Below, I've listed six major areas where men who are so inclined can help. Women are certainly welcome, too. We need your thoughts and support as well. Try to draw on your collective unconsious and remember the struggles your mothers or older sisters had to overcome before wearing pants was considered to be as much a woman's outfit as a man's...
As part of my role with ACTIVSKIN, I have become, by default, one of the primary voices in support of the idea that support tights or sheer hose ought to be as well suited for men as for women. There are others like myself who are also on the leading edge of things, such as Chan Kraemer of e-MANcipate.net, Steve Katz the founder of our company, and many others of whom you may not recognize the names.
However, for every one of us, there are many others who are wearing their legwear and going about their daily lives--promoting/advocating simply by their presence with others, who can then see this trend is more than just the pet project of a few guys who like wearing nylon legwear. And, for each of them there are probably hundreds more who wear legwear, but aren't comfortable with others knowing of it, and so wear it only beneath trousers and socks. As our publicity work at ACTIVSKIN continues to educate and inform the public through media attention, more of these men are setting aside their fear of teasing or ridicule and letting it be known to friends, family and colleagues that they too wear this new unisex garment. And, as I can personally atest, those responses of friends and colleagues are generally overwhelmingly positive. So, with no more ado I've listed below the things that YOU can do to help us continue towards our goals:
1. Although our sales data tells us there are many of you guys out there wearing our legwear, we would like to let others, especially our media contacts, know there are more of you out there. We have a few of our contacts who have indicated a willingness to be identified in an article or interview as a man who wears legwear, but we can use many more. One of our customers was set to come to Columbus to participate on the 3rd Daytime Columbus appearance, but business travel plans negated that at the last minute.
As I continue to act as the de facto spokesman for men's legwear in the U.S., I would like to have other voices at my disposal as well. When opportunities for interviews for publications or TV interviews arise, it is valuable to have a group of guys who are willing to participate on short notice, to provide quotes, be photographed, etc. If you are willing to do so please contact me through my email (see link near top of right-hand blog column). Send me your contact info and a message indicating your willingness to do ______ (be quoted, be photographed, appear on TV, etc.) Don't worry about the details of having to travel somewhere, etc. All that's really important right now is knowing I have a ready resource for finding guys willing to step forward and be heard or seen. We'll work out whether it is logistically viable on a case-by-case basis. Also, it would be helpful if you included a brief bio on who, where, how long you've worn legwear, for what reasons, etc. (also a photo would be helpful). I'll keep it on file for future use.
2. Keep doing what many of you are already doing. That is, wear legwear visibly and confidently as you go about your daily activities--especially while there are still many days of warm weather before winter. Try to wear shades that will be noticeable, too. It doesn't do much good if you wear it, "and no one even noticed." Of course, that's fine if that's all you want to do--no one's criticizing--but it won't do much to advance the mainstreaming of men's legwear if no one realizes you have it on.
3. While wearing hosiery in noticeable shades, strike up conversation with others when appropriate. It doesn't have to be immediately about your legwear. Don't shy away from people paying attention to what you have on your legs. It's still a fairly new trend, so you would expect people who first notice you're wearing nylon legwear to scrutinize closely--if for no other reason than to confirm they're really seeing what they think they are. Most won't take the next step and approach you to ask why you're wearing legwear. If you happen to be engaged in a conversation with them, it may provide the opportunity to address their curiosity. So, be prepared to share your reason for wearing them--whether it be for leg health, occupational factors, sports/recreation, or you just plain like the comfort they provide.
4. Wear your legwear in settings where you will be interacting with people who already know you well (friends, family, co-workers, teammates, etc.). One of the hardest things for men when they first begin wearing legwear out in the open is to do so around those who know them well, but it's also one of the best ways to share a favorable impression of men's legwear with others. If they already know, like and respect you, they're less likely to leap to unfavorable conclusions about men's legwear or reasons you're wearing it. Keep in mind that, if your status is high in their eyes, that will tend to ELEVATE their perception of men's legwear--rather than the converse, which is that your wearing of legwear will LOWER their perceptions of you. Since I've become Director of Marketing for ACTIVSKIN, my reputation among acquaintences has tended to positively influence the perception of those around me regarding men's legwear. But, it requires a certain willingness to risk.
To be an ambassador for men's legwear, you have to become comfortable with wearing it anywhere and being prepared to give reasoned responses to the question of, "Why?" Of course, workplace dress codes often preclude wearing shorts to the office, but there are functions away from work like golf outings, etc. where you can certainly wear legwear and take advantage of opportunities to share with colleagues why this trend is growing the way it is.
Become comfortable responding to critical comments without becoming nervous or agitated. If a buddy says something like, "Tell me more about it, although it does seem a little gay." (This was an actual comment I received from a friend), don't respond defensively. In this example, I just casually shrugged it off and proceeded to tell him about the various reasons men are wearing hose these days. As I suspected, it was just good-natured ribbing, like guys do to each other. I responded appropriately and he's since helped me on occasion with publicity advice.
5. Comment on articles or blogsites that make reference to men's legwear, 'mantyhose', etc. They're easy to find by setting up Google Alerts or similar tools. Make sure not to sound 'shrill' if/when you need to take them to task for something they've written. Have a sense of humor. Also, make sure to sound reasonable and don't write things that will make you sound like a fringe-dweller when defending/advocating for men's legwear. I've been doing this for quite a few years now, and I can say that a key thing about this is to be willing to provide your actual name. Comments and posts carry much more credibility when the author is willing to be identified by name. (HINT TO COMMENTERS HERE ON THE NYLON GENE...) Therefore, you have to be willing to accept the possibility of your friends and colleagues seeing your name out there somewhere, in support of legwear. But, that shouldn't trouble you, as it may well give you the opportunity to cover Item #4 above.
6. And lastly, the seemingly self-serving suggestion to buy only from companies that cater to the men's legwear market. Yes, I know that pretty well excludes everyone but ACTIVSKIN when referring to U.S. companies, but I would make the same comment if there were several companies in this country selling hosiery exclusively for men. Our sales have grown steadily over the years--especially since the beginning of 2008--and that provides: a) the evidence that the men's legwear trend is a legitimate market force that's continually moving toward social norming, and b) the resources to pursue publicity campaigns we have been working on or wish to launch in the future.
We are aware that a certain segment of the men's legwear market still purchases much of their legwear from women's hosiery companies. This could be because they first started wearing legwear before we came on the scene and they're reluctant to change, it could be price (remember, you get what you pay for), or a dislike of mail order or ordering over the internet (we do take phone orders), or various and sundry other reasons. However, buying from these companies only reinforces delusions that there is not a viable market for men's legwear.
We at ACTIVSKIN will continue to view our role as more than simply a provider of a product. We perceive a responsibility to our clientele to advocate an environment where all men who wear our product can do so with absolutely no qualms whatsoever about how their choice of legwear is perceived by those around them. To accomplish that goal we must remain economically viable in the long run (oops, I should avoid words like that).
Men's legwear has moved much closer to what we would call the mainstream. It's being mentioned more frequently on blogs and in the media, to the point where it's less 'remarkable' than it once was, since many (possibily most) have at least heard that there is such a thing. We welcome and encourage the help of you readers to augment our efforts. Please feel free to contact me directly if you would like to discuss more specific items.