Summer is here and events are slowly beginning to return. If you’re a bigger man who sometimes struggles to find clothing in your size, what to wear by the pool or on the beach can prove a dilemma. Fortunately, there are an increasing number of brands out there wanting to ensure you look your best.
Meekos is a new brand launched this year by plus-size model Zach Miko, in conjunction with Indianapolis-based retailer KingSize. Miko is 6’6” and has a 40” chest, so he knows a thing or two about what big men look for when shopping for clothing. The Meekos range features swimwear (going up to 9XL), and other casual, poolside clothing options.
“I’m hoping to see Meekos on the butt of every big and tall guy on every beach in the country. I feel like even after years of being in this industry, big and tall men get such a short end of the stick that I wanted to create something that was just for us. For guys to celebrate who they are, have fun with one another, and be comfortable wherever they are in their body image journey,” says Miko.
Actor Daniel Franzese is already one celebrity fan.
NoRal Apparel is the creation of Kentucky-raised LaRon Hickerson (aka Ron DuWayne). He graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Fashion Design and launched NoRal Apparel back in 1999. He’s a keen advocate of body positivity and made it a central theme of his brand’s focus for 2021. This included a fashion show at the recent Big Boy Pride in Florida using some plus-size models. DuWayne, who is gay, creates and sews all his products himself.
“I’ve always been passionate about representation,” he tells GayCities. “Creating plus-size apparel and the use of plus-size models is essential to delivering this message. It feels good to create something one-of-a-kind, or in limited quantity that’s hand-crafted to all body types. The ability to dream and create is truly a blessing.”
After a decade making couture design, the gay, Iraqi-American designer Oday Shakar (below) made a kaftan for himself for fun and took photos of himself on his NYC apartment fire escape. So many people expressed love for it, he began to produce them commercially in April 2020. His brand, Kaftko, specializing in bright and colorful kaftans, was born.
The brand is trying to get away from labels and emphasizes that it is for all: “Enough labels. Enough barriers. Wear what you want and how you want it. Our kaftans are made for all: her, him, their-from golden years, adult, to small.”
Shakar branched out into swimwear in March. His eye-catching, colorful briefs, usual feature bold patterns. They can be matched with kaftans in the same design. Celebrity fans include Ross Matthews, who has collaborated with the brand to produce a Palm Springs-inspired print.
James David Adelman, Kaftko’s Chief Operating Officer, told GayCities. “Our swimsuits have been quite popular with the larger guys. I’m also one of the founders and am sometimes featured as the “plus” model you see on our website. I’ve never worn a brief before until we created one for ourselves.”
Bond Men by Truth Black
Bond Men – a “Truth Black” Alter Ego Experience, is an underwear and swimwear range from the clothing brand, Truth Black. It was launched earlier this year by Los Angeles-based designer Parker XL.
Pictured above is model @dretheecyborg wearing the Bond Men hybrid brief. The design, complete with a silver-finished clasp, are made from Nylon and Elastane, and can be worn as underwear or for swimming.
Parker is originally from Freeport IL but grew up in Minnesota. His clothing is for people of all sizes.
“My goal is to use body types that reflect the world we live in!” he tells GayCities. “Big, small, muscular , etc, I’m pro body positive. We should all love our body flaws and all.”
Estevez was founded nine years ago by Miguel Estevez, and is proudly “100% Colombian”, with all designs being created and produced in the country. Estevez says he started it, “as a dream when I was an illustration teacher at a fashion school here in Colombia.” It specializes in underwear, swimwear, and fetishwear for all, and is very aware that many bears favor its butt-hugging designs. Its bear-print designs are available in sizes up to 4XL.