The traditional fundoshi, otherwise known as a loincloth, is making a major comeback in the country, with men and women alike sporting the garment as a fashionable new style of underwear.
The fundoshi fell out of popularity after World War II, as it was replaced by trunks and briefs. Until recently, it was mainly sported by men at traditional festivals and, of course and more famously, by sumo wrestlers. Yet the comfortable nature of the design has, according to some, meant that men and women are now embracing silky loincloths as a breezier and more comfortable style of underwear.
This isn’t the first time there’s been a fundoshi revival in Japan. The loincloth trend was first sparked in 2009 when lingerie firm Wacoal introduced luxury loincloths to their lingerie offering as both underwear and swimwear. However according to Japan Trends, they’re now back again and are a must-have for the summer season.
Such is the hype around them that dedicated loincloth shops such as Teraya in Nagasaki City and online shop Fundoshibu have opened to cater to the growing demand. The Japan Fundoshi Association has even been set up with an ambitious mission statement on their website : ‘We are aiming for the arrival of such an era in which all Japanese wear loincloths by 2020.’ Watch this space.
In fact, the Japan Fundoshi website makes a convincing case for embracing the garment and highlights the perils of tight-fitting underwear. These include the fact that skin respiration is hindered, which means energy is wasted when you’re trying to sleep; tight underwear obstructs blood flow, makes the skin’s temperature drop, and over time the body will become increasingly exhausted from having to combat these effects.
So if you’re looking for an underwear update this year, why not look to Japan and embrace the loincloth – if the country’s influence on fashion trends remains as prominent, in a few years, everyone will be wearing them.