Thursday, September 3, 2009

ActivSkin Interview on NPR

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Here's a blast from the past. It's an interview by National Public Radio's (NPR) John Ydstie with ACTIVSKIN founder, Steve Katz, in February 2002. This interview followed immediately on the heels of the Feb. 19, 2002 front page Wall Street Journal article that first chronicled the early stages of the men's pantyhose trend on a national level. That article, and the ensuing spinoff publicity (including the radio interview transcribed below) helped bring us widespread recognition. It also led to large increases in sales, as men in large numbers became aware of hosiery as a legitimate option for a variety of leg health and athletic benefits, and responded enthusiastically. Here, the audio has been combined with video images:

[TRANSCRIPT FOLLOWS] February 23, 2002 -

NPR: Pantyhose... have long been considered by many women to be one of the curses of the fairer sex. They're hard to put on, bind around the waist, and run easily. To the great relief of many women, pantyhose are no longer required female attire in many offices. But for a number of reasons--and not the ones you might think--pantyhose are becoming more and more popular among... men.

NPR: Steve Katz is the chief executive of G. Lieberman & Sons. His company has created a line of pantyhose, for men, called ComfiLon. He joins us from Granville, Ohio. Thanks for joining us Mr. Katz.

SK: Thank you.

NPR: I was surprised to find out that men are buying a larger and larger share of the pantyhose sold in the United States these days. What's the attraction?

SK: Well, we like to joke in this industry that there are two kinds of people in the world--and this applies to both men and women--there are those that have the 'nylon gene' and those that don't. And, people that do like soft, silky fabrics; like nylon; like silk boxers, for instance. The problem comes in that, when men want to wear a fabric that's soft and silky, there's a social stigma to it.

NPR: Yeah, I think most people would think that men who buy pantyhose are probably cross dressers. That not only would they like to wear pantyhose, they might like to wear other women's attire. But that's not the case, right?

SK: No, it isn't. It turns out that many men are attracted not to the fact that it's traditionally a woman's garment. They're attracted to the practical benefits, such as preventing muscle fatigue, for men who stand or sit a lot in their jobs; providing warmth in cool weather; preventing chafing in sports activities. Things like that.

NPR: And, what does a pair of your pantyhose look like?

SK: From the external appearance it looks exactly like women's pantyhose. But it's designed to fit men's bodies. It has longer legs, a lower waistline, a bigger waist, a front panel that is designed to comfortably hold male equipment and, a fly opening.

NPR: And, a fly opening!?

SK: Yeah.

NPR: That was very thougthful of you.

SK: It is a truly a male garment.

NPR: So Mr Katz, forgive me for asking... but, are you wearing ComfiLon legwear right now?

SK: I am indeed. I believe in my product, and I wear it just about every day. And what I have on today, actually, is a pair of thigh highs.

NPR: Well, thank you very much for speaking with us.

SK: Thank you.

NPR: Steve Katz is the chief executive of G. Lieberman & Sons... speaking with us from his office in Granville, Ohio. His company's website is

[SAN Note: If you would like to read the Wall Street Journal article, entitled "Kingsize, Not Queen: Some Men Have Taken to Wearing Pantyhose," that preceded this, it can be found by following the link under 'Legwear In The News' in the righthand column of this blog]


  1. Steve,

    I just listened to the audio of Steve K's interview on February 23,2002 and found it to mbe interesting. I believe that Steve K portrayed the image well.

  2. Thigh high stockings more comfortable for me lycra and spandex what is the difference?

    For example

    Contains 90% nylon microfiber and 10% Lycra® spandex.

    Contains 84% nylon and 16% spandex

    Contains 64% nylon and 36% spandex

    Contains 84% nylon microfiber and 16% Lycra® spandex.

  3. Not sure if you're asking what the difference between Lycra and spandex, or the difference between the 4 content examples you posted. So, I'll address both.

    Spandex is a synthetic fiber known for its exceptional elasticity. It was invented in 1959 by DuPont chemist Joseph Shivers. When first introduced, it revolutionized many areas of the clothing industry. Spandex is a generic name and not derived from the chemical name of the fiber, as are most manufactured fibers, but an anagram of the word expands. "Spandex" is the preferred name in North America; elsewhere it is referred to as "elastane". The most famous brand name associated with spandex is Lycra, a trademark of Invista (formerly part of DuPont). Such is the prominence of the Lycra brand that it has become a genericised trademark in many parts of the world, used to describe any kind of spandex. [compliments of Wikipedia]

    Basically, Lycra is a trademarked brand name of the generic term, Spandex.

    Generally, the higher the Lycra/spandex content of hosiery, the more stretch and 'give' it has, and generally the more comfortable it is. Oftentimes, the more full-support styles of hosiery contain the higher Lycra/spandex content, because it can stretch a large amount and then apply more pressure to the legs while wearing. Hosiery that has very little, or no Lycra/spandex content is more sheer but may also have more problems with sliding down associated with it.

    Hope this helped.

  4. Thank you very much Steve.

  5. Now that fall is back, I'm back to wearing my tights and pantyhose under my pants and skirts every day to and from work and I love it. Plus, I now will be back to traveling 45 miles to work instead of working from home. Nothing like leggings to get me through those wretched traffic jam hells !

    We may not get single payer health care (HR676 and S 703) but for some health care for all, I say pantyhose for all ! :)

  6. Sorry to hear about your long commute, Jennifer. Support hose will keep your legs feeling good during a long drive.

    Not EVEN going to touch on anything related to the healthcare debate on this blog. But, support legwear is a great way to embrace wellness ;-)


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