What gay man doesn't love looking at underwear ads? And it's not just ads for Calvin Klein that can take your breath away (although CK's portfolio has some of the most alluring in the men's fashion industry). I've chosen some favorites from my archives to share. Believe me, it was a challenge limiting my choices to just five. But since I have so many ads in my collection I'm making this a regular feature.
- Calvin Klein. For all that he's contributed to the men's fashion underwear market it seems fitting to begin with a Calvin Klein ad. It's from this year and features Spanish tennis star Fernando Verdasco (who knew there was another Spanish tennis player other than Rafael Nadal?). It differs from other years for its dash of color and Verdasco's tossled, just-out-of-bed hair.
- Abercrombie & Fitch. Although much of this brand's eye candy was on display in its in-house magazine, this is a magazine ad from the late 1990s. Of course, a gaggle of young women surround this young buck, a common Abercrombie device.
- Fruit of the Loom. What makes this ad from 1980 of particular interest is that it features a hairy chested model. Nowadays nary a chest hair is seen, the legacy of photographers Bruce Weber and Herb Ritts who depicted their models as Greek and Aryan gods. Also of note are the model's striking, "drag queen" eyes.
- Calvin Klein. Antonio Sabato Jr. modeled for Klein in the early to mid-1990s, overlapping with Marky Mark (remember their va-va-voom giant billboards in Times Square?). What's interesting about this ad is that I found it on the back cover of the political commentary magazine The New Republic. Perhaps it was due to the presence at the time of its openly gay editor, Andrew Sullivan. An interesting use of plastic water cooler bottles as props. And Sabato's boyish look is sexy as hell.
- Jockey. Like the ad above, this is another that proves that bare chests aren't always necessary for conveying sex appeal. Jockey featured physicians in one execution and firemen in a second.
For underwear aficionados here are three blogs devoted to the subject (and I'm sure there are plenty more): Men's Underwear Blog, Underwear Newsbriefs and Jockboy Locker. Also, Universal Gear in Chelsea (140 8th Avenue) has a good selection and Macy's and Bloomingdale's also have extensive inventories. Sadly, a store devoted entirely to men's briefs, Wonderwear on Greenwich Avenue, closed after less than two years. Apparently, a retail establishment can't survive on underwear alone.