A friend who works at Hanes told me a while back that the male underwear category was one of the only ones in the apparel business that was growing (the theory being that women during a recession were more willing to shop for their husbands and kids but not on themselves). And sure enough, new data from NPD, which studies market trends, supports what she had to say.
According to the group's apparel market data for the first half of the year, sales of men's underwear grew 4 percent to $2 billion from the same period last year. The only other apparel category that saw sales growth was fleecewear, which hit $2 billion in sales.
Overall, total apparel sales were down 7 percent for the first half of the year to $84.8 billion. The biggest hit came in tailored clothing, which saw an 11.4 percent drop from the same period last year. Swimwear was down 9 percent to $2.8 billion and tops and bottoms were both down about 8 percent.