Updated from Sept. 18, 2013, to include interview with Tommy John Founder and CEO Tom Patterson as well as new information, particularly news of a new product launch and comparisons to companies such as Under Armour (UA) NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Serendipity rocks. In fact, random serendipitous events keep me from becoming a pessimistic and bitter observer of all that's wrong in the world. Last week, I was lucky enough to appear on CNBC's "Squawk Box" morning program not once, but twice. Needless to say, that was (is and will always remain) a major honor. It also meant that, naturally, I paid more attention to one of the show's hosts, Andrew Ross Sorkin, last week. Not sure why I wasn't before, but I started following the award-winning author and The New York Times journalist on Twitter. Good thing I upped Sorkin's visibility in my "social" life. If I didn't, I might not have come across this gem on The New York Times Magazine "Style" blog:
I can't possibility do Sorkin's rhetorical talents and way with prose justice via excerpts and a paraphrased summary, so read his article. It's well worth your time, particularly if you are a male who wears underwear. But, in a nutshell (pun childishly intended), Sorkin smartly chronicles his experience with underwear, particularly the undershirt, culminating in a major chest bump for Tommy John brand undergarments. This resonated with me because, after years of searching, I thought I could do no better than a mix of Under Armour ( UA) and ExOfficio boxer briefs and somewhat reluctantly purchased undershirts and briefs from Kenneth Cole. I had no idea an upper echelon of underwear even existed. At least not one within my financial reach. As a company and concept, Tommy John differentiates itself from Under Armour and others in several ways. First, it is an underwear company at heart. While Under Armour started with moisture-wicking t-shirts and brands such as Calvin Klein started with high-fashion, Tommy John started with undershirts, moved on to underpants and, as of Monday, introduced socks. Patterson says the company's strategy is to dress men "from the inside out." That's opposite to the common trajectory of launching undergarments after the fact merely to enter a potentially lucrative category. With the introduction of socks at the beginning of October, Tommy John continues on that path. Second, Tommy John falls in between companies such as Under Armour and Nike ( NKE) on one side and Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren ( RL) on the other. It blends athletic features such as light compression with the fashion and function CK and RL have come to be known for. Tommy John stuff isn't cheap. Items run you roughly $30 to $40 a pop, but the second I opened the box and slipped on the first undershorts/undershirt set, I knew it was worth every penny. So good I'm wearing my Tommy John underpants today and might even wash them tonight so I can wear them again tomorrow before the next shipment arrives. This experience is akin to meeting the right woman. You just know it's the real deal from the word go. A first date (in this case, the Tommy John "starter kit") turned into an uncontrollable and, I reckon, very sustainable lust (a $250 order set to arrive Thursday or Friday). Why are these undergarments so good? Why are they worthy of a column in the vaunted New York Times and now one here at TheStreet? Sorkin covers those bases quite nicely, but ... how do I say this? ... Well, I'll just say it.