In 1934, a Wisconsin-based fashion designer named Arthur Kneibler received a piece of mail that would revolutionize the male undergarment industry. It was a postcard from a friend visiting the French Riviera which depicted a man wearing a short, snug, bikini-esque bathing suit.
That image gave Kneibler an idea for a new type of men’s underwear.
Just a decade earlier, boxers shorts took the market by storm. But their loose fit couldn’t compete with long johns. Thus, Kneibler created a prototype: a legless undergarment with a Y-shaped opening for easy access—what we now call “tighty whities.”
Early adopters noted that the new undies were nearly as supportive as a jockstrap, so Kneibler dubbed them “Jockey” shorts. Within 90 days, 30,000 pairs of Jockey shorts were sold across America.
Tighty whities had an unprecedented run, but as we look back nearly 90 years later, it’s apparent that they’ve lost their appeal—for now.