Take a Walk on the Underside at TRIM Pittsburgh
Listen up, fellas. If you’re wearing underwear right now, you’ll want to read this. And if you’re not? Even better. TRIM Pittsburgh has converted plenty of skivvy-less lads in its day.
Housing 35 brands of men’s underwear from national and international designers, the East Liberty shop is the first and only of its kind in Western Pennsylvania. For owner and founder Thomas West, the void in this niche market offered an opportunity to strike. And strike he did.
“Every guy, for the most part, shouldn’t go without underwear,” says West. “You need underwear. When I first opened up, I only had nine brands of underwear. And growing [the business] was the whole point. But opening up, I didn’t know how it was gonna go. Now, two years later, it’s cool.”
Since its debut in April 2014, TRIM has matured into what we’d call a well-rounded men’s lifestyle boutique. Starring a rotating selection of designer undies, swimwear, socks, grooming supplies, and T-shirts, the spot remains one of the neighborhood’s most frequented.
Inventory aside, TRIM’s appeal is obvious: we, as a species, inherently gravitate towards underthings. Without getting too scientific here, it’s the reason we haven’t stopped thinking about Kate Moss and Marky Mark’s Calvins since 1992. And it’s definitely got something to do with the flock of bachelorette partiers that flooded West’s flagship on the very first day it opened.
“Some people come in here and are like, ‘wow.’ They never knew this much [underwear] existed for guys,” he says. The Lifespace crew certainly didn’t. Between myself and our photographer, Tara, the first 10 minutes of our visit included phrases like, “I’ve never seen anything like this before,” “Can I buy a pair of these for myself?” and “That is a massive package holder.” We promise we’re typically more self-aware than this.
Luckily, West doesn’t bat an eye. “I’m just like, it’s underwear,” he says. “You can come in here, ask me any questions … and I’ve heard many questions. Some customers are really shy; some aren’t. It’s all good.”
A former television news producer, West is no stranger to community engagement. On opening TRIM in East Liberty — a feisty little neighborhood in the midst of major redevelopment — the native Pittsburgher says it was the buzz around town that sealed the deal. “It’s an up-and-coming neighborhood,” he explains. “Everyone was talking about it. Everyone still is talking about it. I like to be part of something that’s happening.
“East Liberty is a mixture of a whole bunch of things. And it hasn’t found its character yet, if that makes sense, because there’s so much happening here. And that’s fine — maybe this is its character. An eclectic mix.”
Eclectic as it may be, East Liberty’s residents all have at least one thing in common. West built an entire business around it, after all. Ever hear that love’s the universal language? We’re starting to think it’s underwear.
TRIM Pittsburgh / 5968 Baum Blvd., East Liberty / 412.512.9251
→ We could have written you a novel with all of the information West shared on men’s underwear. Instead, we’ve gone ahead and condensed the highlights for you, because we’re crafty like that. Consider this your all-star guide to all-star men’s underwear, swimwear, and other bodily goodies. You’re in for a treat, gents.
WEAR: Supawear (Australia)
WHEN: You want Captain America’s confidence and Spiderman’s flexibility.
“They’re just supa,” says West. That’s the look they’re going for … they remind me of super heroes. They’re just fun underwear.”
WEAR: TEAMM8 (Australia) and Garçon Model (Montreal)
WHEN: You’re #winning.
These well-made brands exude style without sacrificing comfort, from underwear and swimwear to athletic gear.
WEAR: PUMP! (Montreal)
WHEN: Your athletic wardrobe could use a little more mesh — and a lot more support.
USE: Beard and shave soap and beard oil from Hudson Made (Andes, N.Y.)
WHEN: Your face’s most prominent accessory could use an artisanal upgrade.
WEAR: Bread & Boxers (Sweden)
WHEN: Logos aren’t your thing, but classic boxers and T-shirts are. Made for the no-fuss guy on a mission.
USE: Bath wash, lotion, and bath bars from Das Boom (Los Angeles) ↓
WHEN: The occasion calls for rough-and-tumble aromas like cedar, bay rum, and motor oil.
West is the one of the first people in Pittsburgh to carry the brand’s masculine lines.
WEAR: NAKED (New York) ↓
WHEN: It’s business time.
“A lot of guys who wear suits wear Naked,” says West. “You’re not supposed to feel it. If you wear tighter jeans or suits, this is a good brand for you.”
WEAR: SAXX (Vancouver) ↑
WHEN: Running, hiking, or adventuring of any kind is part of your daily regimen.
“SAXX has quickly become a top-seller,” says West. “It gives guys extra support and helps prevent chafing. So, if you run a lot … yeah. A lot of guys like that.”
WEAR: Marcuse (Australian) ↓
WHEN: The only thing tighter than your beach crew is your beach bod.
“Australians love their underwear and their swimwear,” West adds.
LIGHT: Candles from 1820 House (East Palestine, Ohio)
WEAR: The PGH hat from Steel City Cotton Works (Pittsburgh)
WHEN: Decking out the man cave and shopping local are musts.
1820 House candles — featuring scents such as tobacco and leather — are hand-poured just across the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. Meanwhile, the ‘Burgh is feelin’ the love from local company Steel City Cotton Works.
WEAR: West’s first-ever T-shirt design, created in celebration of TRIM’s second anniversary
WHEN: Knowing how to say “underwear” in just one language isn’t enough.