Several months ago I was contacted by Donn Mason, asking us to review some of their underwear, and since I had received several pairs of underwear from a different brand as well, I was curious to learn as to how the “classic luxury” Donn Mason underwear would perform in comparison. Shortly after that, I received a couple of pairs of underwear in the mail. The company has been in business since 2003 and lately they have been increasing their marketing efforts.
Unlike other boxer briefs I have bought in the past, Donn Mason´s arrived in a branded cardboard box with a big crest that read “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” We all know this phrase and while it is a legitimate statement, I never quite understood what it had to do with their underwear. Was it because Donn Mason is not just your regular pair of underwear or that the box resembled a book? If so, the slogan would be appropriate for anything ranging from prosciutto to ties that come in a book box.
That aside, I received a white pair of trunks and a black pair of boxer shorts. Personally, I am not a great fan of boxer shorts and prefer to wear boxer briefs, which is just personal preference, and so Donn Mason generously sent me another pair of boxer brief underwear. Right out of the box, I was enamored with the soft touch of the fabric. None of my other cotton, spandex, modal, etc. pairs of underwear were so soft, and so I very much looked forward to testing them.
Material, Workmanship & Cut
On the Donn Mason website, the trunks and briefs fall in the category “Knits” in reference to the material. The advantage of knits is generally its greater flexibility but at the same time, they are more prone to pulling threads. The composition of the knit is 46% Modal, 46% cotton and 8% Spandex for elasticity. As I mentioned before, the feel was very pleasant and luxuriously soft. Plain cotton underwear can be crisp sometimes, but it is great in absorbing moisture while all polyester / artificial fiber underwear is smooth but can be uncomfortable because it does not absorb moisture. Considering this, it seemed like a very good idea to combine the two materials to create the best of both worlds. The workmanship looked just fine, seams were straight, the soft edges on the inside were sewn with an overlock stitching machine and not scratchy at all. The waistband was flexible and snug without being too tight. All Donn Mason underwear is made in the US, but as I pointed out in the past – there is a great variety of what made in the US means. My wife positively remarked on the cut of the trunks and so overall, I was very pleased with the underwear right out of the box.
Now, if I had written a review right then, I would have wholeheartedly recommended them even though the price tag of $32 is certainly more upscale. However, at the Gentleman’s Gazette, we pride ourselves on the depth of our reviews, which means that we test our products rigorously rather than just writing unbridled praise about whatever product we receive. In the case of Donn Mason underwear that meant that these pairs became part of my underwear rotation and so they underwent the same washing machine, laundry detergent, and dryer routine as all the other boxer briefs and trunks in my collection. Interestingly, the caring instructions on the label ask to machine wash only on cold, without bleach and to tumble them dry. Personally, I think underwear should be washed warm or hot for sanitary reasons, but to be fair, most underwear on the market says machine wash cold because a garment will last longer and lose less color compared to when it is washed on warm or hot. As a base line, my other underwear has performed just fine being washed at warm despite the label machine wash cold care label.
About three months into the testing process, I noticed some pilling of the fabric, especially in the around the thighs and in the crotch area. These areas experience the largest amount of friction, and so it was just logical to see pilling issues in this area first, however, I was a bit disappointed to see pilling so early in the process, especially since I have underwear that was much older and showed virtually no pilling. The reason for the issue is the modal fabric. It is extremely soft, resilient, fade-resistant and as I already pointed out, one of the most comfortable underwear materials besides silk or cashmere. When I contacted Donn Mason about the pilling issue, they fully admitted, that Modal is prone to pilling but as a company they decided advantage of the soft touch was worth the pilling. Considering that underwear is very private, I can totally see their point. Nevertheless, it is something that will continue to deteriorate over time, so it is only fair to mention that you have to expect pilling from underwear that contains Modal. That means I would not recommend this underwear for more public use, such as at the gym.
Six months into the test I noticed a large hole in one of my white Donn Mason trunks. The hole was 5.5″ (14cm) long and rendered the underwear basically unwearable. I contacted Donn Mason about it and sent them pictures. According to them, they only had one other quality complaint in years. Maybe I just had bad luck, maybe I am harder on my underwear than others, or maybe it’s just like with the biting dog that “has never done that before”. Considering, I never really experienced it, and I take their word it was probably just bad luck. Nevertheless, it must be mentioned in this review because a whole after six months in a $32 piece of underwear is simply unacceptable. Now, mistakes happen, and it matters more about how the company reacts to it. In my case, Donn Mason apologized and offered to have it sent back to them on their dime so they could investigate it further. Now that’s good customer service, and I am sure they would provide me with a new one.
Just as I was about to send them the trunks with the big hole in it, I noticed a loose thread in my black pair of Donn Mason trunks. I don’t know what caused it, but it is certainly not good if that happens after just a little over six months. Now, of course, that could be another incidence of bad luck, it seems like quite a coincidence that I am only one of two people in years that experiences quality issues and then it is not just one incident but two. Again, I am sure they take it back and send me a new pair, so the customer service is excellent, and they stand by their product, but there still seem to be some quality issues, at least that’s what I experienced with Donn Mason. I will send them both pairs and see what they have to say.
The Donn Mason knit underwear is extremely soft, made in the USA and features a flattering cut. Due to the soft modal material used, they are very comfortable but at the same time, you will experience pilling after just a few months that will deteriorate over time. The big hole and loose thread I experienced could have been some lemons though I can only report on what I experienced and it seems to me as if there are some quality issues. The Donn Mason customer service is very responsive and willing to send out replacement underwear, however at $32 I expect a good pair of underwear not just replacements after six months, because it requires work on the customers end to send the pieces back and as we all know time is money – for some it may not even be worth the hassle to spend 30 mins to pack it and send it back via UPS because they could earn more in the meantime.
For a selection of better underwear, please check out our Men’s Underwear Guide.
What are your experiences with underwear in terms of quality, softness, and durability? What is your favorite underwear brand?