It began innocently enough before it was an obsession; as these things always go.
A single pair of underwear, emblazoned with the illustrious Hokusai's Great Wave off Kanagawa, isolated, lost within the hundreds of production booths at a tradeshow in Las Vegas, Nevada. A simple familiar design, but with a radiance that emanated deep into my being, shaking the very core of what I believed boxer briefs could be. No longer were we bound by deciding between gray and black or between stock patterns of dogs and pumpkins. No. Millennia of human genius and creativity deserved more than that. We are a species defined by our art, our obsessions, and our ability to create lasting inspiration for those who will follow. Why are we wasting our lives, withering away in underwear that we purchased due to necessity and not love? No singular piece of clothing will ever be more intimate with your body than underwear, yet we sell our butt out to the lowest bidder, time and time again.
For a moment, standing in awe, I was no longer Pete. I was a dreamer, a born-again designer with a penchant for boxer briefs. Brief. What a word. One syllable. A source of countless puns. And invoking an immediate mental image of men's underwear. A Brief History of Art. Oh my. The rare, perfect pun; a phrase in which an entire brand can be built around. Not only would we sell underwear; we would take visitors on a journey from the dawn of humankind to our modern day aesthetic; told entirely through a lower-body canvas. Timeless paintings, sculptures, frescos, and music deserved more than a display at a museum none of us will ever get to visit. We needed to live art, breathe it, and begin every day with a centering in the appreciation for human ambition. I returned home anew.
Before long I was carrying a bag of underwear samples between every engineering course at the University of Michigan. Rather than calculating mechanical properties of composites or pretending like I knew what was going on in quantum kinetics, I was curating art. Art that had a history; art that defined cultures and civilizations; art that had a perfect aspect ratio for men's underwear. I was joined by Joey, a senior Psychology & Sociology major that had become equally as disillusioned in college and equally as enamored in Brief.
With just a few weeks before college graduation, our final samples had arrived. An offhand suggestion from my roommate, Luv, led to the Briefcase, a genius pun and packaging method for every case of briefs. What was once a dream was now an incredibly comfortable pair of form-fitting underwear, emboldened with 10 defining masterpieces, manufactured by our brilliant partners in China. It was inspiration enough for Joey and me to quit our jobs, less than a month out of college, and pour every dollar we had into a full-run of inventory. So buy a pair for yourself, a briefcase for your son, or just a box to display.