Marco Morante is in vogue.
Currently seen on the Netflix reality series Next in Fashion — which allows you to buy the work of all the show's competitors — his gay-very-friendly underwear line, Marco Marco, has never been hotter.
I chatted with Marco about fashion, stand-out models, and how to overcome anything in a world where bots are ready to trash you for waking up in the morning ...
I've always said that Marco Marco is a go-to gay brand. (Image via OnlyFans)
Boy Culture: Hello, Marco — I'm a big fan of your underwear and have shot many guys in them. Which models come to mind as showing off your underwear to its best advantage? I was always fond of Steven Dehler's runway work/werk.
Marco Morante: Love the shots! Thanks so much for the interest and support.
Of course, I LOVE Steven — he has been one of my biggest supporters since the beginning. We met the very first time I tried to sell my underwear at an event and have been friends and collaborators ever since.
Ultimately, my goal is for the underwear to complement the wearer, so I think that everyone we've ever shot has brought a unique and important perspective to the brand.
What do you think it is about your underwear that has allowed you to survive and thrive in such a crowded marketplace?
I think people really connect with the Marco Marco vibe that we try to promote, but we also work hard to try and improve upon our designs wherever and whenever we can.
How do you think Instagram and other social media are driving sales, and in a broader sense shaping perceptions of masculinity, male fashion and sexuality?
Social media is an inescapable reality at this point, for better or for worse. We’re inundated with content, and with that comes a proliferation of positive imagery celebrating the subtleties of the male form, but an equal amount of outdated norms are still well intact. I think what’s important is not to cut people down or get rid of pre-existing notions of what masculinity is, but to simply widen the perspective, and bring more examples, options and opportunities to the table so that all people who feel the draw of masculinity can feel safe and excited to explore and express what that means to them in their own way.
I think it’s worth remembering, too, that social media is just the platform, but people are the ones using it, so it’s up to us content creators to make the important moves in this direction.
Please tell me all about Next in Fashion!
Season 1 premiered last Thursday on Netflix! NIF was really intense. It was like fashion boot camp for grown-ups. I loved it and I loved meeting designers from around the world that shared a lot of my same struggles. I’m excited for the exposure to an expanded audience that is new to my work.
How did you become involved with the show?
I was approached by their casting and although I was reluctant at first, I was familiar with their work and thought doing something like this with my good friend Ashton Hirota was worth a couple poles to the face.
Who were your design role models?
Aesthetically, I was always interested in futurist painters like Duchamp, and how to develop that type of graphic movement into a sewing technique. As far as fashion goes, I love '90s Galliano, Margiela, Owens.
What were some of your goals when you first became a designer?
Honestly, I just wanted to be my own boss and make things the way I wanted to make them. Eighteen years later, I feel like that’s still my everyday struggle! It’s one worth fighting for, and it’s been an amazing journey along the way.
Is there one item you've designed that you could point to as your crowning achievement, or just an important piece in your career/development?
I think opening my first store with my partner, Chris Psaila, in 2003 was a seminal moment for me. Having an actual space, with my brand name on it, where we could make and display whatever we wanted to however we wanted was a major motivator and really gave me the confidence to keep on truckin’!
You've worked with so many icons — which surprised you pleasantly the most?
I’ve always been surprised with how incredibly creative and unique each artist is. The process of creating something is unique and personal every time, my goal is always to express the creativity of their art form through the design.
What's been a major stumbling block or disappointment along the way that you've had to overcome, and how have you overcome it?”
I think the biggest hurdle any designer has to face over and over again throughout their careers is one of self-confidence. For everyone who loves your work, there is someone who doesn’t — and they are always louder. It’s a constant struggle to remind yourself why you do what you do and why your voice is relevant. I mean … there are 99 people in the room ... [Laughs]
Who is left who you'd LOVE to design pieces for?
What’s made me so excited about being on Next in Fashion is for people to see more as more than a “costume designer” and “underwear designer”, but simply as a designer with a perspective. I am excited to have the opportunity to explore fashion through this new lens!