Boxers or briefs? TRIM gives the age-old query a style-forward spin
May 26, 2016
Listen up, gentlemen. 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-free 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, a void in the market offered an opportunity.
“Every guy, for the most part, shouldn’t go without underwear,” he says. “When I first opened up, I only had nine brands of underwear. And growing [the business] was the whole point. But … 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 lifestyle boutique. Starring a rotating selection of designer undies, swimwear, grooming supplies, T-shirts, and accessories, the spot remains one of the neighborhood’s most frequented.
Inventory aside, TRIM’s appeal is obvious: We, as a species, inherently gravitate toward underthings. Without getting too scientific here, that gravitation is the reason we haven’t stopped thinking about Kate Moss and Marky Mark since 1992.
It also definitely has something to do with the bachelorette party that flooded TRIM — ultimately purchasing an unforeseen amount of men’s underwear — 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,” West says. Lifespace photographer Tara Bennett and I certainly didn’t. Within 10 minutes of arriving at TRIM, we’ve said, out loud: “I’ve never seen anything like this before,” “Can I buy a pair of these for myself?” and “That is a massive package-holder.” I promise we’re typically more self-aware than this.
Luckily, West doesn’t bat an eye. “I’m just like, it’s underwear. 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, the native Pittsburgher is no stranger to community engagement. He says the citywide buzz surrounding East Liberty — a spirited neighborhood in the midst of major redevelopment — was a deciding factor in securing his flagship’s Baum Boulevard storefront. “Everyone was talking about it,” he says of the area. “Everyone still is talking about it. I like to be part of something that’s happening.”
Of course, one way to stand out is to modernize a traditionally unappealing routine — shopping for men’s underwear, say — in a neighborhood that runs against the grain.
“[East Liberty] hasn’t found its character yet, if that makes sense, because there’s so much happening here,” West says. “And that’s fine. Maybe this is its character. An eclectic mix.”
However you think of it, East Liberty is filled with residents, business owners, and visitors who — for the most part — have at least one thing in common. West built an entire business around it, after all. Ever hear that love is the universal language? We’re starting to think it’s underwear.
A brief rundown
To remedy that pun, we’ve condensed the highlights of our TRIM tour for you. Guys: Consider this your personal guide to all-star personal products.