Fundoshi: the innerwear sanctum of Cool Biz

June 21st, 2013 by Mai Hasebe & Eric Ruble

Despite the energy-conserving Cool Biz campaign — inaugurated in 2005 by former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi — becoming a household word, according to a recent poll by The Suit Company 28.8% of women thought Cool Biz casual dress was still inappropriate at work.

The new trad fundoshi

The new trad fundoshi

What’s a well-intentioned man to do? Well, how about taking the Cool Biz under your suit?

This past March innerwear maker Wacoal launched a new underwear line for men called Fundoshi NEXT (ふんどしNEXT). Fundoshi is as traditional as you can get with underwear in Japan. Before Western briefs arrived, they were the undergarment of choice. In public, they are a common sight at traditional festivals, and sumo wrestlers wear a more elaborate version. While there are several types of fundoshi, they all involve a strap and piece of cloth material. Looking a bit like a fat thong, the fundoshi exposes a large part of the buttocks.

Wacoal’s spin on this tradition, which echoes the recent rage for suteteko, adopts the original fundoshi’s breathability and sense of openness, while utilizing a modern design and quick-drying material. Combining the best of old and new, Wacoal is offering a revealing remedy to the summer heat.

This fundoshi revival is also spreading to woman’s underwear.  FFsee recently launched an online fundoshi shop playfully called Aifun (love + fundoshi) aimed at women. With the motto of “sayonara sutoresu” (goodbye stress), they hope to give customers a more comfortable fit than typical panties. FFsee says that the less constricting fundoshi will decrease swelling and improve skin quality.

A Japanese saying says, “to know the new, look to the old” (古きを尋ね新しきを知る). Call it old school, but these risque retro looks could leave you smiling cheek-to-cheek.

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