Underwear With Expiration Dates? A Full Review Of The “Basic Man” Essentials Subscription
Disclaimer: Basic Man sent us all the products reviewed below completely free of charge for the purposes of this review.
There are a surprising amount of men’s underwear and “essentials” companies these days. Each one has their own unique spin on the proposition, though, surely, they can’t all stick around for the long haul. Some will make it, while others will die out. When Basic Man reached out asking if we would like to take a look at their products, I was, naturally, skeptical of yet another “men’s basics” company coming on to the scene. (Indeed, as you’ll see by the end of this, I remain skeptical.) But they do have a unique spin on things.
Their basic concept is that men’s essentials have expiration dates. You shouldn’t be wearing an undershirt, socks, and certainly underwear for more than a year or so before throwing them out and replacing them with new ones. And this really is true. You should be replacing all garment you wear directly against your body about once a year. Just think about all the sweat and grime they will pick up, not to mention odor. Basic Man products include a “destroy by” date which tells you when you should get rid of your undergarments and replace them with new ones (my tee had a date of Dec. 2020, for instance). You can subscribe to Basic Man for $20 a month (or a bit less if you prepay in advance), and get a new shipment every month of one tee/undershirt, one pair of underwear, and one pair of socks. That is the premise here with Basic Man. Interesting, certainly. But how is the actual service in practice, and how are the products?
Ordering & Experience
From what I can tell, if someone wants to get more than one item of each, right now, there is no way to do that. Not to mention if you only want to get, say, the socks or underwear, but not the tees. Overall, though, the idea of getting new basics once a month, and, eventually, throwing out your old ones — all following a printed on expiration date so there will be no confusion as to how long you have each item for — is quite clever and could prove to be quite useful. Is it absolutely necessary? No, I don’t think so. I think most people have a pretty good idea of how long they have their undergarments for. But this system is certainly helpful, and, like many startups these days, why not solve this minor problem in a sure-fire way?
The website and service is super, super young, and you can tell. There are a few typos on the site, and their copy is less than stellar. Indeed, the whole of the website is very much a minimum viable product. It works, and it passes for a decent site, but upon close inspection, it’s noticeably in need of some serious refinement. Just as one example, it’s pretty difficult to figure out exactly what your $20 a month will be getting you, until you read through their entire FAQ page. Still, the basic ordering process is easy enough. You tell them your tee shirt size as well as your underwear size, and that’s it. You sign up, and a short while later, your tee, underwear, and socks arrive in the mail. (Note, also, that they offer only exchanges, not any returns.)
Now, as far as I can tell, while they do offer both no-show socks as well as regular dress socks, there is no way to specify which you prefer to receive. Similarly, they only offer boxer-briefs for their underwear. No trunks or briefs, if either are your thing. (Boxers… well, you shouldn’t be wearing boxers anyway and also calling yourself classy.) Nor can you pick your tee shirt color. So, again, not much in the way of choice here.
So, how are the actual products?
The Tee: This is my least favorite of the three items. The 60% cotton / 40% polyester blend feels nice and looks nice, but the fit is a bit odd. I got a medium and found that it cut quite tightly across my chest and armpits, but was loose and long everywhere else. So, their tee just does not fit me comfortably. And, this poses a problem, as if I stayed with the service, I would be getting a tee that does not fit every 3 months, and essentially wasting a third of the package. As you’ll see, I would much rather the other products in the package. (There is also a logo/tag on the bottom hem of the shirt. Some will like this, others will hate it. I am indifferent.)
The Underwear: I have tried a lot of underwear in my day, from just about every new brand out there now. This pair can go up against the best of them. Very similar to MeUndies in fabric makeup and feel. The modal is smooth, soft, stretchy, and very comfortable. It’s true to size, and the Medium fit my 30” waist close to perfect, and will be even more perfect after it shrinks just a bit in the wash and dryer, as underwear is prone to do.
The Socks: I really, really like these socks. They are thick and super soft. Like, thicker and softer than most any pair of socks I have ever owned. They might be a bit too much for wear during the summer months, but these are really luxurious-feeling, and I like them a lot. Again, they have a logo stitched towards the top of the sock which some won’t like, but you’ll almost never be able to see that while wearing pants, so I don’t much mind that at all. If you prefer thinner, lighter socks, these might not be for you. But I think rich, thick, super soft and plush socks like these deserve a place in every man’s wardrobe.
Value & Conclusion
Basic Man — $20 per month: Like I said at the beginning, if you’re in the market for some new underwear, tees, and socks, there is a lot of competition these days. Basic Man is certainly a unique and clever spin on the whole thing, and allows for an easy subscription and management of your new and old undergarments. Still, it’s hard to say if the company will make it in the long run. Not that it really matters so seriously as to whether you should subscribe, but, from a business perspective, it is certainly interesting to consider. In the end, though, there is no doubt that they’re shipping quality products. The underwear and socks are really great, and the tee is well made, though could use some refinement in the fit. When you consider that the price per unit is about $6.60, these become an excellent value as compared to some of the much, much higher prices of MeUndies or Mack Weldon (where each item can cost more than $25). The underwear is just about on par with MeUndies (though does lack some of the more technical elements that many Mack Weldon pairs possess), but is significantly cheaper. If you ask us, and you are in the market for some new essentials, it’s worth taking a shot here. There’s a good chance you’ll like the products even if you don’t feel the need to stay subscribed in the long run.