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Saturday, February 16, 2008

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The battle below the belt in men's underwear!



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In the pristine world of white male briefs, it's war. On the one side is David Beckham, currently more male icon than soccer hero, his taut body in Emporio Armani underpants in a vast street poster ad in Milan.

On the opposing side is Michelangelo's "David" - or at least how the sculpture might have looked had the Florentine burghers insisted on a cover-up. Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce launched their riposte over the weekend as a private-collection calendar showing the heroic, muscular male.

The David vs. "David" standoff marks the moment that underwear has come out of the drawers and off the shelves to become, to men's fashion, the female equivalent of the handbag. It is an accessory - and even a necessity - that can be turned into big bucks.

Behind Giorgio Armani's focus on Beckham, which has roots in the cozy relationship he has developed with international soccer stars, is the realization that although one pair of pants may look much like another, branding with celebrity endorsement gives sales superpower.

"Never before has the world been so interested in legends - and sports stars reach another group of people," says Armani. "The day after we announced the Beckham collaboration, we got great results both commercially and image wise."


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