“Knickers,” in the Retail Space

The always sharp and vigilant Nancy Friedman has spotted an American incursion of “knickers,” meaning women’s underwear. Heretofore I’ve only seen one instance — a quote by the actress Anna Kendrick– and the NOOB expression “knickers in a twist.” Nancy writes that it comes via two underwear brands:

The first brand is Knickey, founded in 2017 in New York City and still headquartered there. Knickey sells organic-cotton women’s undergarments, top and bottom, in sizes XXS to XXXL (although the largest size isn’t terribly large by contemporary fit standards). The brand name certainly appears to be derived from knickers—it’s not explained on the website, and I found no US trademark applications from the company that reveal the name’s derivation. Knickey is cutely reinforced by one of the product categories: “Knick Knacks.” But Knickey doesn’t go Full British Usage in its product names; it calls its bottom-half apparel “undies.”…

One of the Knickey knick-knacks is the Knickey hanky, illustrated with abstract renderings of bodies viewed from the rear. I discovered the other knickers-esque brand name during a stroll down San Francisco’s Fillmore Street….

Knix Fillmore San Francisco

Knix was founded in Toronto in 2013; the San Francisco store opened in November 2021. The company sells its own line of seamless bras, underwear—nope, not “knickers” … yet—and leakproof underwear (a growing category of its own). The parent company, Knix Wear, began registering U.S. trademarks in 2012; its applications don’t include a clarification of the name, but again—pretty clearly derived from “knickers.”

We shall see if “knickers” moves from the retail space to the real people actually using it space. I have my doubts, but my prognostication is worth the money you have paid for it.

12 thoughts on ““Knickers,” in the Retail Space

  1. The great thing about the word “knickers” is that it is funny in itself.

    Here in Australia they marketed a line of women’s briefs called “no-knickers_ on the basis that they were as comfortabe as wearing nothing. This led to a great line of humorous ads:

    1. I remember seeing a version of that ad on British television in the eighties, one of those “funny ads from around the world” shows. Only, as I recall (it was a long time ago), at the end the indication was that she really was wearing no knickers and that she was mooning the pianist. Was there another version or a spoof, or am I just misremembering?

      1. You are right there was a later version in which the singer was actually wearing no knickers.

      1. Yes, it was. I am nothing if not steadfast in my sloth at clicking on links that prove useful.

        On Sat, Feb 19, 2022 at 5:11 PM notoneoffbritishisms.com wrote:

        > Nancy Friedman commented: “@David: Included in my post!” >

  2. Once upon a time, after learning ‘Swalk’ – ‘sealed with a loving kiss’ – British teenagers would graduate to ‘Norwich’ – ‘knickers off ready when I come home’. Yes, I know.

    1. I remember hearing that in a monologue by Alan Bennett in Beyond the Fringe. (1960, but I saw an excerpt on TV much later.) It was a man dictating a telegram to his girlfriend. It was followed by, “Yes, I know knickers is spelt with a ‘k’. I went to Oxford, that was one of the first things they taught us.”

      I wonder if this sketch came first and it entered common usage later.

      1. There are almost no citations in that article, and it even points out that some of them are more recent than WWII.

  3. Instead of “knickers in a twist” we in the U.S. (at least southern part) use “Don’t get your panties in a bunch.” I would suspect we in the U.S. used the word knickers quite a lot back when people commonly wore them a century ago…

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