I'm not sure why, but for some reason, (I think it's because I subscribe to Men's Vogue, and someone is clearly on top of their demographics), but a brand new International Male catalog has found its way back into my mailbox. Completely unsolicited, I swear.
Of course, back in the day, I had less pride and more desperation. I'd see the ads in Rolling Stone, seductively calling me.
Who could resist?
Two things I wanted to be.
I was mortified afterwards, but, hey, you did what you had to do. It was A Different World (from where you come from) then.
They pretty quickly stopped sending them, however. They realized I wasn't going to buy anything. They knew what was up. Even back then, I knew the clothes were ridiculous, but who was looking at the clothes? It was proto porn, and they knew it.
I hadn't seen a one in decades, until it showed up in my mailbox.
Glancing through my brand new 2008 edition of the International Male catalog, past the poly-metallic satin shirt/tie combos, past the nehru jackets and pinstripes, past the nouveau pirate shirts, past duster coat after duster coat after duster coat, past the formal gauze overalls, I was stopped cold in my tracks.
It's a photograph that I know, a photograph I've memorized from nearly 20 years before. I would recognize this Marcus Shenkenberg-at-half-price anywhere:
Of course, the entire catalog can transport you to 1990. That's its beauty.
Compared to the other "fashions" this is pretty standard, nothing too avant garde or flamboyant. It's an IM classic it seems.
I note that the underwear section has shrunk, oddly enough. Even the models' crotches have shrunk, and they're shot headlessly, and almost torso-lessly.
I mean what's the point? They've taken everything that was pure and beautiful about the catalog and destroyed it.
It's very sad.
I was just about to toss it in the trash, when I read that the company is set to fold soon. This might just be one of the last catalogs ever. Not a surprise, of course, but still kind of sad.
But then recycling photos and going soft on the underwear shots are just not good strategies for any business, are they?
The Tyranny of Hairdressers - McCall's Magazine, January 1966.