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No shy guys: A peek at men’s skivvies

Cover models: Deron Carlis, left, and Desi Arnau, mixed-martial arts fighers from Kansas City. Both are wearing boxer shorts from TJ Maxx.

Behind-the-scenes

The models: MMA fighter Desi Arnau, Gladstone; MMA fighter Deron Carlis (@PharaohCarlis), Leawood and boxer Sanunu Kalokoh, Merriam.

Photo styling: Lindsey Kupper, Jujoustyle.

Location: RNE Boxing Club, Merriam, owned by Leo Moreno.

Ink

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we’ll let you in on Victoria’s dirty little secret: Men are having just as much fun with their underwear.

Yep. Dad might be the only guy wearing boring ol’ tighty-whities anymore.

The offerings in the men’s department have exploded with bright colors, fun prints, high-tech fabrics and fashion features like piping and color-blocking.

We bring this up for the holiday of love because marketers and economists have noticed that when men feel more confident about themselves — like when they’re wearing new underwear — they go out more and date more.

Speaking of which, the new Tush Skivvies (tushskivvies.com) have a pocket sewn inside the waistband to stash a condom “for unexpected romance,” says the company, which promotes safe sex.

Men’s underwear, now a $2 billion industry, has taken on a life of its own. Sales are up — 13 percent in 2012 — and rising faster than any other category of men’s apparel.

Small, upstart brands are muscling into the crowded marketplace every day. Blue-jean king Levi Strauss & Co. is getting into the business, too. Levi announced in January that it will begin to market men’s underwear this fall in the United States and Europe.

Women’s Wear Daily dubbed spring 2014 the season of the “action figure” in men’s underwear, noting the popularity of comfortable, made-for-action boxer briefs. The athletic love child of the boxer and brief is the most popular silhouette in men’s underwear, now making up more than 40 percent of the business.

“As underwear brands continually embrace smaller and more revealing silhouettes, including jockstraps, the boxer brief still apparently reigns supreme,” note the style-watchers at Underwearexpert.com.

Everyone is making boxer briefs, from designer stalwarts like Calvin Klein and Emporio Armani to everyman brands like Jockey and Fruit of the Loom.

If you’re shopping for an undercover Valentine treat for someone this week, check out these other trends:

  • High-tech fabrics: Basic cotton, for decades the staple of the business, is dead. Moisture-resistant, easy-stretch, quick-drying and microfiber fabrics have turned men’s underwear into science projects.

Coming soon from Australian company Alpha + Omega: Underwear made from bamboo and milk-protein fibers. At the highest end, Frigo’s RevolutionWear last year introduced a $100 pair of Freshpair boxer briefs made of nylon microfiber with breathable “mesh zones,” “laser-cut” vents in the rear and silicone-lined leg openings to keep them from riding up.

  • High-fashion: Is that a boxer on your boxers or are you just happy to see me? Tacos. Kittens. The Union Jack. Lipstick lips. Is there any pattern that hasn’t been printed on a pair of men’s skivvies?

Alpha + Omega printed graphic Mondrian pop art on briefs. Donatella Versace went Wild West with bandana-print briefs at Milan Fashion Week in the fall.

  • Celebrity designers: Mario Lopez, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo are all designing their own lines. Memphis Grizzlies forward Mike Miller is collaborating with a new line from PSD Underwear, a brand popular with pro athletes and in the hip-hop world.

To reach Lisa Gutierrez, call 816-234-4987 or send email to lgutierrez@kcstar.com.

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