Tom of Finland’s work is almost omnipresent at this point. Whether installed in a gallery context, or brought to life via one of the many collaborations that the Tom of Finland Store puts together, his imagery of muscle-bound men with bulging crotches, bubble butts all dressed in leather or some other type of uniform (if dressed at all) is almost instantly recognizable. But a subset of some of the lesser viewed works is finding new life via a partnership with fashion brand No Sesso.
The reality is that Tom’s work has a tendency to be shown and showcased almost exclusively depicting cis, white, masculine men — tropes of men to be frank. And while that is no doubt, a large part of his work, there is a collection of work that deviates from this. Case in point: his imagery of Black men.
In a new collaboration featuring a limited edition denim jacket, No Sesso puts Tom’s work featuring Black men on display. “When we were initially approached to do this project we were apprehensive due to the overtly white legacy of Tom of Finland's works, but after reviewing the archives we were surprised to see images of Black men and women in sexually versatile positions,” Pierre Davis of No Sesso said. In February the brand became the first fashion label created by a trans person to show on the official New York Fashion Week calendar. “That was something we wanted to showcase with this collaboration and our designs.”
With only 10 jackets made, here we look at the art created as early as the 1960s that was collaged onto the design.