NEW YORK Men who like to sag their jeans down low but fear they could end up around the ankles may be interested in newly designed pants that snap to special boxer shorts for support and improved mobility.
Sagz Jeans were unveiled earlier this week by Irese and Mark Davenport, two brothers from Newark, New Jersey, who noticed their teenage children's movement was hampered by the look, which came to prominence in 1990s hip-hop music videos.
"They're holding their pants up not being able to play sports, basically being unhealthy because of the attire they were wearing," Mark Davenport said.
His brother, who invented the concept and patented it in 2006, "just wanted them to be able to live a more active lifestyle."
Mark Davenport evoked the pitiful image of a young man with sagging pants unmoored to his underwear attempting to run to catch a bus.
With Sagz Jeans, the pants can be snapped to the waist-hugging underwear at three different heights allowing the wearer to show how low he can go without actually risking a wardrobe malfunction.
Both brothers are well aware of the controversy surrounding the style, in which large swathes of the wearer's underwear are visible above their pants' low-slung waistline. Several U.S. municipalities have essentially outlawed the look, instituting fines or even jail time for those caught sagging.
Even President Barack Obama has weighed in, saying in 2008 that although he considers anti-sagging legislation a waste of time, he nonetheless thinks "brothers should pull up their pants."
Obama said: "You don't have to pass a law, but that doesn't mean folks can't have some sense and some respect for other people and, you know, some people might not want to see your underwear - I'm one of them."
Dwayne Hoard, the creative director of Sagz, believes such reactions are simply the latest in an unending, inevitable cycle of older people finding themselves unnerved by the habits and tastes of the young.
"I don't think this is any different from rock and roll in the 60s or punk in the 70s," he said. "Rock and roll was considered taboo. Elvis shaking his hips was considered taboo. Rap music was considered taboo."
He said young men who sag their pants are unfairly demonized as hooligans or thugs. The style is sometimes thought to have originated in prisons, where new inmates would be handed oversized pants but no belt for fear it could be used as a weapon or in a suicide attempt. Hoard prefers to date its origins to when Michael Jordan started wearing relatively baggy basketball shorts.
In any case, he says, it's a form of youth expression doomed to be misunderstood by elders.
"Young folks, they will sag no matter what," he said. "What we are trying to do is offer a better alternative."
The line was officially launched this week, and will retail online only for now. A pair of Sagz jeans costs about $80, including a pair of snapped-in boxers.
The company says it aims to make between $500,000 and $1 million in sales in its first year.
Hoard is optimistic. He recently showed the designs to a group of skateboarding teens in his neighborhood and explained to them how they might never need to hitch up their waist again.
"The kids literally lost their minds," he said.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Cynthia Johnston)