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Bare Beef, Manhattan Digest
Credit to: Geo Honaker for Vision Video Photography

I’m always on the lookout for the next great thing in gay brands, especially in the fashion industry. With the summer still in full swing for another month, many gay men are on the hunt for their last big vacation to take before the warm weather makes its exit and the brisk Fall weather makes its way in.  So why not try to find some really great fitted tees that show off your physique, have a great pop of color with some awesome and sexy graphics to go along with?  This is where Bare Beef Tees come along.

I discovered Bare Beef on Instagram actually, where that particular page alone has amounted to 6,000 followers in a short period of time.  Pretty impressive for any Instagram page.  The page is chock full of super hot beefy guys modeling some of Bare Beef’s signature and great tees for the masses to enjoy (including myself).  I was very curious to know more about how the brand came about and so much more, and got the opportunity to do so.  I sat down with owner Al Bare who told me more about the business, how his shirts are for men of all sizes, upcoming events, and so much more.  Take a look.

Credit to: Geo Honaker for Vision Video Photography
Credit to: Geo Honaker for Vision Video Photography

So how did the concept of Bare Beef tees start?

The idea of Bare Beef tees came about from several compliments and conversations shared with friends, followers and admirers regarding my artwork. It was our collective belief that there was a community out there that would both enjoy and appreciate fantasy images of bear and leather men on quality tees and tank shirts.

When it came to coming up with a name for them, how did you land on “Bare Beef”?

A friend and I were brainstorming with one another about a name that would both suggest and sort of be a twist for the word “bear” and the word “beef” to denote images of sexy muscular hairy-beefy–bare chested fantasy men. So we thought it was just a good marriage of words to come with Bare Beef as our company name. While there are numerous t-shirt companies geared for the bear community that featured cartoon oriented designs and phrases we however wanted our designs to feature actual images of beefy muscular guys.

Design wise; was there anything you drew inspiration on when it came to making the tees themselves?

As an artist, I drew upon images from tv, movie and photographic prints as well as everyday men I saw at the gym , bear events, clubs or just regular guys on the street with a strikingly handsome face or aspect about their bodies that I could draw and even enhance wherever i chose.

Credit to: Geo Honaker for Vision Video Photography
Credit to: Geo Honaker for Vision Video Photography

You use very bold and strong colors on your tees such as a sharp red and black for instance. Do you tend to shy away from a softer color palette due to the intensity in how the models wear the shirts?

Since the original drawings are grey from their inception and then outlined digitally, a lighter color palette would not necessarily provide as great of a contrast as it does with the bolder t-shirt colors. This way the bolder “colored fabric canvas” provides a backdrop that stands out more and shows off the artwork a little more prominently. As we continue to grow and designs become more varied we will very likely incorporate different color palettes accordingly for their respective designs.

Are these shirts designed for men of all sizes?

Currently our designs are available in Medium to XXXLarge sizes. Even though most of our customers are members of the bear community (bears cubs,otters,chubs) as well as the leather community, we have however more recently received many requests from smaller framed guys that we will of course be certainly fulfilling in the very near future.

What is your take on gay men’s fashion today. Do you find that it is a bit one note or do you think we are improving when it comes to body acceptance in the community overall?

When discussing body image acceptance as a whole within the gay community and all of its sub-cultures I personally believe that there is still need for improvement. The bear community has long been identified as one in which body image shape, size; etc has been much more accepting and less critical when compared to the other sub cultures. The other cultures have both promoted and continued to revere a more slender, fit contoured physique and thereby have not embraced nor been as accepting of fashions which were casual or otherwise.

Credit to: Geo Honaker for Vision Video Photography
Credit to: Geo Honaker for Vision Video Photography

You have amassed over 5,000 Instagram followers which is quite impressive. How were you able to build on that with your brand?

When the original idea came up to begin this line of tees and tanks we asked friends, acquaintances and models to wear a tank or tee and had a photographer take several provocative pics of the guys. Then, we slowly released the pictures one by one via Instagram exclusively and we gained an impressive following right from the start with the release of the first couple of pictures. From there it just grew and grew until the launch of the line in May. We have had several customers who have purchase a tee or tank then took a selfie of themselves in their tee or tank and then we posted those and received even more attention and more followers from those postings. We also try to keep up with our customers by liking and commenting on their posts.

Price-wise, what does an average Bare Beef shirt cost?

Industry-wise we are on the low end since some of the retailers actually sell their tees and tanks from anywhere $40-$50. Our tees are only $26.99 and tanks for only $24.99.

Do you have any events coming up with Bare Beef that my readers would like to know about?

Yes thanks very much for asking …International Bear Bash in Orlando, FL in September; Hibearnation in St. Louis, MO. in November; and North American Bear Weekend in Lexington,KY in February. There’s also a chance that we’ll have our shirts at the Mid-Atlantic Leather in Washington, DC in January although that is not yet confirmed. At each of those events, our line of tees and tanks will be available at the Vendor Market at the Torso Menswear booth.

Credit to: Geo Honaker for Vision Video Photography
Credit to: Geo Honaker for Vision Video Photography

What is your ultimate hope with the Bare Beef brand?

We hope to expand from just the line of tees and tanks and broaden the line to include items such as hats, underwear, shorts, swimwear or even gym bags. Ideally we’d like to see our line crossover into the other cultures and be worn by guys of all genres.

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