While my tastes in underwear are typically outweighed by my desire to maintain a tight budget, every now and again I'm tempted to splurge. It was one such temptation to splurge that led me to buying the most expensive pair of underwear that I own: Atelier Traditionnel Classic Black Briefs.
Clocking in at $60 per pair, these are three times more expensive than what I would typically consider being my nicer underwear and they are ten times more expensive than the underwear that I wear on a regular basis/ have on right now. And the Classic Black Briefs that I own are one of their cheaper styles. Their Tuxedo and Classic lines, for example, have boxer briefs that come with an $89 price tag.
With prices that are extensively higher than the average for underwear (but on par for the luxury fashion market), how does Atelier Traditionnel measure up against cheaper alternatives? Let's find out.
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Upfront, I should say that I used to work for Atelier Traditionnel as an independent contractor, and I've written quite a few of the articles that they've published on their website. However, I am no longer affiliated with them or on their payroll, and they are not sponsoring or endorsing this post. All opinions are my own.
Atelier Traditionnel prides itself on maintaining a sleek, minimalist design. Designed in France and handcrafted in the United States, regardless of which line you're shopping, their underwear maintains clean lines and never uses more than two colors (one for the waistband and one for the rest) per pair of underwear.
Styling their underwear this way definitely gives them a strong sense of refinement. Often when we think about designer underwear, brands like MarcoMarco or Versace stick out for their vibrant colors and patterns, but you won't find that with Atelier Traditionnel. Their lack of color or pattern doesn't make them boring, however. Instead, I'd say that there's an understated confidence in them. They aren't pretentious or flashy, but still create a very striking silhouette. In fact, compared to flashier brands, I'd argue that AT underwear does a better job of accentuating and drawing attention to your body since it's not making itself the focal point.
Their execution of minimalist design underscores the fact that simplicity can still be quite striking, and their reserved color palette makes them feel appropriate for a variety of situations. With the Classic Black Briefs that I own, for example, I feel comfortable and professional wearing them under my suit for job interviews but also feel confident and sexy if I wear them under jeans for a date. I wouldn't feel the same way in something brightly colored or with one of those awful junk pouches (I have very strong feelings about pouch underwear since I've yet to encounter a brand that does it well).
To me, comparing the style of Atelier Traditionnel with something like Andrew Christian would be like comparing the wealth of Bill Gates to Donald Trump. Bill Gates is confident in his wealth and knows that he doesn't need to flaunt it; Trump is desperate for everyone to know he's wealthy, so he tries to flaunt it and ends up acting like a 90s parody of the wealthy. While they're both rich, one is rich enough that he doesn't have to try hard to prove that he's rich. Atelier Traditionnel is simply stylish– it doesn't have to scream at you or demand that you take note of its style because you're going to notice it regardless.
All Atelier Traditionnel underwear is made from a blend of 97% MicroModal with 3% elastane.
As I've mentioned before, MicroModal is an amazing fabric. In my review of Coconut Supply Co, I described it by saying,
It's silky and cool to the touch, and you're not likely to find a more supple material to cradle your best bits. The pinch of elastane that's included helps the underwear contour to your body and retain their shape, even after being washed many times.
While AT makes their underwear from the same type of fabric as Coconut Supply Co (97% MicroModal with 3% elastane), they still feel quite different. Atelier Traditionnel uses a heavier weight fabric than what I've found in any other brand, so it has more of a plush feel. Despite being a heavier weight, they're not too hot or too stuffy. That's one of the beauties of MicroModal fabric. In fact, the first time I wore my Atelier Traditionnel briefs, I questioned whether or not they might have been slightly damp because they were so cool and silky to the touch that I had never felt a fabric quite like that before– especially down there.
Prior to washing my Classic Black Briefs, there was a bit of lint than transferred to my skin which led to a few moments of thinking, "oh no what is that black lump on my... never mind, it's just lint." So, if you purchase a pair, I would definitely recommend washing them first.
Speaking of washing them, since they are a luxury brand and use high-quality fabric, be sure to wash them on a delicate cycle and preferably within a garment bag; always hang them or lay them flat to dry. While luxury underwear will hold up better than bargain brands regardless of how you wash them, if you're going to spend that much money on a pair of undies, you'll get the most out of them by taking extra care with them.
The price is really the main drawback to Atelier Traditionnel underwear. They are pricey. If you buy luxury clothes on a regular basis, the price tag won't come as a shock, but if you're like me and sometimes scoff at Goodwill prices on clothes... you may have a minor heart attack while shopping their boutique.
And yet– and I almost can't believe that I'm saying this– I think the price is justified in this case. I totally recognize that there may be some bias here since I've written for them so much in the past, but having an understanding of their sourcing and crafting processes, Atelier Traditionnel feels like you're really paying for quality rather than label recognition.
Throughout my career as a freelancer in the fashion industry, one recurring topic is that buying higher-end clothes should be thought of as an investment, as you'll ultimately get more value out of a high-quality garment than lower-quality ones. Despite my initial suspicions that this rhetoric was only to sell underwear, research has shown that there is actually a lot of truth to it.
One of the biggest dangers to the environment and to human well-being is the fast fashion industry. Fast fashion refers to the rapid production of low-cost clothing meant to be sold for a high profit margin, and its production exploits slave labor and environmental resources at an alarming rate. Brands like Atelier Traditionnel that are making an effort to use responsibly sourced materials and pay artisans fair wages to produce their products aren't going to be making the same profit margin as a fast fashion brand and are naturally going to cost more, but for the humanistic and environmental impact alone, I think it's worth it.
I'm not saying that everybody should be willing or able to pay $60 for a pair of underwear, but if you are in a position where you're able to do so, it's a responsible investment.
For the first time ever on BlakeWrites, I give this brand 5 undies out of 5.
Atelier Traditionnel's main drawbacks are definitely the price and the fact that they cater to a predominately white, upper-class audience, so while there is a lot of improvement that could be made on the inclusivity front, the pros far outweigh the cons. To put it plainly, these are incredibly comfortable and stylish undies that I enjoy wearing, and I would wear them daily if I could. I'd love to see more brands make similar efforts to be environmentally sustainable and to only rely on fair trade labor, and to bring more brands and styles into the market that could perhaps offer a similar product at a lower price, but until that becomes more commonplace, AT is undoubtedly the king in that arena.
This article does NOT contain affiliate links. I just really like this product and wanted to share it with you.
-BlakeWrites Owner, Blake Reichenbach