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Type Subsidiary
Industry underwear
Founded 1876
Headquarters United States
Products underwear
Owner(s) Berkshire Hathaway

BVD is a brand of men's underwear, which are commonly referred to as "BVDs." BVD stands for Bradley, Voorhees & Day, the New York City firm that initially manufactured underwear of this name for both men and women. BVD is now only for men. It was founded in 1876 and named after its three founders.[1]


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,[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 located in 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. 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.[citation needed]

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, which brought the brand to a worldwide market.[citation needed] On April 9, 2002, Berkshire Hathaway purchased Fruit of the Loom.[3]

The term "BVDs" has become, over time, a genericized trademark in reference to any brand of underwear. (see "Popular Culture" below)[4]

In other languages[edit]

In Ecuadorian and Peruvian Spanish, the term bividí, pronounced like the English initials, is an eponym for a man's sleeveless underwear T-shirt.[citation needed]

In popular culture[edit]

  • 1920: BVDs are mentioned to have been worn in F. Scott Fitzgerald's first novel This Side of Paradise.
  • 1922: George F. Babbitt wears B.V.D. undershirts in Sinclair Lewis's novel, Babbitt.
  • 1922: An intertitle in the Buster Keaton silent film The Paleface mentions B.V.D's.
  • 1925: In the silent film The Big Parade, a group of Army soldiers sing a song while doing their laundry in a stream. Among the lines of the song displayed via intertitles, the soldiers sing: "We drown the fleas / In our Bee Vee Dees, / We're in the army now!"
  • 1931: In the Simon Templar book "She Was a Lady" by Leslie Charteris (re-printed in 1974 as "The Saint Meets His Match").
  • 1931: BVDs are mentioned in the Mills Brothers version of the Stanley Adams song "Coney Island Washboard" (originally published in 1926, and also recorded by Hoagie Carmichael in 1950, and in 1967 by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band).[5][6]
  • 1933: BVDs are mentioned in the film adaptation of 42nd Street
  • 1935: Sleepy John Estes sings of feeling the wind blowing through his BVDs in "Someday Baby Blues".
  • 1948 Barry Fitzgerald in the movie The Naked City "What where you looking for so hard just now Your BVDs?"
  • 1952: BVDs are mentioned by mathematician and satiric songwriter Tom Lehrer in his song about weapons testing in the western United States, "The Wild West Is Where I Want To Be": "And of course I'll wear a pair o' Levis over my lead BVD's."
  • 1955: BVDs are mentioned in some versions of the pop standard song "Hard Hearted Hannah (The Vamp of Savannah)", including the version sung by Ella Fitzgerald in the 1955 film Pete Kelly's Blues.[7]
  • 1959: BVDs are mentioned by Philip Roth in his short story, "Eli, the Fanatic", from the collection, "Goodbye, Columbus": "Special food, special language, special prayers, why not special BVD's?"
  • 1969: BVDs are mentioned by Ray Stevens in his song "Gitarzan": "He swings through the trees without a trapeze in his BVDs."
  • 1975: BVDs are mentioned by Andy Warhol in "The Philosophy of Andy Warhol": "After I check myself out in the mirror, I slip into my BVDs. Nudity is a threat to my existence."
  • 1982: Magnum, P.I. S3, Ep7: Flashback - "My dear fellow, it is not I, ranting about the lawn in my BVD's!"
  • 1990: BVD's are mentioned in the C+C Music Factory single Things That Make You Go Hmmm...: "...ain't no way he could be cheatin' on me, I wonder who bought him those BVD's..."
  • 1995: BVDs are mentioned by Tupac Amaru Shakur in the song "Old School": " I had, Shell Toes, and BVD's. A killer crease inside my Lee's when I hit the streets."
  • Many children are introduced to the word BVDs through the camp song, "Bye Bye BVDs".[8]


  1. ^ a b "Fruit of the Loom - BVD". Retrieved 2008-07-28. 
  2. ^ "There's "An Ocean of Comfort" In B.V.D.". The Independent. Jul 13, 1914. Retrieved August 21, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Acquisition of Fruit of the Loom Apparel Business Completed". Archived from the original on 29 June 2008. Retrieved -28-07-2008. 
  4. ^ "American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Ed.". 2007. Retrieved January 8, 2012. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "BVDs Camp Song". Retrieved -14-07-2009. 

External links[edit]