Garçon Model is a Canadian-based underwear brand. It started in 2013 with a mission to bring men’s underwear up to date with other areas of men’s fashion. Just because it’s an undergarment, doesn’t mean the choices need to be limited, right?
And the male underwear market is big business these days. According to a 2015 report published by Persistence Market Research, the male underwear market is well on it’s way to becoming a USD $20 billion (with a B) industry by 2020.
Now if you’re selling underwear, it’s only logical that you will be employing models wearing said underwear to display the goods you’re selling. And herein, some potential issues begin to emerge. As we all know, sex sells. And the kind of sexy images directed towards gay men usually tend to be of young, fit and predominantly white guys. Not exactly a bastion for promoting diversity, right?
I’ve written numerous times on this blog about the need to widen our definition of what we consider attractive or beautiful to better incorporate guys of all shapes, sizes and colours. But I’m also wise to the ways of business. Businesses need to do whatever they can to stay afloat. It’s not necessarily up to them to be change agents. They often times, simply reflect what their customers want – or what they think their customers want.
I’ve experienced this anecdotally myself on the blog as well. If I promote an article on social media using an image of a “typically attractive”guy(young, fit, white), the post tends to get a mush better response then when I use an image of a less fit guy, or an older guy or an ethnically diverse guy. It sucks – but that seems to be the current reality.
Now I don’t make any money off the blog. This gives me more freedom. I am happy to forgo post likes and page views in order to use an image, or wording, that truly reflects what I am thinking and what I am wanting to express. But if this was my business, my sole source of incomes for instance, I’d have to make a hard choice between money or morals.
Which brings us to Garçon Model. They are a business and they need to make money. Based on what it is that they sell, underwear, they employ models to showcase their product. Unlike other brands in this industry, I’ve noticed that they do go some ways in utilising a diverse range of models. There are guys of different ethnic and racial backgrounds, guys with body hair and guys with tattoos. Interestingly, not too many unfit or older guys though.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with the team from Garçon Model about some of these issues. Here’s what we discussed:
Little Gay Blog – Thank you for your time. How important is reflecting diversity to Garçon Model, and how do you balance that with potentially competing commercial and financial interests?
GM – In the context of this increasingly divided society, we feel it is our duty to be an agent of change. We believe in our very core in equality and diversity and in our mind it shouldn’t even be something to think twice about. We are simply doing what feels right regardless of any commercial motivations or risk factors.
Who is a typical Garçon Model customer, and what’s some of the most common feedback you get from your customers?
Garçon Model’s customer base is constituted of modern men from all horizons but united by their love for forward fashion and progressive thinking. To wear Garçon Model you have to be ready to break free of the conformity of the current fashion normative model and be open to express yourself in bold and colourful ways.
We know our customer base pretty well from chatting with them on social media and through constant feedback with our customer service department and everyone has nothing but supportive comments to pass on.
Why do you think showcasing diversity (when it comes to appearance at least) is still the exception rather than rule in the general fashion/modelling world?
Let’s face it, the fashion industry is still extremely conservative. Everything is compartmentalised and very few are ready to defy the status quo. Money is also the main driver which makes people in charge even more wary of changes. It takes the new generation to break these archaic clichés and create a world of our own image.
What role would you like Garçon Model to play in shaping gay guy’s self-esteem and body acceptance?
Everyday, the industry is trying to sell us this unrealistic image of the world which revolves around perfection and money. But we think nowadays, people are craving real values like equality, fairness and compassion, and we’re with them.
The recent Orlando tragedy just proved it to us even more. We’re not quite out of the woods yet, and we need to stick together which means embracing and supporting each other.
Garçon Model showcases, in my own opinion, a pretty good mix of guys. But I’d like to know, would you ever use a model that a) isn’t muscly and doesn’t have a six pack and b) is older, say over 40? Why/why not?
We’re still a young company but we have big plan for the future. We are committed to celebrating everyone’s beauty and sexiness. We created a selfie contest, where we reward all body types. More great stuff will also definitely come as we grow.