March 21, 2015 by Ville Raivio
I cannot recall the first time I saw French back boxer shorts, but they were on Brooks Brothers’ webstore and have stayed in the company wares to this day. The reader with good memory will remember that I have a thing for underwear, and I’ve been hunting for “the best” pair for at least ten years. So far the best pairs I’ve found from Schiesser, and they still offer an unbeatable price-quality deal as my pairs have no lint, torn seams, faded colour, or holes after many years of use. Still, the French back model looked unlike any other I’ve seen, and I couldn’t shake off the thought of giving them a try. I now have pair and you need to read on.
The brothers of Brooks tell us that the model is “A classic staple from our archives in pure cotton broadcloth. This self-fabric waistband without elastic features a button-front yoke, sized by waist size and adjusted with button tabs for the perfect fit.” The waistband is indeed peculiar. There’s no elastic, no internal structure, just two pieces of shirting sewn together. The backside band has a pre-tied bow that cannot be opened, it’s a showpiece with no use other than a quaint vintage look. Then again, I may just have a pair with poor make.
The French backs are cut high on the waist and very loose, and the rise is sky-high so the last, best manly parts have lots of room to roam. They are sized in two-inch increments, the fit is exact and ruthless on those with a size in between. The chap with a 33” waist, say, should either take a size up or move the yoke buttons for additional room. Speaking of the buttons, they are dull plastic and loosely sewn, but work well and look swell.
The boxer shorts stay in place very well all day, and the roomy cut is freeing. While the listing states that the pieces are made from broadcloth, my pair is poplin. Luckily it’s the better kind of shirting, very smooth, very soft, very firm. I’ve never had problems with woven shirt fabrics shrinking or pilling, so I trust these will last several years. The shorts are kind to the skin, though the elasticless waisband seems strange at first, and the model looks closer to loincloth than underwear. They reach up an inch below the navel, and down two inches away from the knee.
The stitching is straight but not dense, and the front part has inch-deep pleats. The pair is made in China, costs some $30, and only comes in two colours. Summa summarum: the BB French back boxer shorts are charming, well-made, feel excellent, and have a peculiar vintage look I enjoy. I only wish they’d offer it in more colours and fabrics with MoP buttons, and that the dollar’s exchange rate wasn’t so high these days. I hope the model stays in production for many decades to come. These shorts are unique.