Charles Jeffrey Designs Boxers for Björn Borg – We Look Back At The Most Memorable Men’s Underwear Campaigns
An oily buff male body, tensed to the max with the outline of every muscle on display. No, I’m not describing the latest in gay porn, even though you’d be forgiven to think so. As the world moves on at a fast pace, away from the archaic representation of female bodies, the universe of men’s underwear ads seems to still be stuck in that heteronormative Adonis ideal of a man. Do people that don’t look like gym gods wear no underwear? As one of those people, I can confirm we do indeed. Going commando ain’t an option when you’re sat behind the desk for the majority of the day. But you know what is? Charles Jeffrey’s brand new underwear line launching in collaboration with Bjorn Börg.
The Swedish sportswear and fashion brand has teamed up with our favourite Loverboy in creating a line of men’s boxer briefs you will want to have peeking out of your trousers or perhaps even wear one their own, as shorts. It’s the signature club kid aesthetic synonymous with Jeffrey’s work that comes through the forefront – a definite rarity when it comes to shopping for underwear. The moodboard was overflowing with imagery of Culture Club, The Mighty Boosh comedy act and David Bowie, and we can see all those people wearing the Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY x Björn Borg pants.
But what made us even more excited about this collab is the campaign, captured by art photographer Dexter Lander. Without an oiled-up six-pack in sight, the models represent Jeffrey’s genderfuck world where eccentricity serves as the pinnacle of style. Oozing with personality, the models not only sell you the underwear but also make you feel excited about wearing these. You can just imagine all the fun times you’d have with the squiggle-printed pants on. Or off. And that’s the kind of reaction you want from an underwear campaign. In celebration of Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY, we dug deep into the fashion archives to find all the men’s underwear campaigns that broke the mould of a straight lad brooding at the camera.
Before there were men’s underwear ads, there was Calvin Klein. This was 1992, and fashion was all about portraying an unreachable ideal of a model. Amazonian sueprs ruled, and then along came the waif beauty that is Kate Moss, joined by an up-and-coming musician. Marky Mark was the epitome of the rebellious kid, grabbing his crotch and playing a fool. Yes, he might have a visible six-pack, but he’s also got a personality.
Fast-forward six years, and Tom Ford is ruling the fashion world. With sex as his middle name, Ford’s tenure at Gucci was fruitful when it comes to iconic campaigns. One that made the boys wink was this AW98 one – a peachy vision of Renaud Tison in a pair of see-through knickers. Homoerotic doesn’t even cover it.
KRIS VAN ASSCHE
Speaking of homoerotic, it was designer Kris Van Assche that teamed up with cult gay photographer Jeff Burton on an ad campaign for his namesake brand back in the season of AW08. Following up on his show that saw models undress down to their plaid boxers in the middle of a laundromat set in Paris, Van Assche and Burton created a set of images that were beyond subversive in their gay storyline. Yes, technically this was a fashion and not an underwear campaign. But it certainly made us look twice. Perhaps even three or four times…
The following year, it was the queen of punk that rustled the feathers of the stern world of men’s undies. Photographed by Sean and Seng, the rebellious Vivienne Westwood man is shown in the buff, getting a buzz cut from his heavily tatted mate, wearing a pair of matching long johns. Love a good scenario.
When they launched their underwear line in 2014, Acne Studios did exactly what you’d expect from them. Unassuming skinny boys in flesh-coloured pants – it’s the Scandi fashion way to approach the culture of undressing. Long live the twink!
There were plenty a fabulous underwear moment as part of Raf Simons’ Calvin Klein, yet one clearly stands out as groundbreaking. In 2017, Willy Vanderperre photographed the cast of Oscar-winning Moonlight, as Mahershala Ali, Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes bared those iconic CK-logoed waistbands. Cinematic in its visual and emotional in the meaning, this was a moment to remember.
Joining in on the conversation, MSGM launched underwear this year. As part of a bigger move towards expanding the brand into activewear, Massimo Giorgetti undressed his men and women in classic monochrome undies, yet the campaign was anything but. Showing off a bit of kink, the models are seen sniffing on their own (or their partner’s?) knickers. The face of the men’s side is actually Leonardo Tano, model and son of famous Italian porn star and actor Rocco Siffredi. A throwback indeed.