Fundoshi - Trader and Shogun Underwear


Our luxurious underwear is made by skilled craftspeople in Japan, so let’s look at the history of this garment in Japan. Nowadays boxer briefs are popular across the world, but traditional underwear known as fundoshi were worn by Japanese men and women till modern styles were introduced after the Second World War. So what is a fundoshi and what materials were used? Was it just for the wealthy or worn across Japanese society? 

Did Samurai wear underwear?

A fundoshi is a type of loincloth referenced in Japanese texts as early as the Heian period. The name is derived from two Japanese characters: fun (褌) meaning cloth, and doshi (通し), meaning to pass through or to wear. Over the centuries several styles were worn. Essentially it is a strip of cloth wound around the hips and passed between the legs. Often these were made of cotton or hemp, but silk was sometimes used. Prints from the Edo Period show shogun and samurai putting on fundoshi. They wore it beneath their armour, maintaining comfort during active training or service. But fundoshi were not reserved for the higher classes. Farm workers and tradespeople would have also worn one, often with a piece of the cloth hanging in front of the crotch area like an apron. 

What does fundoshi mean in Japanese culture today?

Today fundoshi are still worn at special festivals and traditional ceremonies at Shinto shrines, providing a link to Japanese history. They are also worn for sporting activities like swimming, and sumo wrestlers wear a type of fundoshi. This simple garment has been essential to the Japanese wardrobe for centuries, providing modesty, comfort and support. This history inspires us here at Velarof to create underwear that feels like a second skin, perfect for any occasion or activity.