Rihanna is helping men’s lingerie come into the mainstream (Pics: Savage X Fenty)
The word “lingerie” derives from the Old French word “linge” (which means “linen”) and has for the past century-and-a-half been used to refer to underwear. Whilst “lingerie” was meant to serve as a euphemism for the then-scandalous “under-linen” in English, it’s fair to say that the word has taken a sexy turn from its humble textile-related origins.
However, in terms of who the word would be useful for, lingerie has almost exclusively been used to refer to undergarments for women, with men’s underwear – for the most part, at least – retaining the modest and practical roots of the early 20th century.
Enter Barbadian bad gal, pop star, businesswoman and fashion designer, Rihanna. The artist, who uses her surname in her business endeavours, launched lingerie brand Savage X Fenty with TechStyle Fashion Group in 2018 to rave reviews.
From the start, Rihanna set out to make inclusivity a central part of the brand. Fashion, dance and music are combined at Savage X Fenty fashion shows, and these events feature models with all body shapes and from all backgrounds – this has since expanded to also include pregnant models and models with physical disabilities.
At Savage X Fenty Vol. 3, held in September last year, Rihanna debuted a men’s underwear collection, tapping into another market that was eagerly waiting. Upon the release of the new line, Rihanna said in a statement, “I wanted to create men’s wear styles that everyone can wear.” Savage X Fenty’s men’s collection proved a sensation: it quickly sold out.
In the run-up to Valentine’s Day 2022, eBay reported a 60% increase in searches for men’s lingerie on the site, compared to January of the previous year. This jump coincided with the release of Savage X Fenty’s latest line of men’s lingerie, which included pieces like a harness and mesh underwear in bright red.
The reaction to the latest line was certainly enthusiastic, with one online fan saying, “One thing about Rihanna and Savage X Fenty is that they listen! When she first put out the men’s collection we collectively said ‘girl we want more sexy ish, not just basic boxers and briefs.’ Now look… other brands should take note.”
The latest line of lingerie is again modeled by men with a range of different looks and body shapes. The collection pulls no punches and is purposely sensual.
It is indisputable that Rihanna has had a significant hand in the renewed interest that men’s lingerie is currently getting, and perhaps this can be ascribed to her insistence that the brand releases collections that “everyone can wear”. Gone are the days when searching for sensual men’s underwear would inevitably lead guys to sex shops, as the most daring thing one might find in a general fashion retailer or online store would be a jockstrap.
With interest in men’s lingerie growing, and it seemingly being embraced by an entire plethora of male-identifying consumers – gay men, especially – there might just be a scantily clad revolution on its way.
At its helm is a woman that has also been an advocate for the queer community, and who has been a favourite among this community since first entering the scene. If the modern meaning of “lingerie” has a certain, so-sexy-it’s-almost-sinful, carnal connotation, Robyn Rihanna Fenty may be bad – but she’s perfectly good at it.