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Fly or No Fly? The Most Divisive Argument in Men’s Fashion

Photo by Jeremy Glass

Boxers, briefs, or barbarianism? For years, underwear has played the role of nothing more than a means to protect oneself against the scratchy seam of pant legs and the biting metal grip of zippers. Now, a new argument has framed a simple issue of preference into a divisive plot against basic comfort and bathroom habits. This is the case of fly vs. no-fly: The argument of whether or not men actuallyneed a fly on their underwear. 

Vintage Jockey Underwear Ad

The underwear as we know it is a modern innovation — a take on the "Mascul-line" jockeys of the 1930s mashed with the unspoken understanding of human biology and urinal etiquette. Men are creatures of convenience and have felt for years that they need a well-placed hole or flap for them to use while urinating standing up. At least, that was the shared opinion until recently... 

“At the very core of it, the fly is somewhat of an antiquated concept,” says Ricky Choi in an article inComplex entitledA World Without D*ck Holes: The Underwear Industry's Confusing New Design Direction.“If you think about going to the bathroom, you have to undo everything and then re-do everything. Given you’re wearing all of that, it’s probably easier to go through the gate, so to speak, rather than over the fence.” 

It’s more than the “through the gate” or “over the fence” article dividing people on this once thought to be an innocuous issue. The fly vs. no-fly argument has long since found its way into fashion and retail, giving purveyors of underwear companies likeMeUndies a deep understanding of how men prefer to navigate their undies. 

“It's a really polarizing thing, whether or not you use the fly or not,” says Direct of Marketing at MeUndies, Greg Fass, “People really didn't want to buy from us at first because we didn't have a fly. We just did a focus group and had a group of men into the office and asked them about underwear preferences in general -- on the fly, specifically. And here's something really interesting. A few of the men that we spoke to… they only like the fly because it reminds them of what underwear should work like. But when we asked them if they actually use the fly, they don't.” 

Now, a quick glance of their site finds a tab for underwearwith the fly and a tab for one sans fly. This gung-ho attitude towards the fly juxtaposed with the actual dailyusage is a bizarre ratio that many men have found themselves in the middle of while put on the spot. 

“I’m pro-fly for air circulation,” saysThrillist writer and fly loyalist Alex Robinson, “but I definitely don’t use it ever.” Alex is one of the many fly enthusiasts who see the fly as a necessity… but a necessity they do not use. “I don’t piss out of it, because I’m not a barbarian,” continues Robinson, “I’ve snaked it before, but I don’t use it regularly... maybe while camping.”

The fire of disconnect has raged all over the internet, sprouting up in hotspots like -- where else -- Reddit. In a thread from 2017 entitledGuys of Reddit: Why do some men's underwear not have a fly? What do you do with no fly? Which is better?the discord continues

“Nobody uses the fly anyway. Just pull it down a pee.”

“I prefer boxers and boxer briefs with a functional fly. Unzip, pull it out, piss, tuck the weasel back in, zip, done. Otherwise, you have to unbuckle, unsnap, unzip... it's just not as efficient.”

“Never used a fly, seems super time consuming.”

“Just don’t wear underwear”

Now, we bring this question to you: the fine readers of Grooming Lounge. What do you think of the fly? Is it an underwear necessity or antiquated feature of the past? Check out our official poll on Instagram [LINK TO IG POST] and make your voice heard.

This article was written and appeared on Grooming Lounge and our Founder, Mike Gilman, were quoted a lot, so we borrowed the article. Giving them credit -- hope it's OK.

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