Messenger - Vol. 2, No. 1, Page 27
Fall 1992
Alumni Profile; Boxer shorts visionary launches new lines

     Peter Max wears them and so do some of the B-52's. Chances are someone
you know and love has a pair, too. They're Mike & Mike boxer shorts and
they're designed with a whimsical and creative touch by Mike Dodson,
Delaware '82.
     Dodson is technically the only Mike involved. In the beginning, he
named his underwear, sleepwear and loungewear company Mike & Mike to make
it appear larger than it actually was. That decision is indicative of the
Dodson flair that landed him a job with a New York City advertising agency
two days after graduating from the U. of D. and that helped his meteoric
rise to fame in the advertising world while still in his 20s.
     With a degree in visual communications, Dodson never imagined he would
some day find himself in the center of the Big Apple's fashion industry. He
envisioned a career in graphic design and advertising. Now in his early
30s, his resume lists successes in both fields.
     Dodson tempers his big city savvy with a boyish charm and modesty,
stressing again and again that he has been "very, very lucky" in his
     "Two hours after graduation I was in New York. My mother dropped me
off on her way to Connecticut. I moved in with two other U. of D. grads on
Saturday, goofed off on Sunday, had an interview on Monday and was working
by Tuesday."
     That first job was with AC&R Advertising, where he worked on such
accounts as Estee Lauder.
     "I was very fortunate that the University has ties to the agency.
There was a man there who hired one or two graduates from Delaware every
     After working there for about six months, Dodson was hired by the
prestigious advertising firm, Ogilvy & Mather. Again, he attributes landing
that job to fate and to a philosophy that sees good things coming out of
     "I was living in Spanish Harlem with two other Delaware graduates, and
we all came back to Delaware for Christmas. I always took my portfolio
along with me wherever I went, but this time, I left it in the apartment.
While we were away, we were burglarized. They took the portfolio and, with
it, four years of my work went down the tubes. Having nothing forced me to
redo everything, and I think it turned out for the best. I had a fresh
portfolio when I went to Ogilvy & Mather and that, together with good
timing, well, I don't know...I was there when they just happened to need
     Dodson worked at the agency for three years, and each of those years,
Ogilvy & Mather was named the country's most creative ad agency.
     "Not that I had anything to do with it," he stresses, "but it was a
time when they were riding the crest of a wave."
     For him personally, it meant working on print and television ads for
American Express, General Foods and Avon and working with people like Peter
Max and Andy Warhol.
     He also did freelance work on the side, and one day, a client asked
him if he could come up with some funky ideas for boxer shorts.
     "I thought, well, if they can put my graphics on paper, they can put
them on cloth," Dodson says, so he gave it a try.
     He became so busy with that and other freelance work, he named his
company Mike & Mike.
     "I sort of cloned myself. I thought that if I called myself Mike &
Mike, it would at least look like a two-man operation," he explained.
     The logo, two men in suits and hats, carrying briefcases, has been
featured on a line of boxer shorts, pajamas and sheets designed to appeal
to the business man.
     His first novelty line came out for Christmas, 1988. Things have
expanded over the years and now he creates both the fabric and the
     His trademark boxer shorts, called half and halfs, feature two designs
that just naturally go together. There is the Father's World line, with
designs like pipes on one side and slippers on the other; the Food line,
with such novelties as bacon on one leg and eggs on the other; the
Christmas line with, among others, a Naughty and Nice motif; and the Wall
Street line, with bulls and bears, stocks and bonds and, well, you get the
     The shorts are sold in department and specialty stores, and Dodson
says there is no age limit on their appeal. Customers of both sexes buy
them for themselves or as gifts.
     Currently, Dodson works through licensing agreements with
manufacturers. He gives them permission to use his logo on items he has
designed or approved. Right now, one firm manufactures his boxer shorts and
sleepwear, and another licensing agreement covers beach towels and
     In addition to looking for a backer to help him go into business for
himself and expanding Mike & Mike (there will be a surf line for spring,
'93), he also is designing women's apparel. It's a line of boxer short-like
skirts in transparent fabrics with three-inch waistbands. He is
experimenting with cotton eyelet, black lace and rhinestones and hopes to
gather the capital to launch the line nationwide.
     Ten months ago, the stress of life in the big city had Dodson
frazzled, and he moved back to what he calls "Spa Delaware." Now, he is
back in New York City to be near suppliers and manufacturers. In the
future, he plans to maintain two homes and use the one in Delaware when he
needs to get away.
     At the University, Dodson has kept close ties with Ray Nichols,
professor of art, who, along with Martha Carothers, associate professor of
art, was a mentor during his college days.
     Nichols has nothing but high praise for his former student, who
returned last spring to critique an advertising campaign Nichols had his
students devise for Mike & Mike.
     Success in the fashion business, Dodson said, can be measured in
several ways. There are the dollars, the press and the offers to do fashion
shows. But, for Dodson personally, success comes when he spots a pair of
Mike & Mike's poolside in Arizona or when a friend tells him of someone who
now owns a pair.
     His own best promoter, he keeps a backpack full of Mike & Mikes with
him wherever he goes and is quick to reach inside and offer free samples.
     And, while he admits the boxer short boom is beginning to fade, he
sees boxers taking their place right along T-shirts in the wardrobes of
mainstream America.
     "T-shirts had a real blast-off when they first got big," he said, "and
they've stood the test of time. I think it'll be the same for boxers."
     Does he ever regret his move over to the fashion industry? Ever yearn
for the old advertising agency days?
     "No. I enjoy working 24 hours a day. I keep a sketch pad by my bed in
case I ever come up with an idea in my sleep. I know. I'm obsessive. That's
why there are two of me!"
                                   -Beth Thomas