Several months ago I undertook a project on Permanent Style to find the best underwear in the world, in terms of both quality and style. I interviewed Zimmerli, The White Briefs, Sunspel and Hanro, and tested out their product (wearing and washing for at least 10 days).
The best underwear was undoubtedly from Zimmerli, the Switzerland-based company that is also the most expensive. Some of their styling may be a little old-fashioned, but if you find a style you like then their make is great and their materials unmatched.
I also visited Zimmerli’s facilities to see the production first hand, in order to include them in my forthcoming book: The Finest Menswear in the World.
The project was not in abstract. Having decided that Zimmerli was the best in the world, and tried out five different styles, I threw out every old tatty pair of pants I owned and replaced them with Zimmerli. More specifically, the Pureness Closed-Fly Pant in white.
That may be more than you wanted to know about my nether garments.
But for those that are interested in the technical details, the underwear is made from a natural beech-tree cellulose called micro modal – very similar to cotton but made from reconstituted cellulose fibres. It’s more environmentally friendly than cotton, absorbs moisture faster and is finer than that or silk.
But those were not the reasons I chose micro modal. I chose it because it’s an essentially natural fibre that has intrinsic stretch. Add a small amount of Lycra (5%) and it is highly comfortable and more breathable than a more synthetic stretch fabric. Several people I interviewed during the underwear project told me of the important of 100% cotton for breathability, but frankly I haven’t found that to be the case.
I bought my stock from A Suitable Wardrobe, Will Boehlke’s rapidly expanding online haberdashery. Over the past few years the ASW store has become the biggest source for the best formal accessories and clothing in the world, particularly for my favourites like Bresciani socks. There’s an early sale on, too.
– NOTE: See comments for some negative experiences on the wear on white pairs –