Documentary Explores How ‘International Male’ Sexualized Men’s Fashion

(image via Facebook)

The upcoming documentary, ALL MAN: The International Male Story, takes you beyond the glossy pages of the iconic, men’s mail-order fashion catalog, revealing its impact on fashion, sexuality, and masculinity in America.

The film aims to explore the story behind the iconic International Male fashion catalog that “transformed the ‘All-American Boy,’ changing fashion, masculinity, and gay rights forever.”

For more than 3 decades, the International Male catalog brought hunky, handsome men wearing sometimes edgy fashions and skimpy underwear into homes everywhere. At a time when gay magazines were mailed in special wrappers, the IM catalog was viewed as ‘acceptable’ reading material you could leave on your coffee table.

(screen capture)

At IM’s peak, the company mailed out more than 3 million copies of the catalog generating revenues of $120 million.

Former pre-fame models for the fashion catalog include Kevin Sorbo (Hercules), Shemar Moore (Criminal Minds), David Chokachi (Baywatch), and Reichen Lehmkuhl (Amazing Race).

Speaking to NewNowNext, the film’s directors Jesse Finley Reed and Bryan Darling share that International Male helped give men permission “to look at each other and themselves in a way where sexuality is open and the body is something to be celebrated and looked at.”

(screen capture)

But for gay men, it was also a window into another world with images of sensually dressed men providing an escape from the AIDS crisis and burgeoning homophobia.

Carson Kressley (original fashion expert for Queer Eye) says, “International Male really capitalized on putting masculine guys in some pretty ‘not’ masculine outfits. The very start of the metrosexual movement – where you can wear clothes just to have fun.”

(screen capture)

Back in the day, International Male’s clothes and fashion layouts influenced television and pop culture. Many saw the catalog as a precursor to the Abercrombie & Fitch catalogs yet to come.

ALL MAN features Kressley along with Jake Shears, Brian Buzzini, David Knight, Steve Lyon and Robert Goold. The creative team promises “exclusive never-seen-before photographs and videos, interviews with super fans and celebrities, and creative re-enactments of the infamous photoshoots, and more!”

The film is currently in production and no release date has been announced.

For more information about the project, head over to the official website here and you can find lots more archival photos on the film’s Facebook page here.

(h/t NewNowNext)