Ethika positions itself "a leading lifestyle brand" rather than just an underwear company.
Scrolling through their Instagram account for a few seconds will show you what they mean. Just as often as they show pictures of their undies and other products, they're showcasing athletes, championships, skaters, bands, punks, performers, music, and even the occasional pug. Rather than featuring chiseled underwear models with seductive gazes, their Instagram looks more like the cool kids and rebels hang out after school.
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To be honest, at first it left me a bit incredulous about their underwear. They didn't seem to be emphasizing the comfort and quality of their products, and I got the impression that the core of their marketing campaign was "look, we're edgy and we hire edgy artists to make the designs for our underwear." It had bro culture vibes, similar to what you might imagine it being like in a Silicone Valley tech startup with a work culture rooted in thinly veiled misogyny.
Okay. Go ahead and remind me to not judge a book by its cover.
The more I've followed along with Ethika, the more impressed I've been with both their culture and their products. What I once interpreted as overly bro-focused I now understand as being more along the lines of "no fucks to give."
Ethika has been making a splash in the underwear industry, and for good reason. Their underwear is amazing, they feature diverse bodies in their advertising, and they're not trying to sell their underwear on raw sexual energy– instead, they're making waves by focusing on the people who are also making waves within their communities, no matter how big or small those communities may be, and who just happen to be wearing their underwear.
I'll start by discussing Ethika's style since, in my opinion, that's their biggest weakness.
Don't get me wrong: Ethika underwear can look great. They have an abundance of designs and a decent variety of styles, so regardless of your preferences or body shape, there's a good chance you can find something that suits you well.
My biggest complaints in terms of style is that they don't carry any brief cuts. Their trunks– which they refer to as "The Mid"– are decently short, and I'll give them credit for that, but I'm a brief's guy through and through. I've got long legs, and briefs are the best cut to enhance them. Technically they do have one pair of briefs in their unisex tighty whitey design, but I'm not going to count that one since they (a) took one of the most boring styles of underwear and (b) made it unisex. I'm generally pro-gender inclusivity in clothing, but my main issue with unisex underwear is that it tends to be ill-fitting for both men and women.
My gripes about their lack of briefs aside, their Mids, Boxers (which are more of a classic boxer brief), and the Staple (an even longer boxer brief) are pretty solid. Not only are there an abundance of options featuring graphic designs, but there are also quite a few that are either solid colored or two-color contrasts. Personally, I'm a fan of solid color for underwear since it has a more refined, mature look, but I've got to give it to Ethika that their graphic designs are incredibly well done. The quality of the art they feature goes back to their consistent employment of a variety of artists, which is something on which I have to applaud them; if you're particularly fond of any of their artists, you can also shop by collection to unearth everything that artist has created for them.
|Image courtesy of Ethika on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ethika/|
In addition to the print of the fabric, I also have to give Ethika some props for the silhouettes that they do have. Their lack of brief options is a detractor for me, but their trademark slim waistband that sits flat against the skin and their minimalist-yet-eye-catching stitching are both fantastic accents and give Ethika's underwear a clean, sporty look.
With all of this in mind, I give Ethika a 3.5 out of 5 for style.
Underwear Quality and Comfort
Let's shift from what I like least about Ethika's underwear to what I like most: their quality and comfort.
When I first opened my Ethika underwear and went to try them on, I was afraid it was going to be a flop. My initial response was that they were decently cute but they felt like athletic wear. At this stage in my life, I detest compression shorts in 85% of circumstances, and that's what they felt like as I started to slide them on over my thighs.
But once they were all the way on... ooh, boy. It was a whole new story.
The first pair that I bought was the Modal- Navy Gold Lurex. Once I got them on, they stretched out to their appropriate size and stopped feeling like compression shorts; they started feeling like the contouring, silky hug to the genitals that they are.
Though they are named as modal undies, their composition is actually 55% Cotton, 37% Modal, and 8% Spandex. Normally, I would be inclined to give this a detractor. Modal, and its luxury counterpart MicroModal, are fantastic fabrics to use in underwear, and typically they're blended with a little elastane to help them hold their shape. Being a cheaper fabric, cotton is not what I would normally want paired with my modal.
But, for Ethika, it works pretty well. The result is a silky underwear that holds its shape well and doesn't get blousy or bunched up throughout the day. From the time you put them on to the time you take them off, they're going to remain flush with your skin and aren't going to be a problem under your pants, whether your in gym shorts or a three-piece suit (I've worn mine under both).
The cotton in the fabric blend does mean that Ethika's modal underwear is not as soft as other modal brands. Coconut Supply and Atelier Traditionnel, for example, will feel cool and airy, sometimes to the point of almost having a damp sensation to them (it's more pleasant than it sounds), throughout the entire day. Ethika isn't nearly as soft and luxurious feeling, but it's definitely not sacrificing in comfort. For example, while Coconut Supply may feel better when you first put them on, they do lose their shape slightly by the end of the day and are more prone to bunching. Ethika won't be quite the silken kiss to the taint that Coconut Supply is, but they're going to do their job for a solid 24 hours and then some.
With all of that being said, I give Ethika a 4 out of 5 for quality and a 4.5 out of 5 for comfort.
When it comes to price, Ethika is kind of middle-of-the-road. They're not as expensive as a luxury brand like Atelier Traditionnel, but they're also expensive enough that you're not going to want to buy more than a pair or two at a time unless you're really in to splurging on underwear.
For example, the modal trunks that I bought retail for $26. Luckily, I bought them during a promotional sale, so I only paid $18 for them, but when I went to buy more to add to my collection (a sign of how I feel about their quality), I was disappointed to see how much it would cost to add multiple pairs to my underwear drawer.
So, if you find Ethika on sale or go to their website during a promotional period, don't be afraid to stock up and get several pairs. You'll be glad you did, especially once they go back up to normal price.
Because of this, I give Ethika a 3 out of 5 for price.
If you've been doing the math along the way, you've probably already calculated what Ethika's overall score is. If you're like me and don't do mental math unless you have to, don't worry. I'll do the math for you.
When taking each category into consideration, Ethika gets a score of 3.75 out of 5.