Hipsters vs Trunks: What’s the Difference?

There was quite a debate in the Pants & Socks HQ the other day. One of our newer members of the team had asked: What’s the difference between trunks and hipsters? 

You would have thought he was asking for an explanation of the double helix. There were diagrams being drawn, tape measures waved and packs of pants being opened as the discussion raged, until, eventually, our leader stepped in...

“When people ask me what the difference between trunks and hipsters is,” said the Pantsman, rather grandly. “I tell them this: today there is no difference between trunks and hipsters. To all intents and purposes, they are the same garment.”

And that was it. We can see his argument. Lie them side by side and the differences are negligible. Indeed you can find bigger differences between styles of trunk than you can between trunks and hipsters.

But we can also see how the debate started. Why should two almost identical items have different names? Perhaps because their origins are quite different.

But what are hipsters?

Hipsters, as the name implies, have a waistband that sits on, or rather just below, the hips and waist. At the front there is a pouch to keep all your bits in place and comfortable; to the rear is enough cloth to cover the buttocks, quite taught across the skin, adding some definition; and then there is a short leg, positioned towards the top of the thigh.

It is a progression on from the brief, which is cut higher up the thigh and can often provide less coverage behind.

So what are trunks?

Men's trunks, meanwhile, are an abbreviated form of the boxer brief. It started with a shorter leg - boxer briefs stretch a third of the way down your thigh, with trunks the leg stops towards the top of the thigh, which means it is less likely that there will be unsightly and uncomfortable bunching. From there, it was just the swish of a designer’s brush to bring the waistband down the hips and to add a more defined pouch.

Two almost identical products, with different names... But, of course, it is not quite as straightforward as that. 

Take a look at Pants & Socks and you will see a wide variety of trunks on the site (as well as a few pairs of hipsters) and more importantly, you will notice that there are subtle differences between each style. Some have higher waistbands, some have a longer leg and some, even, have fly holes or buttons... You can see why there was so much debate in the office.

And to return to our question - what’s the difference between men’s trunks and men’s hipsters? - then perhaps we should turn it round and ask you: what is it you are looking for? The names may be generic and almost interchangeable but what do you expect from your underwear? These are the key areas to consider:

What fabric is used for trunks and hipsters?

All are made from a stretch fabric - either cotton with elastane or modal with elastane. But even within that there are differences. 

Tommy Hilfiger uses organic cotton, as does Hugo Boss in its Signature trunks. Derek Rose uses a rather luxurious Pima cotton in its Jack hipster and modal in its Ethan Hipster. There are others that use modal or a similar man-made fibre. Take a look at Jockey and Hom.

The benefits of this microfibre are that it has a wicking property that moves moisture, which helps reduce chafing and the build-up of odours. Cotton, as a natural fibre, is also breathable, which means liquids and fluid are not trapped inside.

Watch out for:

Where should the waistband sit for trunks and hipsters?

The waistband is where the main difference between men’s hipsters and men’s trunks can occur. As the name implies, hipsters sit down the hips, which, incidentally, is a very flattering look if you have a particularly flat stomach. 

Trunks meanwhile can have a higher waistband, which sits on the hip. Often brands that do this will name the styles differently, introducing the phrase low-rise for a hipster-like style. Gant and CR7, amongst others, offer a low rise as standard.

Watch out for:

How long is the leg on hipsters and trunks?

As a general rule the leg of both hipsters and trunks sits at the top of the thighs. This is particularly beneficial if you have big thighs and struggle with the tight fit boxers - whether you have been working on them in the gym, or whether you were just born that way. 

Jockey’s Short Trunk is a good example of the short leg, as is the Saxx Undercover Trunk. Slightly longer in the leg are Ted Baker Cotton Trunk and the Calvin Klein trunk. 

Watch out for:

Do hipster and trunks have fly openings?

As a general rule no but, again (and you should be getting used to this), there are exceptions to the rule. The Boss Original has a button fly and the Saxx Undercover Trunk has an opening. It’s a practical solution which can only be decided personal taste.

Most trunks and hipsters have a pouch or at least an extra layer of fabric at the front of your crotch, providing great support. This is particularly good for the more well-endowed, the alternative being it flapping around like a rabbit in a rucksack.

Watch out for:

Hipsters vs trunks: What to choose

As the Pantsman points out, choosing the right men's underwear is a very personal matter - really it all boils down to fit and comfort underneath your jeans or trousers, though how good you look in them is also a factor!

But trunks and hipsters are great pants that bring the benefits of all worlds and it is the small differences in detail that make them the best choice for so many.