Adventures of an International Male
October 9, 2005 1:06 AM   Subscribe

Adventures of an International Male - For almost 30 years a curious clothing catalog has sold ruffled pirate shirts, pink sleeveless suits, and sequined black capes to a seemingly invisible public. What’s it like to go through life in a mesh top?
posted by well_balanced (43 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
What’s it like to go through life in a mesh top?
Short answer: drafty.

I actually used to get this catalog...it was rather fascinating. They had some nice long coats and belts, but most of the slinky mocks and what-have-you I skipped over. No point in emphasizing the fact I don't have a chest. Or developed upper arms. Or washboard abs...

Come to think of it, that's probably why I don't miss this catalog much.
posted by deusdiabolus at 1:35 AM on October 9, 2005


Somethingawful's take on International Male.

"I have six years of experience in prancing and three years of experience waving away a manservant with irritation."
posted by deafmute at 1:57 AM on October 9, 2005


"But I don't wanna be a pirate!"
posted by Mikey-San at 2:28 AM on October 9, 2005


Aaha! So that's where Yanni shops.
posted by nathan_teske at 3:17 AM on October 9, 2005


The main article is very good. Thanks for pointing me to this. Now I'm going to look for more of the author's stuff.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:45 AM on October 9, 2005


I sort of want the International Male credit card.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:17 AM on October 9, 2005


Metafilter: Pairing the allure of faux suede with the elegance of embroidered swirl detailing.

(I told myself I would never do that...)
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:40 AM on October 9, 2005


Damn, when I was younger, I would've killed for a good pair of silver trousers and a swashbuckler shirt.

Now I'm just wondering how X the XXL Nightshirt is...
posted by Katemonkey at 4:50 AM on October 9, 2005


That nightshirt is not a new design. More classic menswear here.
posted by iviken at 5:42 AM on October 9, 2005


I have a feeling that Adam Ant gets the catalog.
posted by R. Mutt at 6:18 AM on October 9, 2005


The Puffy Shirt episode.
posted by caddis at 6:30 AM on October 9, 2005


The main article is hosted at a website that uses a pop-under (Javascript?) technique that defeats, for one, Safari's (2.0.1) "Block Pop-Up Windows" function.

Fuck them.
posted by mistersquid at 6:38 AM on October 9, 2005


Mmm, pirate shirts. YUM.

Now I want to go to the Renfaire.
posted by keptwench at 6:48 AM on October 9, 2005


For some reason, Katemonkey, they have the Swashbuckler Shirt in the novelty section and the metallic pants in casual.
posted by tommasz at 6:56 AM on October 9, 2005


I like how you can hear these pants go whoosh
posted by The Jesse Helms at 7:14 AM on October 9, 2005


Not just Adam Ant, I think all the New Romantics must have got their gear there. Just check out Spandau Ballet. If only I'd known about this when I was a girly back in the 80s. Those frilly shirts would have been the envy of the school disco.
posted by Flitcraft at 7:26 AM on October 9, 2005


Thank you so much for this. It made my day. I imagine this was hard to categorize...I mean, do you put it in "novelty" or "tank tops"?
posted by biscotti at 7:45 AM on October 9, 2005


I have not laughed this hard over clothes in a long time. Oh heavens. I must rush out and buy one of those lace up sleeveless tanks biscotti found for my husband. Cause I'm sure that it would look much better on a man with a pelt.
posted by onhazier at 7:57 AM on October 9, 2005


'I have the same suit, only in yellow. . ." sez Pepe Fanjul, Florida sugar baron.

BWAHAHA!
posted by rdone at 8:06 AM on October 9, 2005




I think nothing more need be said.
posted by verb at 8:08 AM on October 9, 2005


biscotti: Why do I suddenly have this vision of a gay "bodice ripper" romance cover with those models playing the role of the rippee?
posted by djfiander at 8:41 AM on October 9, 2005


djfiander: that's EXACTLY what I thought too.
posted by biscotti at 8:46 AM on October 9, 2005


My brother-in-law should receive his underwear catalog in 7-14 days...... ;)
posted by photoslob at 9:11 AM on October 9, 2005


I was disappointed that the shorts weren't too HOTT, but then I saw these. Whoa, daddy!
posted by tizzie at 9:19 AM on October 9, 2005


my, my
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:19 AM on October 9, 2005


why is it that women dressing glamorous or sexy looks good, but men doing the same looks somewhat ridiculous?

And I'm not saying that just as a straight guy, because I can look at another man and say whether he looks good or not, but this stuff is ridiculous. The thongs especially. I just don't see how a woman (or gay dude for that matter) can look at a string of fabric wedged up some dudes hairy buttcrack and say "mmmm, gimmme somma dat!"
posted by jonmc at 9:24 AM on October 9, 2005


Wow, who knew they sold other clothes?

I don't know if the only IM catalogs I ever saw years ago were underwear-only -- or if they were larger catalogs but I only noticed the underwear section.
At any rate, seeing page after page of lovingly portrayed guys in jocks, I somehow sensed it was not your average Sears & Roebuck book.
posted by NorthernLite at 9:27 AM on October 9, 2005


They made a classic blunder. They assumed that if they made products to sell to straight men, that gay men would like to look at, too, then those products had to be designed by gay men.

No, no no. There is a fine line between macho and swish, and straight men are acutely aware of it, if unconsciously. It's not terribly logical.

Take a pirate outfit, for example. First and foremost, it has to look like something you would put on, then climb aboard a ship in the 18th Century and be a pirate. Of course it doesn't have to be too accurate, but it has to seem sort of utilitarian authentic. Because *ironically*, the pirate outfit that straight men want to wear to cocktail parties looks like a *real* pirate outfit, not a cocktail party outfit.

Have the designers make outfits that look like a costume used in "Master and Commander". And *then* add one extra thing that looks a little daring, like a ruffled pirate shirt. One eye-catching thing is good. Two or more is bad.

As another example. The "nobleman" look that straight men love, basically a 'gentleman's' uniform, say 19th Century. These, a whole series, should be designed with actual historical outfits in mind. It is the daily wear of someone who is recognized as a nobleman by all around him. Again, it may have *one* accessory that looks gaudy.

Optimally, they should make outfits that can be worn in public that look "dashing", not "eyecatching" or something to snicker over. Only after they are examined closely do they seem mildly anachronistic.

Right now, there is a company that makes 'modern' kilts, that are not traditional Scots' kilts. Their orientation, and their success, is marketing to working men. Their products sell well because they have this utilitarian look. And yet they are probably worn more to cocktail parties than used on the job.

To survive, this catalogue should make "dashing" clothes that frat boys would want to put on to look more mature. That group being fashion timid, they should also offer separate accessories to establish their label a bit at a time, shooting for the "real man" market. Their models should be in their 30s, with a tough guy look, not a model look. What the frat boys want to grow up and become.
posted by kablam at 9:58 AM on October 9, 2005


kablam:

Utilikilts, made here in Seattle, where, actually, I have yet to encounter one at a party. I do see them worn during the day pretty regularly by a wide assortment of guys - and gals.
posted by mwhybark at 10:19 AM on October 9, 2005


Awww, yeah. An old roommate of mine used to subscribe to the catalogue. Sometimes, if I was going through a creative dry spell, I'd spend some time drawing the models in loving detail. It worked!

I've always secretly hoped to find a geographical pocket with a high International Male density - perhaps in a suburb in Jersey or north of Boston, or an all-inclusive swingers resort in the Bahamas. No luck yet, but I'm keeping the dream alive.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 10:44 AM on October 9, 2005


Form the article:
"Prior to [International Male], gay fashion was more effeminate," says Burkard. "There were lots of caftans and froufrou stuff. We came along and butched up the act."
...
"The guys are real Hai Karate guys, unapologetically masculine," [Simon Doonan, the self-described "world's leading authority on bad men's catalogs"] says. "They're not girly boys. They're not metrosexuals. They're real blokes in the tradition of Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood. To me the International Males don't look gay. They look like tough, sleazy, straight men, which is probably why gay men like it. The contemporary ideal of masculinity is actually very girly.
...
The roomy pant leg seems to have been designed for a man who travels with large packages taped to his thighs.
Spinal Tap wore tight pants for large packages:
They see us on stage with tight trousers and we’ve got, you know, armadillos in our trousers. I mean, it’s really quite frightening, the size.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:59 AM on October 9, 2005


[AmericanIdolFilter]:
Paula Abdul's new boyfriend is an International Male model.
posted by slow, man at 11:16 AM on October 9, 2005


I just want to predict, as of this moment, that Kablam's post will make the front page sidebar.
posted by JHarris at 12:00 PM on October 9, 2005


You guy's have seen this too? Thank GOD! I thought I'd hallucinated International Male. Not one straight friend of mine EVER admitted to getting it.

My fear was that it was either an insidiously inept homosexual recruitment tool or, more likely, some right wing Christian attempt at Snail Mail Gaydar - used for outing and then blackmailing closeted gay men with high credit limits and poor taste.
posted by tkchrist at 1:09 PM on October 9, 2005


I was disappointed that the shorts weren't too HOTT, but then I saw these. Whoa, daddy!

And, it's a sundial!
posted by rob511 at 4:21 PM on October 9, 2005


I can't wait to use the gaypirates tag on one of my posts.
posted by kyleg at 5:11 PM on October 9, 2005


Hilarious. Great post.
posted by Melinika at 6:06 PM on October 9, 2005


Some of the stuff in the International Male catalog is truly awful. There's just no denying it. Mesh shirts, silver pants, and matching shirts and ties in gold lame probably won't ever be considered in good taste.

But have you really looked at the shit that passes for fashion right now? In 10 years, we'll be looking back on the outre logoed sportswear, the obnoxious belly shirts, the avant-garde athletic shoes, the flamboyant fashion mini-boots, and the whole faux-sloppy look, and we'll wonder: "What the hell were we thinking?" We'll see the 2000s as a nadir of fashion like nothing since the 1970s.

And we'll wish that we had been the ones with the balls to wear something like the London Opera Trenchcoat or even the Scarlet Pimp suit - something that transcended the herd-mentality banality of mere fashion and at least aspired to have style.
posted by Western Infidels at 6:20 PM on October 9, 2005 [1 favorite]


I'll have you all know that their big baggy gabardine pants they sell are awesome to wear with normal non-International Male clothes. The rest you may laugh at, but the baggy gabardine pants, oh no!

Also, is it possible to flag kablam's post as Best Answer? I know it isn't AskMe, but still, it should be flagged for best answer anyway.
posted by TwelveTwo at 8:17 PM on October 9, 2005


Just check out Spandau Ballet. If only I'd known about this when I was a girly back in the 80s. Those frilly shirts would have been the envy of the school disco.

This much is true. This much is troo-ooh. This much is troo-ooh-ooh.
posted by jonp72 at 8:41 PM on October 9, 2005


EXPLAINING IT ALL, for those who wonder what the IM catalog is for:

"...And remember, you don't have to BE a male model to dress like one. That's what our catalog is for!"

Q.E.D., babe.
posted by clicktosubmit at 10:54 PM on October 9, 2005


And we'll wish that we had been the ones with the balls to wear something like the London Opera Trenchcoat or even the Scarlet Pimp suit - something that transcended the herd-mentality banality of mere fashion and at least aspired to have style.
posted by Western Infidels at 9:20 PM EST

Back in the late 70's, early 80's I hated, HATED most of what passed for fashion and then I discovered The Banana Republic (pre-GAP ownership) catalog. What a joy. The French Fisherman's hat, the Israeli Army Coulottes, the English Nanny Cape.

I still have my Australian Cattleman's Raincoat covered in wax. It weighs a ton, but by god it looks good! and it still keeps me dry
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:51 AM on October 10, 2005


These guys are nothing if not persistent. I ordered some shoes(two tone spats, for swing dancing baby!)
from them and the catalog followed me fromn duty station to duty station even when I had a place off base. Ok it’s not hard to find a guy with my name in Scotland, but I was living off-base and my name wasn’t on the lease.
Weird.

I too enjoy wearing the wide cut pants *harrumph*(big thighs) and I love the Utilikilts mon.

I got a lot of odd looks in Chicago wearing the Utilikilt however. I enjoy the “Yeah? You got a problem with it?” attitude you can project however. Which I think is the flip side of ‘macho.’ I don’t care how I look, I just like dry balls.

I also like that Australian Cattleman's Raincoat, Secret Life of Gravy, nice and heavy, shrugs off water well and the pockets are tough enough for me to pack heat. Although it’s usually keys and such that poke through regular pockets.But speaking of packing heat:
http://www.coronadoleather.com/
has some very useful clothes.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:39 AM on October 10, 2005


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