NEW YORK – Liberate your undies! That's what one online retailer is imploring Americans to do Wednesday.
To help get the party started, the undergarment e-shop is unleashing 20 models clad only in their drawers onto the streets of New York City petitioning to make Aug. 13 a day to honor underwear. Supporters can also add their names to the list on Freshpair.com's Web site.
Company spokesman Sean Evans said underwear’s transition from hidden white unmentionables to fashion accessories deserves celebration. After all, the Victoria's Secret (search) fashion show is a prime-time TV special, and intimate apparel is the fastest growing sector in the apparel market on the Internet, he said.
“Everyone wears it. Eighteen out of every 20 people spend a significant amount of time each morning deciding what underwear to wear,” he said. “Why shouldn’t they be able to talk about it?”
It may get tongues wagging, but should people really be encouraged to show off their underwear to unsuspecting strangers on the streets?
“While I wouldn't consider myself a prude, I would prefer folks to keep their underwear ‘under wraps’ when in public,” Tracee Larson, an account director in Arlington, Texas, wrote in an e-mail.
“A guy can have a really hot body, but if I see the boxer waistband over his pants? That's just plain sloppy dressing in my book," she said.
Matt Kozlowski, 32, a financial advisor in Houston, Texas said guys showing off their boxers was a trend about five years ago, spawned by hip-hop style, which he found “stupid” and was happy to see die out.
“But now it’s the girls doing it,” he said. “They have the hip jeans where you can sometimes see the thong come up from behind. Or they have a sheer shirt and you can see the bra through it.”
Kozlowski doesn’t find peek-a-boo panties sexy, though. “You see it more often on younger girls, like high-school age, and that’s not the right thing for them to be doing. Showing a thong is more of an attention grabber ... It’s less trying to look sexy or be enticing as to shock.”
Opinions may vary, but Freshpair is confident that they can collect 500,000 signatures and make the day a tribute to underclothes.
Wearing full coverage underwear (boy-shorts, full-back panties and camisoles for women, and boxers or briefs for guys) the models will walk around the city hitting such congested zones as Times Square, City Hall and the New York Stock Exchange. And — germaphobes don’t read this — they’ll even be riding the subways in their skivvies.
But some are worried about all that skin showing.
“I find it unfortunate we have a company going to such an extent to sell products, and that’s all this is about, “ said Bill Johnson, president of the American Decency Association.
Despite his disapproval, Johnson predicted that many people will be only too happy to exhibit their intimates.
“Naïve people will just jump right in line and join in the day,” he said. “They don’t have the personal dignity to avoid such commercial trickery.”
However, Evans stressed that the idea is to have fun, not push a product. “You should hear about National Underwear Day and you should smile,” he said. ”It’s not a pressing issue, it’s fun.”
Although Kozlowski won't be showing off what's under his clothes, he said he sees nothing wrong with celebrating underwear one day of the year.
“It seems like there are days for everything else," he said. "But if they called for everyone to just wear their underwear to work, I don’t think that would fly.”