Journalist Mark Simpson named it spor, a mix between sport and porn. “Sport”, Simpson said in 2006, “is the new pornography”. From David Beckham to Fredrik Ljungberg; handsome and ripped men on the playing field had become objects of lust, especially for a growing number of gay sports fans.
In the three decades since Simpson wrote his article on spor for Out magazine, what was once an implicit allusion in sports advertising is now an explicit reference. Álvaro Ramos is the founder of On Tracks, a brand of underwear and sportswear with an aesthetic that mixes homoeroticism and nostalgia: cotton t-shirts and briefs in solid colors, wrestling suits, boxer sets and crop tops ribbed. “Brands today are all about new models, designs and materials,” says Ramos, who instead wants to create a sort of modern vintage look for On Tracks. Advertisements for the brand show men’s bodies intertwined as if in a struggle, and muscular men in socks and athletic underwear.
Men have reached a point where they can express themselves personally through clothing, Ramos says. They “break with certain canons” of fashion and appearance and are not afraid to be themselves. On Tracks echoes the audacity of other contemporary men’s underwear brands, such as Leak NYC, Menagerie or even Wicked Mmm, which caters to all genders, their motto being: “Your gender expression is everything who counts”.
An open-minded approach that has also reached mainstream companies like Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty line which, according to The New York Times, launched its first menswear collection in 2020 and sold out in 12 hours. For the singer’s brand, portly, bald, or pot-bellied men (or all of it), pose in outfits that would once only have been seen on a Victoria’s Secret model: red breeches, semi-sheer shirts, satin halters.
When Tom Ford took over the reins of Gucci in the mid-1990s, he was known for putting the male body first. “I believe we live in a culture that objectifies women, draping them naked over anything she wants to sell,” Ford told Vogue in 2019. poster, there is a real phobia and everyone is outraged. I knew that nudity was controversial, but this sexist cliché had to be overcome. [sic]
From the male erotica of Ford’s Gucci campaigns, we now have this latest breed of men’s underwear brands, which emerged in reaction to an aesthetic that seemed to stick with Mark Wahlberg for Calvin Klein, his boxers overhanging denim or colored panties with their logo on the elastic. Álvaro Ramos says that “often we design clothes as something we should wear, period, but we forget that it can make us feel ourselves and even be part of a larger group”. “Being able to feel sexy is just another step on the way.”