A Pair of Boxers for $400? Men's Underwear Goes High-End
Seated in their garment district showroom last week, the designers Parke Lutter and Ronen Jehezkel awaited the arrival of a group of young hopefuls auditioning for an event to celebrate the debut of a collection of high-end Parke & Ronen underwear.
The designers, who, starting in 1997, carved out a solid niche in a once fusty and now booming category, men’s swimwear, overcame their initial hesitance to enter a field dominated by designers like Mr. Hilfiger when customers expressed their desire for underwear, Mr. Lutter said, “that fit well, was made from good materials, was clean and athletic but sexy.”
What persuaded them was the resounding chorus of friends who referred to the duo’s frankly sexy runway presentations as “the Victoria’s Secret show for men,” along with the recognition that their client base — as represented by the young models slouching outside the showroom — had undergone a generational shift.
More than two decades after the term “metrosexual” was coined as a catchall for a new breed of consumer, men have eased into their role as the object of other people’s gaze. “Social media really put the skin out there,” said Seth Wilkerson, a 24-year-old model who was at the Parke and Ronen audition, and the designers readily seconded the opinion.
“Look, you could put the sexy pictures on the web and do it in your three-pack BVDs,” Mr. Jehezkel said. “But let’s face it, you’re not going to get as many likes.”