Tim Moore wanted something more from his boxer shorts.
Some options on the market are a bit baggy in the seat. Others tend to be produced with mediocre materials and can be pricey. Tougher yet is to find a pair that is manufactured in the United States.
Faced with these facts, Mr. Moore, 26, of Shadyside set out to make his own brand, Moore Boxers, which launched an online store in April at www.mooreboxers.com. He sews each pair in a shared manufacturing facility in Millvale he learned about on Craigslis,t where old motorcycles are restored and ornamental metalwork is created. During World War II the building served as an ammunition factory.
“Consumers are forced to go with a product that’s manufactured elsewhere when they’d prefer to buy a product that’s made in the U.S.,” he says. Organic Web searches for apparel like his have attracted attention and sales for the budding business, which he got the idea for a few years ago while a student at the University of Pittsburgh.
He didn’t put the plan into action until after college while looking for a job. With a little extra money set aside, he bought about a dozen boxer shorts and cut them apart one by one at the seams to learn about their construction. He used what he discovered to draft a drawing of the boxers’ design that later was turned into a pattern used to make early samples.
“My whole vision behind this was to make boxers that I’d want to wear,” he says.
For fabrics, he went with premium cotton shirting woven in Japan (tough to find, especially at an affordable price in the U.S., he says) and thread and elastic sourced from American manufacturers. Finding a business to produce the boxers was even trickier. Most had order minimums that exceeded Moore Boxers’ budget, while some others weren’t equipped with the kind of machinery Mr. Moore wanted to use to make them.
“If I was going to build a sustainable business of making boxers in the United States I would have to make them myself,” he says.
But industrial sewing machines -- even used ones -- aren’t cheap. Mr. Moore was hesitant about making the investment until he and a group of co-workers were laid off from their jobs at a scientific products company in late 2012. It gave him the nudge that he needed, he says.
“After handing in my ID badge I drove directly to the sewing machine dealer and bought my first machine.”
Nowadays he divides his time between his job as a marketing analyst and cutting and sewing boxer shorts (skills he taught himself through trial and error, he says). Styles in light pink and pale blue are available for $25 per pair; discounts are offered on first orders when people sign up for the brand’s email list. Moving forward, he hopes to develop more styles, including other clothing selections for men. Being headquartered in Pittsburgh, he says, will give him the resources and support Moore Boxers needs to grow.
“I think the best part of Pittsburgh is that it’s affordable. I could never do anything like this in New York or Los Angeles or any of the larger cities because of my budget. The people, the community have been very positive.”
A party to celebrate, yes, underwear
What are your plans for National Underwear Day on Tuesday? (Yes, that’s indeed a holiday.)
Trim Pittsburgh, the men’s underwear boutique in East Liberty, is throwing its first underwear party nearby at The Livermore on South Highland Avenue. Guests are invited to celebrate from 8-11 p.m. Friday with giveaways, light bites to snack on, a cash bar, a DJ and, of course, a runway show spotlighting the latest men’s underwear trends.
The public is invited to get into the spirit by sporting underwear or swimwear at the party -- but keep it classy, the store asks. Casual clothes are cool, too, for those who’d prefer to keep covered. Tickets are $10 at Trim at 5968 Baum Blvd. or call 412-512-2828. Partial proceeds will go to the Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center.
National Underwear Day was founded in 2003 by online underwear retailer Freshpair. In New York City, the event has been observed with pop-up shops, giveaways and runway shows. In 2013, event organizers attempted to break the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people in their underwear. More than 800 people turned out, but it wasn’t enough to take the title.
For more from style editor Sara Bauknecht, visit the Post-Gazette’s fashion blog Stylebook at www.post-gazette.com/stylebook. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SaraB_PG or email firstname.lastname@example.org.