Writer Corbin Chamberlin has always been at the center of big men’s fashion and lifestyle. Now, he’s bringing his extensive expertise to Conde Nast’s new LGBTQ+ focused publication them with a column called Bear in Mind. I talked to Corbin about his goals for the column and some of the many things still missing in men’s plus size fashion.
How did you get involved with them? I was a fan and avid reader before, but Phillip, the Chief Content Officer for them and Teen Vogue actually reached out to me with the idea. I met with Phil and Meredith, the Executive Editor and they had this idea for an ongoing column called Bear in Mind. Of course, I was so excited [to be part of this].
Can you talk about the idea behind Bear in Mind? I really want to focus on the stories and culture of bears and bigger men, and talk about fashion and the struggles that we face, not just in the LGBTQ+ community, but also for straight cis men. We’re going to do some stories about my favorite brands that cater to plus size men and we’ll touch on every part of the modern plus size man’s story from the very unique perspective that them can offer.
How often will you be writing Bear in Mind? My goal is 3 to 4 times a month.
We’re seeing brands, retailers and the world in general start to recognize that big men want the same things as everyone else out there.. What is still missing that you’d like to see offered to this community? Though there’s a lot still missing, there are a lot of great brands and a lot of up and coming talent I want to spotlight. I’ve met a ton of fantastic designers that have all the talent in the world and just need a little more exposure.
Speaking generally for plus size men, especially in the bear community, there’s so much that people identify with. I get emails from people who are like “god, I went to a bear bar and I was so disappointed because I find out that I’m not a bear, I’m a chub.” There’s so much lingo around what it means to be gay and chubby these days, and I really want to dissect that and talk about it. [In the column,] I’m going to dive into the bar scene in the bear and chub community, and everything surrounding that.
Honestly, I really would like to focus on giving people a platform. Fat men, their admirers and everything that surrounds this reader base. It’s so overlooked. You’ve done a wonderful job and there are some other great blogs too, but I feel very fortunate to be coming from a place like Conde Nast and being able to write these stories.
I think too often bigger men are portrayed as lazy, sluggish, sloppy, and gross. You and I both know that there’s this incredible, vibrant community of fat men out there who are anything but that.
That’s a side of things we don’t get to see often enough. The human side of what it means to be fat in this day and age. Yeah. I think too often bigger men are portrayed as lazy, sluggish, sloppy, and gross. You and I both know that there’s this incredible, vibrant community of fat men out there who are anything but that. I’m so thrilled to show a light on all that. Bigger men are often dehumanized and demonized by trends and society. Hopefully we can change that in our own special way.
Let’s talk about fashion! What are you wearing, what designers are you into right now? Full disclosure, I did do a marketing campaign with DXL, which I believe you did as well. It’s over now, but I’ve been wearing a ton of DestinationXL. They have Michael Kors, for example. He does special items just for them which are fantastic.
I’m in Arizona so I don’t have to worry about the weather too much. It’s been a lot of oversized black cashmere sweaters and Levi’s with Gucci leather shoes. Because, Bruce you know, I’m a dad and I’m constantly just running around and doing dad stuff. You’re a dad too, so you know how it is. It’s not always capes and caftans!
We’re starting to see more interest in luxury fashion for bigger men. More people are writing in to Chubstr about that and more people are buying the stuff. Are you seeing any high end brands that are catering to this plus size male audience? Obviously Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren, because they are so numbers driven. I don’t think there’s been enough effort at this point from mainstream designers to cater to this audience. You’re starting to see it with up-and-comers, but not big brands. It’s amazing – they’re hearing consumers ask for clothes and seeing that they want to spend money. I’m fascinated that there hasn’t been more work done in this area. Sadly, I can’t think of anyone off the top of my head who is accommodating larger sizes.
If they read one crazy story about my past struggles as a fat man and it can help them, then it’ll be all worth it.
This is the future. Hopefully those companies see the dollar signs and come around to creating more options. You look at brands that are making custom clothing, and they are just exploding because they can reach a wider audience. It’s just crazy to me that other people aren’t getting the message, but I do think it’ll change. My column is the perfect example of that kind of change. A fantastic company like Conde Nast is allowing me to write this because they know there’s an audience out there. People should take note – especially these brands.
What do you want readers to take away from Bear in Mind? This column is very personal to me. As I’m sure Chubstr does to you, it feels like a child. I’m so protective and I have so many plans and ambitions for this column. The biggest thing is that I hope there’s someone out there who can read my column and identify with it. If they read one crazy story about my past struggles as a fat man and it can help them, then it’ll be all worth it.
Read the first installment of Corbin Chamberlin’s new column, Bear in Mind, right here.