Greenspan has a very accurate men’s underwear index

The Men’s Underwear Index looks to be real.
The Men’s Underwear Index looks to be real.
Image: AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis
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Just as the US economy has strengthened through the years, so too have sales of mens underwear.

Be it briefs, boxer briefs or boxers, sales across North America increased by $1.1 billion since 2009, giving credence to former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan’s theory, the Men’s Underwear Index, which tells us that by tracking sales of male undergarments we can detect the beginnings of an economic recovery.

The sales performance of Hanes, well-known for selling underwear among other undergarments, shows a similar trend.

Some underwear makers, of course, are facing headwinds, despite the upward trend in sales. Much like the overall luxury retail market, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger have suffered as the dollar has strengthened against the euro and yen, cutting back the amount foreign tourists have to spend in the US. Both brands are suffering from a bloat of goods, leading to tons of sales promotions.

There are bright spots. Sales of full-priced Tommy Hilfiger underwear doubled in Europe and the US during the second-half of 2015,  CEO Emanuel Chirico told investors during a March 24 conference call, thanks to tennis star Rafael Nadal and a viral underwear ad (the video had over 500 million impressions in 40 countries).

Sales may be rising, but that does not reflect the preferred style of underwear waistlines. We’re still waiting to for a clever economist to factor that into an economic index.