Roger Marolt ColumnistSnowmass Village, CO, Colorado

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May 15, 2012
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Roger Marolt: Beneath economic recovery is a nice pair of undies

Last week when people here were arguing about Spandex cycling clothing I had a suspicion. This week things have happened to make me sure. Finally things are turning around with the economy. It's not just a vague feeling that it's getting better, there is concrete, indisputable, substantiated, nonbunching evidence that things have turned: "An upper limit to what men's underwear can cost cannot be seen." At least not by Matthew Butein, president of the Freshpair men's underpants company, whose quote appeared in The Denver Post, where this exciting news was reported last week.You know things are good, economically speaking, when suddenly underwear for grown men, some of whom can grow mustaches and appreciate good scotch, come in hues of "limeade" and "splash," and people don't laugh. What's more, apparently buyers of this lingerie with a fly are eager to shell out extra bucks for the stuff.Who can argue? This isn't your grandpa's truss. There's a friggin' brand of briefs called Frigo that have been developed at a cost of more than $2 million. That's some serious r&d. The result is amazing, though. Think of the benefits of slipping into a pair of Facebook-age undergarments that have "an adjustable interior mesh pouch suspended from elastic straps, bonded leg holes, and laser-cut vents for aeration"? Don't you dare call these drawers "tighty whities"!The real evidence that things have turned around and money thankfully no longer matters again is that all these features can be had for $100 a pair and, apparently, men have their panties in a wad to buy them. It's no consideration at all that these fruits of the boom can't even be thrown into a hot dyer to wear now and stretch out later, and presumably cannot be tossed in with red T-shirts either. "Special care" may be the next hot topic in gym locker rooms and softball dugouts (no pun intended...seriously) near you.There are manufacturers concentrating on the working man, too. Maybe you don't get rainbow stripes and a snakeskin waistband, but for just $36 a pair, the more down to earth male can get Naked brand undies woven from "microfiber spun on a 40-gauge machine with distilled water from the Italian Alps." Wow! Snowmass tap, anyone? I wonder if you can regenerate that like-new feeling by rinsing a slightly used pair of these babies in Maroon Creek after a long hike.Gone are the dark days of using a coupon to buy a six-pack of Hanes at Target for twelve bucks. In prosperous times no self-respecting male would be caught dead, much less striped down on a hospital gurney after the accident that his mother warned him about, in a pair of briefs that don't make a statement when he can't.Here's the thing: as most men know, a good pair of underwear can last nearly forever. They might get a little thin and faded over time, but they can still do the job, which is pretty nontechnical if you think about it, for decades, assuming you rotate them in and out of the lineup regularly. Fabulous undies that a man can put on underneath his Carharts for no other reason than to make himself feel sexy are a definite luxury item. During hard times, he has to rely on more creative ideas like trimming his toenails to get his skin all tingly. What I'm driving at is not that opening a new Victor's Secret store in Base Village is going to bring prosperity back to our community. The underwear thing is only a leading economic indicator. As my grandfather always maybe used to say, "The day a man will pay a hundred bucks for a pair of Egyptian cotton girlfriend-cut bikini underpants that come in a perfumed package is the day I'll shell out a half a million samolians for a three-week timeshare in Snowmass Village." And, I don't think grandpa was the only one who was thinking like this. Do you see where I'm going?The light is at the end of the tunnel. Future timeshare sales are the upside to this low-rise point in the history of men's clothing. Of course we can't just run out the same old product without some sort of modification, though. Nobody in their right mind will buy a "timeshare." "Fractional Ownership Units" are dead. But, I have a feeling that the "intermittent estate" has some potential. Think of it...The "i-Estate." Who's going to be able to live without one of those for a few predetermined rotating weeks per year? Certainly not anyone in a respectable pair of undies. Roger Marolt is scratching his ... head over this one. Contact him at roger@maroltllp.com.


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The Aspen Times Updated May 15, 2012 05:17PM Published May 15, 2012 05:15PM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.