Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Nylon Gene Milestone Reached: 10,000+

Last week sometime, we passed an important milestone here at The Nylon Gene, and it nearly went unnoticed, since I had not been keeping close track of the cummulative total. Last week we had our 10,000th first time visitor to the blog since we began tracking on April 5th. We've been averaging more than 1400 per week.

I must say I am flattered by the feedback we've received here since we started out. It pleases me to see that there is as much interest out there as this number indicates. As it stands today, there have been 15,193 unique visitors to The Nylon Gene, comprised of 11,196 first time visitors and 3,997 returning visitors. While by far the largest number came from the United States, I am also pleased to see that 55% of our visits have come from overseas--75 countries to be exact.

We've seen the steady growth in returning readers over these past two months. It started out in the 20s or 30s of returning visitors each day, climbing to an average of 50 per day for the month of April. For the month of May, The Nylon Gene averaged 82 returning visitors per day. And, yes... that's even considering that it's dropped off ever so slightly in the past week or two because I have not been as prolific at posting as I had been earlier.

My apologies for that, readers, but I have been busily attacking the great iceberg that is the men's legwear market. That has left me little time for writing new blog posts. But, I plan on rectifying that. In fact, I even have several partial ones floating out there in blog limbo--waiting to be finished and posted. So keep on the lookout and I'll be sure to get some new content out there for you.

To conclude, thank you readers for visiting (and commenting). I hope to keep the content fresh enough to keep turning many of you first time visitors into returning visitors... and of course, into ActivSkin customers!


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Discussing Legwear Over a Couple of Beers...

I know everyone probably thinks that it's just work, work, work, here at The Nylon Gene, and over at ActivSkin. But we also know how to stop and take time to enjoy life along the way, too.

The week before last I received an e-mail from one of our loyal customers that live in Central Ohio, inviting me to meet for a beer sometime soon. Not being at all adverse to barley-flavored liquid refreshments, I agreed to meet at a local wing establishment enroute between Granville (ActivSkin HQ) and my home. Before I arrived, Harold had already already earned a free beer by betting our waitress that the next guy in the door would be wearing pantyhose.

No, actually, he had told her that he was meeting a guy who was actually working on making sheer hosiery a regular part of menswear. I don't think she believed him at first, but now I understand the look of recognition when I got there and she saw what I was wearing. She had some questions about why men would buy and wear hosiery, and all-in-all thought it was a pretty cool concept and hoped we're successful with it.

It is certainly instructive to see how little attention is paid (i.e., none) to you by others when out in a public setting, dressed (admittedly) as unsually as we both were. I doubt that anyone could tell that Harold was wearing sheer hose, as they were beige and a good match for skintone. However, I tend to wear darker shades, especially since I am in the business of trying to promote the legwear concept, so anyone who cared to look could easily tell what I was wearing. Again, and as usual, nobody thinks much of it. Although we may not be at the point where most guys are ready to give legwear a try, it's not far behind the level of public aquiescence I see when I go places wearing legwear that can be easily seen by all.

Anyways, we had a good time discussing the current status of men's legwear in general, ActivSkin in particular, and a wide variety of current events and so forth. Hope to do it again some time...


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What Should We Call Men's Legwear?

ActivSkin Sheer Tights[NOTE: Results of the June 16th Poll on this question can be found by clicking this link] I've been mulling over what would be a good generic name for men's legwear for some time, but there's no answer that's blatantly obvious. So I'd like to put the question out there for the readership of The Nylon Gene, for your consideration.

As the popularity of the burgeoning trend continues to spread, slowly but surely it will start to come up against the obstacle presented by its name, "pantyhose".

Of course, that's the name that's been used to describe sheer, stretchy, nylon/lycra blend garments worn on the lower body for about 50 years now. But for some reason 'pantyhose' just doesn't really fit the bill for many guys. Why? One reason is because the word is strongly associated (at least in the U.S., if not in the U.K.) with a garment that's been almost exclusively associated with women's wear for all but the last 10 of those 50 years. That word connotation is not easily undone in some men's minds. It seems unavoidable to always add the qualifier 'mens' in front of it.

But that can't be the only reason that 'pantyhose' doesn't seem like the right word. If it were, then we would've encountered the same issue when women began wearing pants in large numbers in the 1940s. Why wasn't there an unspoken need to find another word to describe pants when it was women who were now wearing them?

Maybe the reason 'pantyhose' presents an obstacle to wider acceptance as a word to describe what men have begun wearing for their own is because it has the word 'panty' at front of it. Men don't wear panties, do they? At least not that they would let on to anyone else. Men wear briefs, or boxers, or shorts (as in undershorts), or tighty-whiteys... and OK, I guess they also wear thongs and bikini underwear, but we'll leave that be for now.

Lately, with the media coverage that has picked up on the legwear trend in the past few years, the tag 'mantyhose' has frequently been used to describe what we're wearing on our legs these days. Although I don't personally care for this name too much, I too have used it from time to time. The reason I don't care for the name 'mantyhose' is because it just sounds sort of silly. Can you be taken that seriously if you tell someone about the 'mantyhose' you're wearing that day? Besides, it's just another in the long succession of trends that men have adopted of late from women, that the media so creatively coins a name for by cleverly adding or substituting an 'm' in front of the former name. We've all had to endure reading about 'murses', 'mirdles', 'meggings', man-bras (still can't figure that one out--the product, not the name), and so forth. 'Mantyhose' is just another manifestation of these silly malappropriations.

Then, there's 'legwear'--which is the name ActivSkin uses to refer to it's product. Of course, the name 'activskin' itself could make its way into the lexicon, the same way 'kleenex' and 'xerox' went from being brand names to being the generic word used to describe what these market leaders so firmly established in the cultural context. Setting the brand name aside for the moment, 'legwear' is probably a leading candidate for the generic word to use to describe the nylons we're wearing. It's broad enough in meaning to cover everything from sheer hosiery to opaque tights. On the other hand, the meaning associated with 'legwear' may be too broadly defined for our purposes. In addition to tights and pantyhose, 'legwear' can also refer to socks, and maybe even leggings in some circles. So, there are drawbacks to using the term 'legwear', too.

'Tights' is another term that's used quite a bit. This is what the British call what we in the U.S. refer to as pantyhose. This can give rise to confusion when Americans and Brits have a conversation about nylon legwear. If one of them uses the name 'pantyhose', everyone knows what he/she is referring to. If the American says 'tights', he or she may be referring to the opaque legwear that we on the west side of the Atlantic call by that name. Or, they may be referring to pantyhose, but using the British terminology for the benefit of their conversation partner. How do the British distinguish between opaque tights and sheer pantyhose? They generally just add the term 'sheer' in front of 'tights', as in 'sheer tights'. And, maybe that's what we ought to adopt over here also.

If we called all men's legwear 'tights' and used 'sheer tights' to describe what might now be called 'mens pantyhose', it would be sufficiently clear to the listener, and would also lend itself to more masculine sensibilities. I will say, I do like this alternative. 'Mens tights' or 'mens sheer tights' sounds somewhat less jarring to the unitiated ear than 'mens pantyhose', or 'mantyhose'.

What other options are there? What about say, 'brief-hose'? It eliminates the uncomfortable-sounding 'panty' from the front of the word and substitutes the more male-friendly 'brief'. This, of course, conjures up more palatable images of the kinds of underwear guys are accustomed to wearing. In fact, the waist/hip portion of most full-length hosiery is shaped more like a man's brief than a woman's panty--except for those French-cut lacy ones that a few of the women's brands use. All the ActivSkin products that have a reinforced top use one shaped like a brief. Is 'briefhose' to far out of the ordinary to be accepted? Does it sound contrived?

I don't know if 'boxerhose' would ever make it, and I'm quite sure that 'tighty-whiteyhose' would be DOA. What else is left? Shorthose?... Nah, sounds like we ordered the wrong size or something. 'Men's nylons'? Men's stockings'? Once again, it would be nice if we didn't need to qualify the word by putting 'men' on the front end. Also, although some people use the word 'stockings' to describe waist-length legwear, my mind can't help but associate this word with the 3/4 length, or thigh-high, legwear that is often used with garters to hold them up. It doesn't fit with what we call pantyhose and tights.

Here's where I ask for reader feedback. Post a comment, or write an e-mail, and tell me what your suggestion is for what we should call men's legwear. If I get a good range of suggestions and commentary, maybe I'll post an online survey on The Nylon Gene where we can ask everyone to vote for their preferred terminology for men's legwear. Since it's my firm belief that we're on the verge of a tipping point in the growth of this market, we should come up with a good generic word to describe it before something else becomes too difficult to firmly engrained in our cultural mindset.


10-Year Anniversary Sale

Comfilon's ActivSkin

Steve Katz, the president of ActivSkin, has sent the following letter to all of our customers, offering a 10% discount in honor of our 10th Anniversary...

Dear ComfiLon's Activskin Customer,

Ten years! At the very end of April in 1999, we announced our men’s line of legwear, much to the amusement of the naysayers who said it would be a short-lived venture. We were a dot-com at the height of the dot-com craze. But where are some of them now? We’re still here and going strong.

We started with just 2 product styles – A849 and A549, which are still with us and have been our flagship products ever since. We’ve expanded greatly over the years and we now offer over 70 different styles of legwear, loungewear, underwear, sleepwear, and intimate wear. We have listened to our customers, developed products they wanted, and we’ve all reaped the benefits. It’s been a great ride so far! Thanks for being part of it.

We’re still continuing to innovate and stay in the lead position. We have several products in the works that should be announced in the next couple of months as they become available. We’re also working on a major renovation to the web site to make it more amenable to showing so many styles.

In honor of ten years online, we’re going to celebrate! Throughout the rest of May, take 10% off your purchase with the promotion code TENPCT. Use that code when checking out. There is a minimum order of 3 items, and the promotion is just for Internet orders, not good for phone or mail orders. It applies to every product we sell, so now’s the time to take advantage of some savings and get some great merchandise.

Until next month -


Steven Katz
G. Lieberman & Sons, Ltd.
P.O. Box 193, Granville, Ohio 43023 USA
Phone 877-587-2860 (toll free in US/Canada)
Phone 740-587-2860 (elsewhere)


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mantyhose on TV - NBC News, Arizona

What did everyone think of the video I had posted at the top of the righthand column? Kinda annoying, right?

I liked the video itself, but the annoying part was how it loaded and ran EVERY time you clicked on any comments, went to another post, etc. Sorry for that annoyance... now I'm just including the link within this particular post. It was a little experiment, but I couldn't quite figure out how to have it appear but not start playing until you clicked on the 'play' button.

As for the content, I'm not sure how old this video is--I think it may have run back in January of this year, possibly. But, it could be newer. It's got some elements that are complimentary and some that are derisive to men wearing hosiery, or 'mantyhose'. Although there was plenty of snickering, the male anchor DID say that he had them on right then, and I don't think he was joking when he said it.

The SNL (Saturday Night Live) parody is funny. For those who haven't seen it, it followed closely after Good Morning America did a spot on men's pantyhose, and Kathy Lee had a package of ActivSkin on air with her, although never identifying it by name, and proceeded to make fun and ridicule it. The interesting thing is that when SNL parodied it the following weekend, they didn't make fun of mantyhose, they made fun of Kathy Lee, in a big way. The really funny thing was, it was hard to tell which was the spoof and which was the real thing.

I'll have to post that on here, so everyone who's not had the benefit of seeing it can see what I'm talking about. For now, here's the Arizona NBC News segment, permantently embedded on this blog page.


Friday, May 8, 2009

A Competitor Incorporates Sheer Material

I ran across an item on the 'PH Balanced' blog, regarding tights-maker CW-X marketing a style of running tights that incorporate sheer panels on the leg to provide partial ventilation during exercise. Although a competitor of ActivSkin, we certainly take notice of what everyone engaged in the sale or manufacture of legwear for men is doing these days, and acknowledge when we see a good idea. It would seem that sheer material is starting to peek out from other established athletic apparel companies. Maybe someone is taking note of our efforts to promote sheer legwear for men.

Strictly speaking, ActivSkin and CW-X are targeted toward different users in the athletic arena, and so would not technically be considered competitors anyways. CW-X makes very high-end tights that use strategically placed bands to support joints and muscles in a specifically targeted way. While they seem to be a very good product, this level of performance comes at a price--around $100 and up.

ActivSkin full-support tights and sheer legwear provide non-targeted support more-or-less uniformly over the entire leg, in a slightly graduated compression that increases from thigh to ankle. The sheer styles also provide ventilation to the entire leg, rather than just specific areas. They are priced between $10 and $18 a pair.

ActivSkin Sheer Styles provide 100% leg ventilationWhile the targeted tension bands seem to be a useful innovation--albeit pricey--when it comes to ventilation we believe cooling the entire leg with a sheer material is preferable for runners and other athletes. I myself am a regular runner, although far from a competitive one. I wear ActivSkin sheer legwear when I go out for a run on cold mornings. (Of course, none of the current range of styles are intended to be worn without bike shorts or other running shorts). When I do, they provide enough insulation to ward off the chill that could lead to cramps. Yet, when I'm finished running--after the sun's higher in the sky, the birds are singing, and I'm sweating up a storm--I'm not overheated because the sheer nylon/spandex material breathes and cools while the perspiration evaporates. I also wear them when it's not so cold, as they provide leg compression without overheating on all but the hottest days.

I wonder if sheer leg panels is a transitional step in the process of eventually providing running tights for men with fully sheer legs--like those currently offered by ActivSkin. We see the state of the men's legwear market definitely moving in that direction, since we have been in the midst of it since the beginning.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Durability of ActivSkin

We get questions from potential customers about the durability of ActivSkin legwear from time to time. Yesterday, when I worked the polls was no exception. Two of the ladies with whom I spent the day working asked if they run as easily as women's hosiery. I answered that, while no hosiery is 'run-proof', we tend to think or our ActivSkins as being more durable than many of the women's hose you might buy in the drugstore for instance. Little did I know that I would get a chance to demonstrate it later in the day.

One of the most overlooked hazard to hosiery is the dreaded stackable metal chair. You know the kind I'm talking about. They usually have vinyl padded seats and metal frames that allow them to be stacked for easy storage in multi-purpose rooms. We were using these while sitting at the registration tables in the precinct on Election Day.

Early in the afternoon, I was sitting in one that I hadn't sat in before and had my feet pulled up under the chair as I leaned forward to write. Suddenly, I could feel some jagged metal shavings tugging at the back of my leg. When I looked down, it looked like I had escaped the inevitable shredding of my ActivSkin A677s. But, that wasn't the final word... a short while later I happened to notice two holes in the back about the diameter of my little finger. D*MN! a nearly new pair sacrified for American democracy in action!

Why is this a demonstration of ActivSkin durability? Because, there's not a pair of hose on the planet that would withstand the jagged metal edges of a stackable chair--including my A677s. What was great to see was that a pair of giant runs did not race from the top and bottom of my leg for all of Precinct 4E and 4F to see. In fact, they didn't run at all for the rest of the day and evening. The only reason any run shows at all in the photo above is because I put them back on the following morning just to snap a photo before consigning them to the 'demo' bin.

Just remember: Past performance is no guarantee of future returns, and your experience may differ.


Will 'Mantyhose' Make Oprah's List of Favorite Things?

We know Oprah wore them to the Inauguration back in January, so we can't help but wonder if Ms. Winfrey thinks highly enough of the idea to include them on her seasonal 'List of Favorite Things'. You say you didn't know she wore men's pantyhose to the Inauguration? You say you thought she hated wearing pantyhose in the first place?

Well, it was easy to miss, but picked up on it and included the news in their summary of celebrity reactions following the ceremonies back on January 20th. To see for yourself, go to this link: Oprah, Jay-Z, Pete Wentz & More React To Obama’s Inauguration and scroll down to the fourth paragraph. I've reprinted the text here:

"I’m front and center and frozen and happy,” Oprah said. “I’m layered and
I’m wearing something called men’s pantyhose. I got hot chilies
in my hand and hot chilies in my boots!”

At the time, I wasn't completely surprised to learn that Ms. Winfrey was wearing 'mens pantyhose' because we had hoped to be making an appearance on her show as part of a panel discussion on the trend around that time. I believe she may have been doing some product research with some ActivSkin samples that may have been sent her way. Unfortunately, at the last minute some breaking news bumped the plans for the show and it has not been rescheduled.

We know Oprah does not like wearing pantyhose (although she did take quite a liking to Sarah Blakely's Spanx footless products) and she was eager to pose the question to guys like myself and other participants: just why would men want to wear something that she hates wearing so much? We continue to hope that the show may be rescheduled some time in the future, but have thus far not heard anything more.

Maybe I've done too good a job with The Nylon Gene blog in explaining all that, and so she thinks the show's a moot point now (he says, tongue-firmly-in-cheek). Well, I certainly hope not. In case you're reading this Oprah, I'd love nothing better than to have the opportunity to share all those reasons in person with you and your viewers.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Did You Vote Today?

Bet many of you forgot that today is Election Day. I didn't... but it was mainly because I'm working at the polls today. It's Oh-Dark-Thirty right now, and I'm getting ready to go out the door to get there in time to work as a paper ballot judge for the off-year primary that's being held today--at least in Ohio.

I've worked two previous elections, and I got a call last month from the Board of Elections to help out, so here we go. These are probably the lightest attended elections, so I'm being sure to bring reading material. I can't believe I'm actually up early enough to write something for the blog today.

So, if you're in Hilliard and voting at the Senior Center (Precinct 4-D, I believe) keep an eye out for the guy wearing dark brown hose and an 'ActivSkin' shirt. If you see me, say "Hi", and thanks for doing your civic duty.

[UPDATE:] I've added a photo from Tuesday. As you can see, turnout was light--about 10% of registered voters, which was about what was expected for the off-year elections with few candidates or issues on the ballot. We certainly had a lot of time to chat about just about everything.

One of the comments below asked if anyone made any comments about the legwear. Surprisingly, given that I was wearing dark brown (Style A677), most people did not realize I was wearing hose, until I made mention of it myself. As in the photo, in some cases I had to show I was in fact wearing hose by tugging on the nylon. Up to that point, most thought I just had a dark tan on my legs. Men who wear hosiery that are shy about it should take note of this, as well as the fact that when friends and associates learned of it, they thought it was 'pretty cool.'

Since my mission is to publicize men's legwear, I took the opportunity to share the concept with my fellow election officials (two of whom are pictured with me) as well as those friends and acquaintenances I encountered during the day. As I said above, without exception, I encountered a very warm reception to the idea as I described it to them. Most everyone has plenty of ideas for areas where I might find applications for men's legwear. To all those who've offered me suggestions, I offer my sincere appreciation. I'll be looking into many of those if I haven't already begun doing so.

Our precinct was located in the local senior center. I'm exploring the opportunity with the director to possibly give a presentation of some sort to the seniors on the health aspects of wearing support hosiery for men. I think 'health fairs' of this sort (not strictly directed toward seniors) can be a valuable venue for getting the word out about the latest developments in men's legwear.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

High School Entrepreneur Team is 'Sheer' Winner

Big-Toed MantyhoseI picked up a story from Culpepper, VA yesterday on my newsreader about a team of high school students who won top place for a 'mantyhose' product they came up with for an entrepreneurial competition.

The article, entitled "CCHS Students Sheer Winners" describes how this team of six students "developed products and pitched business ideas to area professionals" and were selected as the top team from among five finalists in the Entrepreneurial Energy (or, E-Squared) competition held by the local Chamber of Commerce. The winning product was called "Big-Toed Pantyhose" and a secondary one--which caught the attention of my newsreader--was "Big-Toed Mantyhose."

The somewhat awkward-sounding name comes from the design idea of having a separated big toe portion at the foot, allowing the user to wear them with thong sandals. The mantyhose version comes in camouflage and is intended for men to wear while hunting or camping in the woods.

Naturally, I have a keen interest in such a story as this, aside from the admiration for these bright young minds that will be entering the workforce in coming years. I would like to point out to my readers that the fact this team can win a major competition (with $30k in scholarships awarded to them, no less) using an idea that incorporates male legwear into the core concept is yet another example of how public perceptions are continuing to evolve. As we have discussed in many and varied ways here at The Nylon Gene, general acceptance of men wearing nylon hosiery is becoming the default position. These students seem very sharp, and their work involved interviewing local business professionals to gain feedback on product viability (they must not have been aware of ACTIVSKIN, as they did not contact us). In any case, they were obviously not met with derisive comments at the prospect of a men's pantyhose product.

As for the 'big toe' design feature, we have not seen a demand for this on our products as yet, but who knows? If people start wearing hose with thong sandals (which has not been much in evidence thus far), it could be a very prescient idea. In fact, there is a company called ToeHose that makes such a product for women.

Of course, readers will inevitably ask, "Is ACTIVSKIN going to be selling camouflage legwear?" "Is there any ongoing research into this at the massive Granville 'Skunk Works'?" To which my answer would have to be, "I can neither confirm nor deny such activity is taking place."


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