On a June night during New York's Pride Week, a rowdy crowd dressed in S&M-esque pajamas gathered on the roof of The Standard, High Line. Though many may have chatted on Grindr, the app brought them all together in person that night to celebrate gay pride.
This year, Grindr--the app that uses geolocation to connect men with other men nearby--has been experimenting with different ways to bring users together off screen for a common cause. Earlier in June, Paper Magazine used the app to source models for a Grindr-inspired photo shoot. And in January the app live-streamed a J.W.Anderson runway show from London.
Now, as part of its move to be more than just a meat market, Grindr has launched a menswear line in partnership with design studio Paint All Over Me. Released in time for the 2016 Summer Olympics, all profits will be donated to fight homophobia and transphobia in sports through a campaign called Principle 6, which was started by nonprofit Athlete Ally to oppose Russia's anti-gay laws before the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
"We started out wanting to find a way to help the charity," says Landis Smithers, Grindr's creative director. "It was perfect timing with the Olympics, and given our network and ability to reach people, it was a fun way to do it."
The Varsity Collection is made up of vintage-inspired athletic wear like windbreakers, swim trunks, mesh tops, and jockstraps, and is on sale on Grindrstore.com and PAOM's website with prices ranging from $25 to $130.
"We're not looking to become Zara," Smithers says. "I plan on doing this in the future because it is a good way to combine fun and a good cause, but we have no motive to stray from our core mission."
Designs include illustrations of a Greek bust paying homage to Greek Olympic spirit, says Smithers, who describes the print as having a "young Marc Jacobs vibe." A pattern made out of men's bodies--divers and wrestlers--gives the effect of camp and, once deciphered, a jumble of letters spell out 'shoot, harder, score.'
"A sports pun with a sex twist," says Smithers, "it's hard to resist."