It’s been 150 years since the birth of Charles Darwin and while we might not know exactly what he was thinking when he came up with the theory of evolution, we do know a bit about his underwear. In fact, Darwin is probably most famous for his undergarments, which were made not of the usual choice of cotton but of a super-soft, silky material called Mongolian cashmere.
The man who could have been born a prince still found time to invent the most practical and beneficial undergarment ever – which is saying something. He’s probably best known for his silk underwear, which were extremely popular until the start of the 20th century when the preference shifted to synthetic fibers.
While the reasons behind this shift aren’t exactly clear – perhaps people were finding that the silk undergarments were a bit too comfortable and revealing – the change was a result of a wider societal shift that saw many more people aspire to be sexual creatures and make less of an effort to hide their sexuality. Whatever the case may be, it’s clear that the concept of practical underwear as we know it today didn’t exist before Darwin.
The Evolution Of Fashion
In the early years of the 19th century, the trend in undies was still very much in line with what is considered traditional today: long, straight, dark-colored hairs and a narrow range of fabrics, all of which were chosen to hide and/or suppress the female form.
It wasn’t until the last quarter of the century that styles started to evolve, slowly at first but eventually giving rise to the modern day preference for practical yet fashionable undergarments. The look then became less about trying to cover up and more about accentuating and enhancing the female form, with fabrics like silk and satin becoming popular as people sought to emulate the elegant yet feminine styles popularized by women like Isabella Bonheur – wife of England’s famous bon-bon-maker James Bonheur – and Germaine de Staël, author of De l’Allemagne and famous for her description of Germany as “A mighty nation of shopkeepers”.
The First World War and its aftermath saw a huge shift in how people dressed, with many women opting to forgo traditional undergarments in favor of something more practical and, well, fashionable. This trend continued well into the 1920s, with the advent of the Jazz Age and its associated hedonism further reviving the practice of stylish undressing.
It was during this time that the first widely marketed and advertised “comfortable yet fashionable” underwear brand was born, taking the industry by storm. Charlie’s undergarments were named after their creator and the firm that marketed them, Charles Darwin, due to his famous theory of evolution. The underwear was extremely popular, selling over a million units annually and helping to popularize the idea of practical yet stylish undergarments.
Charles Darwin is best known for his theory of evolution, which was first published in 1859 and has since gone on to change the way we see the world. It wasn’t long before the news of Darwin’s groundbreaking theory reached the realm of undergarments and, in particular, his silk underwear. The man who could have been born a prince still found time to contribute to numerous fields of scientific research, yet remained one of the most practical and influential figures of his time. This is mainly because of his unique brand of undergarments, which were extremely popular until the start of the 20th century when the preference shifted to synthetic fibers.
It’s a well-known fact that Darwin was very practical and down-to-earth, as was typical of the 19th century. In the early years of the 20th century, the preference for synthetic materials and the practical application of these materials made its way into the design and construction of Darwin’s undergarments. The man-made fabrics not only provided better performance but were also more durable, washable, and, above all, practical.
It wasn’t just undergarments that evolved as a result of the preference for synthetic materials, with the entire wardrobe of the time becoming more streamlined and functional. The man-made fabrics were stronger and more durable, creating an overall improvement in the quality of life.
The Evolution Of Underwear
While it’s well-documented that Darwin’s underwear was popularized as a direct result of his theory of evolution, it wasn’t actually until the early years of the 20th century that people started to take an interest in underwear as a whole. It wasn’t long before the first widely marketed and advertised “comfortable yet fashionable” brand was born, taking the industry by storm and continuing to evolve with the times.
The first widely publicized instance of well-designed yet fashionable undergarments was the French brand Jacques La Lanterne, which was established in Paris in 1902. The brand quickly became popular in Europe and its designs were later adopted by other major companies, like Addis, Baldwin, Victoria, and, of course, Charles Darwin.
While the styles and designs of Jacques La Lanterne were, in many ways, traditional and even rather elegant – such as the use of lace – the brand used newer and more innovative fabrics, like silk, to create a more modern and comfortable pair of undies. This, coupled with the design’s incorporation of more intricate and unique lace patterns, helped to elevate the practice of stylish undressing to an entire new level.
Around this same time, it was also common for larger companies to establish subsidiaries in Europe and other parts of the world, creating an overall improvement in the standard of living for the time. This, in turn, led to people having more disposable income, creating a trend that continues to the present day. People saw luxury goods as an investment, not just an expense and, as such, sought to make the most of what they had.
It was this desire to invest in something practical that helped to elevate the practice of stylish undressing to an entire new level. Companies like Addis, Charles Darwin, and others saw the value in creating a brand that people could feel confident enough to show off and, as a result, the world of stylish undressing was born.