How long ago did you start International Jock?
International Jock was launched on April 1, 2000. (No fooling!) The website started with around 8 to 10 brands including Bike Athletic, Brute, Duke and others, most of which specialized in sportswear and gym gear. I started the business out of my house, but as we diversified and expanded our collections we moved to larger and larger warehouses. Over the years we’ve added several mainstream brands like Under Armour, Speedo and Hugo Boss, and we’ve also brought in unique and unusual collections like those from Gregg Homme and Modus Vivendi that I think our customers will find as interesting as we do. I believe International Jock now has the best variety of men's underwear and swimwear of any online store.
What motivated you to start an online men's underwear store?
I’ve had three careers in my life, first in the music business, then in the computer industry. I was fired from a job in 1999 and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I had a large collection of underwear and sportswear, and I noticed that no one on eBay (or the Internet in general, for that matter) was doing a very good job of selling men’s underwear. I saw an opportunity to do it better. So I put my own collections onto eBay and it was very successful. I began shopping all of the sporting goods stores and men’s specialty shops in Southern California and putting those up on eBay. Around that time it dawned on me that I could make a career out of this, and I looked into what it would take to launch a website. And the rest is history!
What makes International Jock different than any other underwear store?
I’ll explain by first backing it up a little bit. In the early 1980s, Calvin Klein was the very first designer to really eroticize men’s underwear, specifically men's briefs. Up until that point, men’s underwear wasn’t especially sexy – the garments were cheap and utilitarian and the focus was on comfort and hygiene, not sex appeal. Calvin Klein underwear changed all that with their then-controversial ads that shocked the world; the iconic image of Olympic pole vaulter Tomas Hintnaus posing in a white brief was up in Times Square and plastered on billboards and magazine pages. Two decades later, when we launched International Jock, no one had yet taken that sexy approach to marketing men’s athletic wear: jockstraps, wrestling singlets, compression shorts and so forth. That was our idea with International Jock – to take you inside the locker room.
You have seen countless styles and designs come and go in your store from jock briefs to lace underwear, and simple white or black underwear to vibrant neon colors. Do you have any predictions on what new trends we might see this year?
Trends in men’s clothing tend to originate with gay men, and then they are adapted by so-called “metrosexuals”, and then by straight men. In recent years we’ve seen the pendulum swing from loose, baggy, oversized clothing to skinny jeans, skimpier underwear and form-fitting clothing. We’ve seen men move from loose-fitting knit boxers, to body-hugging boxer briefs, to the shorter trunks. Briefs are making a comeback – they’re more popular now than we’ve seen in some time. It’s become more acceptable for men to wear tights; men’s leggings, or “meggings”, 3/4 length capris and tight-fitting yoga and workout clothes (like those made by Rufskin) are popular right now. Jockstraps, which were once solely used for athletics, have gone mainstream and have become a fashion item represented by designers like Diesel and Emporio Armani, for example. Men's thongs are also trending – you might be surprised to know how many men are wearing thongs under their business suits!
As we move into 2016, guys around the world (and women too, for that matter) have become more sexually liberated than ever before and their fashions reflect this. As sexual outcasts, gay men have always been unashamed to express their, shall we say, “kinkier” predilections, but that’s becoming less taboo for all men regardless of sexual orientation. In this post-“50 Shades of Grey” era, we have seen that even more men and their partners are eager to try on fetish type items, like those made of leather, mesh and lace, to explore and express themselves in and out of the bedroom.
What’s it like to work with the models who wear products by International Jock?
Finding the right models is one of the most challenging aspects of running a company like ours. We go through a rigorous casting and interview process to find male models that represent the kind of look we’re after: that of a a clean-cut, “all-American” jock. We’re very selective: our models must have the right face, the right torso, the right package, the right butt, and the right legs. But oftentimes our models are selective too: some are comfortable wearing skimpy, mesh and see-through clothing, and others are not and only wear modest cuts like board shorts and boxer briefs. So, we’re always trying to find guys that not only fit the look that we’re after but also match them up with garments they’re willing to wear. We’ve had models who will only wear what they consider to be “major” brands (Armani, Diesel, Calvin Klein, etc.), some who will only wear longer styles, and then, of course, there are our favorites – those who will wear anything! We thoroughly enjoy working with our models, and those who do a great job – and whom our fans enjoy – are invited back for new shoots over and over again.
Any big plans for the upcoming year?
We have plenty of surprises in store for the upcoming year. There are new brands we’re bringing in and a more diverse selection of product offerings to keep our customers happy and excited to shop with us. Our spring 2016 swimwear collections are arriving soon and are bigger and better than ever! We have new Diesel underwear and swimwear designs from Ca-Rio-Ca, Modus Vivendi, Hugo Boss and more in the pipeline. I encourage you to keep visiting International Jock because we’re constantly adding new products that we think our customers will really enjoy!