While beefcake imagery like this is no longer unusual in mainstream media, this pairing in gay media particularly seems to convey their sexuality.
The campaign is the work of celebrity art photographer Bruce Weber and Sam Shahid, creative director of Shahid & Co., New York.
The two have worked together for 15 years, starting at Calvin Klein in 1981, where they helped win acceptance of the male body in mass media. They put up a larger-than-life billboard in Times Square of a muscled man in white briefs that became synonymous with Klein — a brand that now has tremendous currency in the gay community. Back then, the nearly nude male was considered taboo in a business that used women's bodies to sell most anything.
From there, Weber and Shahid moved to Banana Republic, where in 1992 they created a sensation with the "Free Souls" ad insert into Vanity Fair and have since found the most success with their work for Abercrombie & Fitch.
Many were upset when an article in New York magazine about the American version of controversial Brit hit "Queer As Folk" (aired in the US on Showtime) pointed out that the designer would not allow product placements in the show, along with other fashion brands Abercrombie & Fitch, Perry Ellis, Ralph Lauren, Prada, Anne Klein, Old Navy and Casio, along with the NFL and Pittsburgh Steelers. Some of the companies later claimed they were not asked and A&F said it never loans product for placements.