The Best (and Worst) of International Male & Undergear Over the Years
By Out.com Editors
In the mid-1970s, former ad salesman Gene Buckard opened a San Diego store whose name, Brawn of California, defined its mission: changing the way men perceived “loungewear” from tacky leopard-print brief and fat-shaming muumuus to sexy, body-hugging and box-revealing underwear, bathing suits, thongs and jocks. Undressing for success fueled a second store in Los Angeles. But it wasn’t until Buckard began mailing catalogs that his company really took off.
We collected a slew of good, bad, ugly (and unbelievable) fashion on some amazing models over the years to remember what happened. And how much some of us cherished this catalog (for LOTS of reasons) before its inevitable demise.
Under the name International Male, Buckard’s mantra was “fashion forward”; unfortunately, that often translated into items like an $88 “Rock & Stone Ripped Stitching Jean” that could have inspired Dolly Parton’s quip, “It costs a lot of money to look this cheap.” Buckard was addicted to weird neologisms like “pant” for pants (e.g., the “James Jean”). Cargo pants became the “Missionary Pant.” Leather jackets were called “Rocky,” “Montana,” “Motion,” “Cruise,” “Charlie” and, my personal favorite, “Bondage.”
By 1993, Internatioanl Male had moved into the mainstream — albeit as an object of ridicule. The “Pirate Shirt” inspired one of the most popular episodes of Larry David's Seinfeld.
Bruce Jenner on the 1980 Cover
The catalog did manage to land at least one major “get” for a cover shoot: former Olympic star-turned-actor named Bruce (now Caitlyn) Jenner.
But in 2001, a model agent told the New York Times — after the film Zoolander featured a blow-up of the fictional super-model’s IM cover in his agent’s reception area — that: “Our clients see someone in International Male and don’t even consider him. It’s a bad, bad image.”