men and women — and its sales are soaring! PingMag will introduce to you a fine selection that still leaves modern-day Japanese in awe.
Written by Ayana
Translated by Natsumi Yamane
During the Sengoku period, fundoshi used to be a piece of military clothing only worn by the samurai class, but since the Edo period, fundoshi also became widespread among commoners and various historical sources confirm that it established itself as the standard male tied underwear. With the wave of Westernisation after World War II, however, fundoshi gradually went out of fashion to be taken over by western underwear. Beware of the boxers invasion…
But! Since a TV programme reported that the Mitsukoshi department store was selling fundoshi as “Classic Pants” several years ago, the sales of fundoshi began to rocket. Apparently every year around June, Mitsukoshi’s fundoshi range at their men’s underwear department expands to go with the summer yukata season.
Mr. Kanagi from Mitsukoshi men’s underwear department in Ginza explains,
“We used to sell around 500 pieces every year, but since it got the media attention, the sales have doubled and we have already sold the same number in the first half of this year alone. The variety of colours and patterned designs have increased after it was shown on TV and we now even sell a line made from silk for people with delicate skin.
For the older customers who habitually wear fundoshi, the standard red or white ones are the most popular. However recently, younger customers started giving patterned fundoshi as a Valentine’s Day gift, as this underwear is basically one-size-fits-all and it can be worn by both men and women. Because it is comfortable to wear with no tightness of elastics or uncomfortable creases, ladies who prefer natural styles seem to find its wearability attractive.”
Mitsukoshi’s original selection of classic fundoshi with a wide variety of colours.
Patterned classic fundoshi pants come in a slightly different packaging.
Note: Fundoshi comes in five or six prominent styles with different shapes and ways of tying and the “Ecchu Fundoshi” is the popular type that is commonly worn at festivals and other formal occasions.
An underwear cloth to be tied from “Edoten” online: This style is called the “Ecchu Fundoshi.”
Another product to be tied as underwear from online store “Edoten.”
Apart from specialist stores, fundoshi underwear is surely also available online where you can easily find some with modern designs. For example, the online store Edoten offers a wide selection of modernised and unique traditional pants.
A popular design of a carp print, also from “Edoten.”
Another fast-selling motif of a dragon, from “Edoten.”
Since actress Saya Takagi revealed on a TV programme in February that she habitually wore one, attention has also been focusing on the ladies’ fundoshi! At the online store Love Supplement, their sales increased tenfold, twentyfold, since they started selling ladies’ fundoshi under the name of “Pendre Shorts.” We asked Ms. Karukaya from Love Supplement about the buzz:
“These days, perhaps because of the influence of nature-oriented Saya Takagi, ‘Pendre Shorts’ made from natural fabric are popular. We have a line that is made using the highest quality organic cotton and they are one of our best-selling products.”
So, people have been also conscious of the materials that fundoshi is made from: At Love Supplement, they offer ladies’ fundoshi that use a special fabric called ferrite fibre sewn into it that emits far-infrared rays to improve the human body vibrations and relieve various of specifically womens’ health problems. Who knew!
From Love Supplement: A ladies’ fundoshi made from organic materials.
Also from Love Supplement: Another funky design printed with Ukiyo-e patterns.
From Love Supplement: Japanese cute little cherry blossoms resembling kimono patterns…
… and even a Hawaiian print! Summer! Also from Love Supplement.
Lastly: The How-to Knot
Those legs! A man in fundoshi at a festival in Kanda, Tokyo.
Now, once again, why has fundoshi become so popular? The greatest advantage is probably its comfort. With a fundoshi, there is no tightness that you would get from elasticised underpants and it almost feels as if you aren’t wearing it at all. That, no doubt, makes it comfortable to wear even during the oh so hot and humid Japanese summer. A fundoshi pant made from hemp is particularly breathable and dries fast so there is no need to keep many of them either. Also, as fundoshi is made simply by sewing a piece of cloth on to a string, more and more people are starting to make their own unique underwear. With the humidity already coming up this summer, let’s see if this boom will outlive the season.
Come on and give it a try! You’ll never wear something else once you tried a comfy fundoshi! Thanks to everyone who helped with this article.