Sunday, February 25, 2018

International Male: First Male Fashionista!

Image result for International Male Catalogue
International Male was a mail-order clothing brand and, at one point in the brand's history, carried brick-and-mortar stores of the same name. The company that created and owns the brand, originally Brawn of California, started in 1974–1975, has since been sold in its entirety in 1987 to Hanover Direct, based in New Jersey.
International Male was a vendor of men's casual, office-casual, and some gallant clothing items which are or were at various price levels and which are and were generally geared to the dandy. Brawn of California, and all brands in its portfolio, is now owned by New Jersey-based group Hanover Direct, which purchased the company in 1987 when founder Gene Burkard retired.
Image result for International Male Catalogue
The catalog originally carried a wide variety of men's underwear, but this was once spun off into a separate catalog, Undergear, which focused exclusively on men's underwear, swimwear, and some casual wear. The last mailed catalog of International Male was published in 2007. The brands are both available via their own websites, but the International Male site is now defunct and redirects to the Undergear site.
Image result for International Male Catalogue
As of 2009, Hanover Direct consolidated these two product platforms under the Undergear label. Undergear is now the sole catalog and web site and incorporates the non-underwear items that would earlier have been in the International Male catalog-website. The selection of non-underwear clothing is quite limited in comparison to the former years (when International Male was its own separate catalog and website containing many items of clothing besides underwear and swimwear).
Image result for International Male Catalogue
Over the years, many famous models and actors have posed for the catalog, such as Shemar Moore, Cameron Mathison, Charles Dera, Christian Boeving, David Chokachi, Gregg Avedon, Reichen Lehmkuhl, Rusty Joiner, Brandon Marcel and Scott King.
I guess it makes sense now that gay boys have so many more masturbation options, but I'm sad to see 'em go just the same. We owe the catalog company a lifetime of gratitude for introducing us to Brian Buzzini.

Image result for International Male Catalogue
In the mid-1970s, a former ad salesman Gene Buckard (yes, Buckard) opened a store in San Diego whose name, Brawn of California but it wasn’t until he began mailing catalogs that Buckard’s company took off under the name International Male. By 1993, IM had moved into the mainstream as a pop culture punchline with their pirate-look “Puffy Shirt” inspiring a classic Seinfeld episode.

Gay men just MAY have been waiting for those quarterly mailings, specifically for the “UnderGear” section in the back. In 2009 International Male became known officially as UnderGear, but they never make the leap to a big online business the way so many other catalogues did.

Michael Kleinman, editor of The Underwear Expert says,
“Years ago, brands didn’t sell direct to consumer online. As the years went on, if you had to choose, you’d buy from a discounter. Amazon does a huge underwear business.”
UnderGear suffered the death of a thousand corporate cuts and today they are reduced to just discount items and a mere ghost of their former image on Facebook. It’s a sad-face ending to an iconic brand. But if you saved your vintage catalogues they can be auctioned on eBay for upwards of 2 figures (like $11). Former Olympic star, FKA, Bruce Jenner was once a cover guy, so take a look to see if you’ve still got that one. Cha-Ching!
Image result for International Male CatalogueINTERNATIONAL-MALE-SUMMER-2001-008AM876_FV_V13Image result for International Male Catalogue

No comments:

Post a Comment