From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
HeadquartersUnited States
OwnerFruit of the Loom

BVD is a brand of men's underwear, which are commonly referred to as "BVDs". The brand was founded in 1876 and named after the three founders of the New York City firm: (Joseph W.) Bradley, (Luther C.) Voorhees, and (Lyman H.) Day (thus "B.V.D.").[1][2] The BVD brand, originally produced for men and women, in the United States is now produced solely for men by Fruit of the Loom. The BVD brand is also sold in Japan.[3][4]


BVD advertisement from 1915

BVD first manufactured bustles for women. They then became famous for their men's union suits made of heavy knitted fabric. In 1908, that bulky and tight-fitting garment was turned into a new kind of loose-fitting underwear. They went on to introduce a two-piece and the popular union suit,[5][2] as well as a lightweight waffle-like fabric with the advertising slogan, "Next to Myself I Like BVD Best".[1]

At the beginning of the 1930s, BVD was purchased by the Atlas Underwear company of Piqua, Ohio. During the Great Depression, they were successful in manufacturing swimsuits for men, women and children. They patented their own fabric, Sea Satin, a rayon woven satin backed with latex for stretch.[6][7] They also used knits of cotton, wool and Rayon, and cellophane. Their swimsuits featured in major fashion magazines and high-fashion stores. Styles included form-fitting maillots as well as full-skirted swimsuits. They offered suits for men with detachable tops. In 1929, Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller, who went on to become the most famous Tarzan in motion pictures, was hired as a model and representative. He was featured at swim shows throughout the country wearing the BVD brand of swimsuits, handing out leaflets and giving autographs.[8][9]

In 1951, the brand was purchased by Superior Mills. BVD was first to start packaging underwear in plastic bags for the mass market. In the 1960s and 1970s, they started introducing sportops, a pocket T-shirt, and fashionable underwear made of nylon.[citation needed] In 1976, BVD was purchased by Fruit of the Loom. The company filed for bankruptcy in 1999, and was purchased by Berkshire Hathaway in 2001.[10]

In other languages[edit]

In certain dialects[which?] of Spanish, the term bibidí, pronounced like the English initials, is an eponym for a man's sleeveless underwear T-shirt.[11][12]

In popular culture[edit]

  • The 1923 jazz song “Hula Lou” by Jack Yellen, Milton Charles and Wayne King features the lyric: “I'm Hula Lou. I'm the gal that can't be true. I do my nestin' in the evenin' breeze 'Neath the trees You oughta see me shake my BVDs.” [13]
  • In the 1960s and 70s, in the area around Woonsocket, Rhode Island, (which was part of the Blackstone Valley), BVDs were sometimes affectionately called "Blackstone Valley Duds."
  • In the 1963 Disney film The Sword in the Stone, the wizard Merlin can be seen wearing a pair of pink BVD underwear beneath his robe (around 15:42 run-time).
  • In the 1969 novelty song Gitarzan by artist Ray Stevens references the "Gitarzan" character as "As he swings through trees without a trapeeze, in his BVD's ..."[14]
  • In Tom Lehrer's western parody song "The Wild West is Where I Want to Be," Lehrer sings "I'll wear a pair o' Levis over my lead B.V.D.'s" jokingly using BVDs as radiation protection in the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
  • In the 1926 song "Coney Island Washboard" (Lyrics added at an unknown time, at least prior to 1978)[15] one of the lyrics reads "She could rag a tune right through the knees of a brand new pair of B.V.D.'s on her Coney Island washboard roundelay."[16]
  • "And as sure as Santa Claus wears red BVDs, I know somebody will have an alibi you can't break with a sledgehammer." - Columbo (1990) s09e04 "Rest in Peace, Mrs. Columbo", timestamp: 46:54 -


  1. ^ a b "Fruit of the Loom - BVD". Retrieved 2008-07-28.
  2. ^ a b Sterlacci, Francesca; Arbuckle, Joanne (2009-09-28). The A to Z of the Fashion Industry. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-8108-6883-0.
  3. ^ Home. BVD Japan. Retrieved on March 12, 2019.
  4. ^ Ramseyer, Mitsubishi Professor of Japanese Legal Studies J. Mark (2002). Distribution in Japan. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-924890-2.
  5. ^ "There's "An Ocean of Comfort" In B.V.D." The Independent. Jul 13, 1914. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
  6. ^ Office, United States Patent (1935). Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office. U.S. Patent Office.
  7. ^ Snodgrass, Mary Ellen (2015-03-17). World Clothing and Fashion: An Encyclopedia of History, Culture, and Social Influence. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-317-45167-9.
  8. ^ Conrad, Tracy. "History: Weissmuller, who played Tarzan, famously enjoyed the desert". The Desert Sun. Retrieved 2022-01-27.
  9. ^ MonkEL (2012-08-09). "Johnny Weissmuller: The Ape Man and "King of Swimmers"". Retrieved 2022-01-27.
  10. ^ "Acquisition of Fruit of the Loom Apparel Business Completed". Archived from the original on 29 June 2008. Retrieved 28 July 2008.
  11. ^ Sabio, Fernando (2006). Hererun wagüchagu: dimurei-agei garifuna. Asociación Misionera Garifuna de Honduras.
  12. ^ Murrieta, Pedro Manuel Benvenutto (1936). El lenguaje peruano ... (in Spanish). Talleres de Sanmartí y cía., s.a.
  13. ^ "Hula Lou Lyrics". Lyrics Playground. Retrieved 17 August 2023.
  14. ^ "Ray Stevens - Gitarzan Lyrics". Genius. ML Genius Holdings. Retrieved 30 June 2023.
  15. ^ "Coney Island Washboard by Benkó Dixieland Band - George Probert". SecondHandSongs. Retrieved 13 August 2023.
  16. ^ "Mills Brothers - Coney Island Washboard Lyrics". SongLyrics. SongLyrics. Retrieved 13 August 2023.

External links[edit]