This image released by BIKE Athletic shows a collection of jockstraps in New York on March 6, 2024. Source: Andrew Werner Photography for BIKE Athletic via AP

Gird Your Loins! Jockstraps are Still Holding Up after 150 Years

Leanne Italie READ TIME: 5 MIN.

Happy 150th birthday, dear jockstrap. How far you've come from your modest but mighty days of protecting the precious parts of bicycle messengers as they navigated the bumpy cobblestones of Boston.

Invented for that purpose in 1874 by C.F. Bennett, who worked for a company now known as Bike Athletic, the strappy little staple of yore has become a sex symbol of sorts with a reach well beyond the athletic world.

Fashion designers have fancied them up for catwalks and store shelves. Kristen Stewart recently pulled on a Bike jockstrap for the cover of Rolling Stone, earning barbs from some conservatives. Some athletes, both recreational and professional, still reach for one. And the jockstrap owes a debt to the gay men who have embraced it since the 1950s, when a hyper-masculine aesthetic in gay fashion was in vogue.

"They're very coquettish. They reveal, they conceal. It's like a push-up bra," said 53-year-old Andrew Joseph.

While many athletes and others with a need to keep things safe and secure have traded out jockstraps for compression shorts and other teched-up alternatives, Joseph draws from his extensive collection to don one every day.

Sean McDougle, 55, a queer nudist-naturist in upstate New York, owns about 40 jockstraps.

"There's a certain feeling of freedom," he said. "I remember as a child the first time I wore one and thought, what is this thing? They give you this thing, you know? But the look and feel is just somehow really alluring."

This image released by BIKE Athletic shows jockstraps at a showroom in New York on March 6, 2024.
Source: Andrew Werner Photography for BIKE Athletic via AP


Jockstraps are all things to the people who love them. They're comfy little secrets under clothes. They're cheeky, two ways, with their butt-exposing leg straps and wide waistbands and pouches peeping out from shorts and trousers. And they're worn with or without leather gear at one of the world's numerous bars that host jockstrap nights.

To date, Bike Athletic has sold more than 350 million jockstraps worldwide. Tom Ford, Versace, Calvin Klein, Thom Browne, Emporio Armani, Tommy Hilfiger and Savage x Fenty have put out jockstraps.

Browne included them on the runway for his spring/summer 2023 menswear collection. So did the French label Egonlab. John Galliano showed fur coats and jocks in 2004. Four years later, Miuccia Prada had black, red and blue jockstraps peek out over waistbands of her menswear collection. Niche sellers are all over the internet and in queer boutiques.

"It's evolved almost into kind of male lingerie at this point," said Alex Angelchik, who bought Bike Athletic with other investors in 2019. "From the '70s through today, it became kind of a cult favorite within the gay community, and expanded to the metrosexual urban community."

Today, about 70% of Bike's customers are gay men, he said. The company's top seller is a jockstrap that's been around since the beginning, the No. 10. It's the one Stewart wore in the March issue of Rolling Stone. Kim Kardashian got there first, showing off a jockstrap in the September 2022, Americana-themed issue of Interview magazine.

Overall, Angelchik said he sells several million dollars worth of jockstraps a year, primarily in boutiques and Urban Outfitters stores.

by Leanne Italie

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