Style | Asian Bear Shirts // Massive + Opening Ceremony
A Clothing Line With More Beneath The Shiny Surface
Every few years, like a strange game of Whac-A-Mole, a certain topic springs up that sets the gay blogosphere on fire: guys who state they are not attracted to Asian men on social media. Back in the old days one would write that they were “not into Asians” on their Match.com dating profile, while nowadays it’s not uncommon to see a “No Asians” disclaimer on Grindr. This topic touches upon racism within the gay community and, rightfully so, many heated comments have been traded back and forth. Out.com has published long first-person accounts and sites like Douchebags of Grindr archive hilariously inappropriate screenshots, both platforms showcase how very WRONG this all is. Yet one thing seems to always get lost in the shuffle between the two poles of drawn out, non-defensive articles and quick quipping about racist absurdity, namely: the gay community should celebrate that Asian men can be handsome, masculine, and sexy.
A new clothing line aims to do just this. Opening Ceremony’s latest collaboration with Massive, purveyors of hyper-masculine gay Japanese erotica, is an eight-piece capsule collection that showcases the artwork of celebrated Japanese artist Jiraiya. The pieces featuring his photo-realistic depictions of thick-necked and handsome Asian fellows on a range of T-shirts, sweaters, shorts, and accoutrements. Pops of bright pink color ad other rich backdrops set the stage for the manly man. One shirt features a winking hunk that beckons you in front of a cedar forest so lush you might get lost in it. Opening Ceremony’s cache gives the line instant street cred and guarantees a wide reach. Its online launch, which features men of all races and types wearing the pieces against billowing pink smoke and eggplant purple backgrounds, provides instant eye candy that can’t be ignored.
Jiraiya is an artist acclaimed for his labor-intensive computer illustrations that pack a powerful one, two punch. His artwork unequivocally celebrates the beauty of Asian men, as well as those who are burly, muscle-bound, or heavyset. His drawings also depict happy couples and men grinning ear to ear, about to throw down. These images breath new life into gay culture, where the riskiest depiction of hand drawn sexuality is a Disney Prince with his shirt off and men who try so hard to look “masc” and serious that they often merely come across as solemn. Like Tom of Finland, Jiraiya channels a love of his own cultural heritage into something pleasing to the eyes that helps them—figuratively and literally—open up a bit.
And is it working? When the sexy Cazwell—the internet famous New York DJ and rapper behind the hit video “Ice Cream Truck”—posted a photo of himself in a tee gifted by Opening Ceremony, it immediately garnered nearly a thousand likes. Across Instagram, there are tons of photos of men of all races smiling as they show off their Opening Ceremony shirts with a great sense of pride. The Bear community in particular—gay men who love other big boned men—seem to especially like the line, which makes sense since the foundation of their culture is built on celebrating body types that don’t fit the gay mainstream. It’s interesting to note that most of the men taking these selfies are gay, showing off their love of the Asian men on their t-shirts to all of their followers, who—taking a wild guess—are probably also gay. What’s a better rebuttal to the nonsense of stating one isn’t attracted to Asian men online than celebrating beauty in all its forms with an action so simple, it’s like slipping on a T-shirt.