How The ’70s “Clone” Look Paved The Way For The Queer Clothing Of Today

Every historical social scene has had its uniform. But when one particular look cropped up in the post-Stonewall gay scene of the 1970s, it was so popular—and so distinct—that the guys who sported it were dismissed as “clones.” Inspired by archetypes like cowboys and bikers, the clone look was all about denim, plaid shirts, bomber jackets, and t-shirts, with a body-conscious bent. Like the Marlboro Man…if he happened to be into other Marlboro Men. The clone was born in the hyper-stylized worlds of porn centerfolds from prolific companies like Colt Studio, but quickly emerged into the real world. (The look was also known as the “Castro clone,” nodding to its likely origins in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco before spreading to New York City and elsewhere.) And while the nickname was initially pejorative, the clone period marked perhaps the first time that gay men presented themselves with a queer-signaling uniform that was a direct response to societal stereotypes. You can draw a direct line from the clones of yesteryear to Lil Nas X’s wild red carpet fits, along with much of the output of the latest generation of queer designers. Read more at GQ.