Popular for showing off men’s great assets, jockstraps have long been a staple in the gay community even though they were originally designed in the early 20th century for bike messengers. In recent years, the undergarment has become even more prevalent, which you may have noticed if you’ve ever been to the Underwear Party in Cherry Grove on Fire Island — or visited Lady Gaga’s online store.
After noticing that jockstraps needed a 2021 refresh, L.A.-based designers Justin Gilbert (Jussy) and Bronze Avery co-founded Ruxwood, a new company offering a fresh take on the century-old undergarment.
“We started with the jockstrap because it was something that I needed in my own daily life,” Gilbert tells NewNowNext. “I felt like I wasn’t finding an option that I really wanted for myself. And then that sparked the entire realization that other people needed the solution as well — not just a jockstrap, but also a sexual awakening and being able to tap into things that actually allow us to access our sensuality.”
“She needed a wake-up,” he adds with a laugh.
Ruxwood launched with the Jock 01, a basic jockstrap that comes in four earth-toned colors: moon, sand, sienna, and umber — a far cry from the neon-colored ones offered by other underwear companies like Andrew Christian. “I wanted this to blend into your actual body,” Gilbert says. “When I get dressed, I think it’s really cool to have my underwear match my whole outfit. It’s kind of a whole bag. You get to live in the full cohesion of your outfit. So that was a way to do that, to extend it onto the body.” He describes the vision for the color scheme as a “a glaze of peace, of calmness, serenity.”
“Truly, we want it to be calming,” he adds. “The visual experience for this journey doesn’t have to be highly chaotic.”
Avery thinks “bright colors are really fun, but also there’s not a huge lane of these more neutral, natural tones.” The shades “looked great on everybody’s skin tone,” he adds, which was “super surprising and honestly, really great overall.” The overall colors and images for Ruxwood match Avery’s personal aesthetic. When he’s not designing jockstraps, Avery is a singer-songwriter. His work includes summery bops like “Boys” and “Only You.”
Asked why he thinks that jockstraps are becoming more and more popular, Avery believes the answer is pretty simple: “People are starting to really like butts.”
“I think in the gay community — and the queer community and heterosexual community — butts are becoming more of a thing that people are generally accepting,” he adds. “We believe you should love all parts of your body, but people are really having a fixation with butts. And I think it’s really cool because I always have. And I think that if you feel comfortable enough to wear a jockstrap and show your butt, that’s why it’s getting more popular.”
A little love from Mother Monster’s merch store doesn’t hurt, either. “Lady Gaga embracing the jockstrap makes it more mainstream as well,” Avery says. “We have to love the butt.”
When Ruxwood launched its jockstrap collection, the company also debuted Blackbook, an app similar to a period tracker that lets users enter notes about their dates, hookups, and anything involving their sexual health.
The genesis of Blackbook came from a personal place for Avery, who often wrote notes about his own sexual health in his journal. “It didn’t feel like it was blending right,” he explains. “I needed another space that was also private to just focus on those special moments that really mattered to me. I think — especially in the queer community — there can be a lot of shame around sexual encounters or just going on dates in general. Being able to journal and document it really helps you place your feelings about that specific encounter or experience, and makes you more comfortable standing up for yourself and knowing what you want out of sensual and romantic experiences.”
What’s next for Ruxwood? “We’re always working on new stuff,” Avery says coyly. “And this is just Jock 01, just number one.”