Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Boxers or briefs?


As sales of women’s clothing have languished, felled by complaints about a lack of new fashions or fashions that women actually want to wear (who can forget the Jessica Simpson in high-waisted jeans debacle?), men’s apparel has been pointed to as a bright spot in an otherwise weak market.

model2But what exactly have men been buying?

Well, it appears to be underwear.

According to data released by NPD, the dollar value of apparel sales in the first half of this year was down 7 percent compared with a year ago, with sales of tailored clothing falling the most — down 11.4 percent.

There were only two categories that showed sales growth — fleecewear up 2.1 percent (We wonder if sales of Snuggies were captured in that number?) and male underwear — up 4.8 percent.

Part of that growth was due to higher prices. The average price for a piece of male underwear in the first half of the year was $2.93, up from $2.86 a year ago, according to NPD.