Today, I was interviewed by Kathy Phillips of KUDO 1080-AM Radio in Anchorage. She and her co-host started off by observing that men all over the place have been wearing women's pantyhose for added warmth while hunting--and there are certainly a lot of hunters in Alaska. Both seemed to think, "why not?"
At first they thought our legwear would be good for 'drag queens', but then after looking over my blog, they had realized there are actually many more applications for practical reasons. (NOTE: This station is listed as "Progressive Talk Radio" so it seems they're probably more inclined to favor those inclinations than most people we deal with. I don't think they realized at first that's not the direction we are headed with ActivSkin.)
The questions first centered around my career transition from civil engineering to marketing men's pantyhose, and Kathy asked me how I got into this business. Other questions included: How does ActivSkin legwear differ from women's pantyhose?... Do they come in different colors in the opaques?... What sort of reasons, or target markets, do we anticipate for our legwear?... Do you have a lot of hunting groups who buy our legwear?... Do we have any that didn't have feet in them?... They made the suggestion that we develop a 'Spanx for Men' that we could call, "Manx". (I told them about our A313 'Ab-Sense' shaper briefs that we already sell)
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Today, I was interviewed by Kathy Phillips of KUDO 1080-AM Radio in Anchorage. She and her co-host started off by observing that men all over the place have been wearing women's pantyhose for added warmth while hunting--and there are certainly a lot of hunters in Alaska. Both seemed to think, "why not?"
Monday, September 28, 2009
Following the news from Britain last week of a major London retailer introducing a line of men's hosiery--dubbed Mantihose by its maker, Unconditional--there has been a flood of media attention in the U.K. Much of it has taken a negative tone, with headlines blaring sentiments such as, "Men's Tights Are An Abomination" in the Daily Telegraph. It's unfortunate that the British press can't simply report on developments without trying to hard to shape public perceptions along the way. Toward that end, I published an article on The Examiner that will, hopefully, lend some balance to the vigorous debate that has erupted since last Thursday...
I'll leave Nylon Gene readers to read the full article themselves. However, I can muse here on the blog about the possible intentions of the media who are reporting on this across the Atlantic. It surely seems they have an interest in squashing the men's tights trend, as I've tried to point out in my article. The question arises as to, 'why?'
It's one thing to not be a fan of legwear, be you male or female. There are many women who hate wearing pantyhose, and if they do wear them it's only when absolutely necessary. Yet, there are at least as many who love to wear a quality pair of hose and appreciate the feel of them, as well as the practical benefits. Likewise, there's a good portion of American men who will never don a pair of tights, regardless of how many legitimate benefits can be shown. But, again, there is also a sizeable (and growing) segment who have discovered these benefits and have become diehard fans. If you're one of the former group, it shouldn't matter to you how many men might take up the tights trend. So why must so many in the press unfairly slant the playing field against men's legwear?
As I pointed out in the article, the choice to use pictures from the e-MANcipate site hints at their motives, and it's reinforced by dressing a reporter in shirt & tie, with leggings and a mini-kilt below the waist. What's up with that? We certainly support Chan Kraemer's work at e-MANcipate, but we also readily acknowledge that they are out there, 'on the edge' and not the sort of imagery that's destined to convert the average man-on-the-street to a favorable disposition without a good deal of time to become acccustomed to it. The news reports never even state whether these leggings are in fact the product being sold at Selfridge's in London, so we're left to wonder if they just pulled this outfit together from leftovers from the wardrobe department? Those in the know, such as myself, are certainly aware that the e-MANcipate photos have no relation whatsoever with the new Unconditional line--nor does the mini-kilt.
Taken together, these paint a picture of British manhood that is not very secure with itself. If this were not so, why would it seem so imperative to take down this new line of clothing, no matter what misleading images need be used? Men who are confident in their masculinity don't feel it necessary to hunt down and eliminate those that they deem don't illustrate their definition of traditional manhood. In fact, they are willing to wear new things without running about and getting 'permission' from others beforehand.
As we're constantly illustrating here on The Nylon Gene, men's legwear (sheer or otherwise) is a completely masculine garment if worn in conjunction with otherwise male attire. It's high time certain members of the press attempt to provide a more balanced perspective than they've done thus far. Until that time, it will be left to myself and those like me to continue to beat the drum for the thousands and thousands of men in all walks of life who simply want to take better care of their legs and don't want to be associated with 'prancing about' and so forth.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Today was a very active day with respect to media interaction. I did two radio interviews about men's tights with the BBC before breakfast. The first, with BBC Radio Kent, took place around 6:50 am, which is 11:50 am in Britain. The other one was with BBC Radio Wales at about 7:30 am Eastern Time (12:30pm GMT). Read on for a synopsis and audio links so you can listen to them...
BBC Radio Kent Interview: Powered by Podbean.com
The interview with Radio Kent was done by Andy Garland. While he was polite enough during the two to three minute interview, I suspect that, of the two interviewers he was probably the least favorbly disposed to men's tights going in. I say this based on the 'man on the street' interviews they aired prior to my coming on the air. That's always a good reason to listen in prior to the start of your interview, as it sometimes gives you an insight into where they are coming from, and also allows you to possibly address some of the issues already in the interviewer's mind. The questions included ones about how long we've been selling men's tights?... What do you wear under or over them?... How many Americans are wearing them?...
BBC Radio Wales Interview: Powered by Podbean.com
The co-hosts who did the BBC Radio Wales interview--Jamie Owen and Louise Elliot--seemed possibly more amenable to the subject. The lead-in included discussion of how news of men wearing tights and the launching of 'Mantihose' at Selgridges department store in London had fairly well "gripped the nation." They had received numerous calls and emails from men divulging that they did in fact wear tights under their trousers, including many in Her Majesty's military. Louise noted that these men had been wearing ladies' tights, but they had a guest (me) who would describe a company selling tights made for men.
The questions were good, including the following: Do you have tights on now?... Where did this idea come from?... What's the difference between women's pantyhose and these we sell for men?... What kinds of response have we had?... Is our American audience concerned over how this will look?... Is it correct that the U.S. military have 'tested' our tights?... How do you (me) find wearing them yourself?... Louise also wondered whether camouflage tights would be of interest, given the military's use of them, to which I replied that we've had that idea in development recently.
Just a brief little update on what's going on. Many of you, especially in the UK, have been seeing the wave of men's legwear publicity surrounding news of Selfridge's (a London-based department store) launching a line of men's tights. The Daily Mail, Telegraph, and Evening Standard ran articles covering this item, although the coverage leaves much to be desired. However, the surge in attention paid to men's tights in Britain have brought ACTIVSKIN into the public eye as well. Just this morning before 8:00am, I've given two phone interviews for BBC Radio Kent and Radio Wales...
I'm working on getting the audio in a form that I can share easily with Nylon Gene readers. In the mean time, you can go to the following links to listen online to the recording:
Jamie & Louise/BBC Wales - Open the player and slide the bar to about 0:10:00 (and 0:15:00, 0:21:00, 0:29:30, 0:52:00, 1:11:00, 1:38:00, 1:57:30) for some of the setup. Go to about 2:50:00 for the interview itself.
Andy Garland/BBC Kent - Go to the player, you can slide the slider around until you find it. I've not had the chance to find where it is in the 3 hour time slot. The only guidance I can give right now is that I did the interview about 7:50am, which would be 12:50pm GMT. Since I believe he's on from 10:00am to 1:00pm, my interview might be located around 2:50:00 in the program.
If you listen, please post your comments and feedback below.
One more thing: After these articles ran, it was amazing how the Twitter activity on #mantyhose skyrocketed. I was checking in on Thursday evening and my keyword alert was full of posts commenting on them. You can join the conversation if you search on the Twitter hashtag #mantyhose. Include the tag in your posts, too. That helps increase the tracking, which might get it listed in the Trending Topics. It's a good opportunity to engage those people who are currently carrying around mis-informed negative ideas of men's legwear. Just remember to be gracious and civil in your discussion. Also, you can help us increase awareness and web traffic at ActivSkin and The Nylon Gene by using these the following links, http://bit.ly/dN3bb and http://bit.ly/Yu3c8, respectively, to refer people to the sites.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The following article on leg health benefits of men's legwear was originally written as a press release several months ago, and more recently published as an Examiner.com article, as referenced from The Nylon Gene last week. Here is the article as it originally appeared.
by Steve Newman
GRANVILLE/OHIO, USA – September 21, 2009 — If you’re nearing your forties, chances are you’re a man who suffers from leg cramps, achiness, or varicose veins, or you know one who does. You may even be one of those unfortunates to whom Mother Nature chose to send her wake-up call even earlier, possibly in your thirties. If you work in an ‘at-risk’ profession, the problem is even more pervasive. Although most leg support products are directed toward women, up to 45% of American men also suffer from some form of vein problem[i].
To add insult to injury, if you’ve complained to your doctor about it, you’ve probably been told to either try support socks or, if the problem extends above the calf, to use expensive medical-grade compression hosiery. Many men subsequently return to their doctor and either report that the socks don’t address higher up problems, or the medical-grade hosiery are too tight, hot and difficult to put on. Having no ‘middle road’ to offer, medical professionals typically resort to sending their patient to the local drugstore to pick up a pair of L’eggs® Sheer Energy® pantyhose, or something similar. While this is certainly a workable solution, most men are squeamish about wearing women’s hosiery, and as a result, many go without anything to alleviate their pain and discomfort. Of those who have worn women’s brands, they would prefer support hosiery designed for the male body. The new men’s legwear includes such features as a fly opening and sizes up to 6’-4” height.
Some men opt to just ‘grin and bear it’ hoping they can just work through the discomfort. While this may seem to be a workable—albeit unpleasant—solution, when you ignore issues with leg circulation, the consequences do not just go away. Instead, they generally become progressively worse.
The Problem, In A Nutshell
Venous circulation problems arise from a variety of causes. If you are sedentary—sitting for extended periods of time without elevating your legs, or spending many hours standing (cashiers, chefs, surgeons, et al)—these constitute additional risk factors. The veins in your legs do a lot of work carrying all that blood upward to the heart, working against gravity the whole way. To avoid backflow, they are equipped with tiny one-way valves all along their length. When your muscles contract they assist those little valves in forcing blood through your veins. As you age, vein walls can begin to weaken and stretch, making the valves less effective at moving blood, which can begin to pool in the lower legs. Pooled blood places added pressure on the vein walls, exacerbating the problem further and leading to the ‘heavy’ feeling experienced by many men, as well as women, who have venous insufficiency. Weakened blood vessel walls can then begin to bulge under the strain, creating visible signs of varicose veins.
Cramping and achiness generally accompany these visible symptoms, as well. Leg cramps are painful, involuntary muscle contractions occurring mainly in older adults. They can disrupt sleep, cause tenderness, muscle fatigue, and spasms. They are very common, affecting up to 70% of people over age 50, and some studies suggest that roughly one in two persons over 50 suffer from varicose veins. In many cases it is impossible to determine the specific cause, because they can arise from many sources.
In addition to massage, exercise, improved diet, and drugs—elastic compression therapy can also help when your veins have trouble doing it on their own. This is simply the wearing of nylon/spandex hosiery during the day, which applies sufficient pressure to provide support to leg muscles and veins to facilitate good circulation. Wearing compression legwear enhances blood flow, which gets more oxygen to your leg muscles, energizing them all day. As a result, leg cramps can be diminished or even eliminated altogether by this simple measure.
Not to mention the support provided to weakened blood vessels associated with varicose veins. It doesn’t take much compression to provide some relief. Although they won’t ‘cure’ varicose veins that have already formed, wearing support hosiery can help prevent the condition from progressively worsening, requiring more invasive procedures to treat it. Prevention is the key, because once they appear you can only keep them from getting worse. The U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services’ FAQs on varicose veins states, “The single most important thing a person can do to slow the development of new varicose veins is to wear graduated compression support hosiery as much as possible during the day.”
New Solutions for Men
Women have long realized the benefits of support hosiery, having dozens of brands of support tights and pantyhose to choose from. Unfortunately for men, our cultural bias has associated full-length hosiery or tights strictly with women’s wear, and this has prevented many men from discovering an effective solution.
That has changed considerably in the past 10 years, since ActivSkin (http://www.activskin.com/) arrived on the scene and began selling sheer and opaque hosiery designed especially for men. During that time, barriers have fallen and mental paradigms have shifted, as the company has worked tirelessly to develop a masculine concept for legwear that sheds those unwarranted stereotypes, and in so doing provides an avenue for men to proactively pursue improved leg health. Now, men can confidently wear a product that can help ward off advancement of varicose veins and other effects of poor venous circulation. Although several European companies have begun selling men’s hosiery in the ensuing years, ActivSkin is still the only U.S. company doing so, and remains the market leader and innovator in men’s legwear. Their sheer Styles A577, A677 and A2019; and opaque Styles A869/A879 are the most popular for men with leg circulation problems. Style A4012 provides a unique combination of patterned dress socks on the lower leg with a semi-sheer upper portion that is cooler than opaque tights in the warmer months.
As the population ages, we’ve become much more attuned to preventative health measures—preferring proactive to reactive. When men begin seeing early signs of varicose veins, they want to take countermeasures to help prevent it from advancing to a point where they must resort to invasive treatments.
Today’s man has become more confident in his masculinity, too. He is much less prone to be squeamish over products that women have long known to be beneficial. The emerging mindset is, “if it’s helpful, I don’t care if it’s a ‘girls’ or ‘guys’ product. Does it get the job done?” Toward that end, men’s hosiery has emerged from a fringe concept, and is moving past the edges of consumer awareness on it’s way to becoming the next big thing.
Today, men are also more attuned to the aesthetic benefits of support hosiery. ActivSkin legwear comes in a variety of colors and sheerness levels, so men don’t have to forego their shorts just because they’re wearing support legwear. Many an older guy is surprised and flattered when a female acquaintance compliments him on how good his legs look. Unless he opts for colors that contrast his skin, most people don’t even realize he’s wearing hosiery. And when they do, they are often complimentary of his self-confidence for not being restrained by outdated stereotypes. Once upon a time, men weren’t supposed to ‘care’ about their appearance, but that has changed considerably of late, with men using moisturizers, facial cleansers, hair coloring, hair removal, etc. to improve their look and maybe squeeze a few more years of youthful glow out of their body. The same holds true for those guys who would otherwise be ready to hang up their shorts due to self-consciousness over the condition of their legs.
“Our sales for last year were the best ever,” says Steve Newman, director of marketing for ActivSkin. “As men are discovering that legwear can be a truly unisex product, they’re turning to support hosiery in a big way to help keep their legs feeling good.”
There are, of course, no guarantees that wearing compression hose will stop leg cramps, but the company has received dozens of testimonials to that effect (several of which are posted on their web site) and has helped hundreds, if not thousands of men find relief. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor and look into it further.
 U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, The National Women’s Health & Information Center ((http://www.womenshealth.gov/FAQ/varicose-spider-veins.cfm#C)
 ibid, (http://www.womenshealth.gov/FAQ/varicose-spider-veins.cfm#K)
Monday, September 21, 2009
September 22nd is, of course, the first day of Fall. If you haven't yet, you'll soon be feeling that chill air on your legs. Especially when you go out in the morning with your shorts, guys. If you've been thinking of giving the new men's legwear a try, now's the time. Opaque tights can extend shorts-wearing season well into November in many areas
There's been a growing amount of media coverage of the emerging men's legwear trend. We've read of regular guys wearing sheer pantyhose--or 'mantyhose'--for leg support to provide relief for poor leg circulation. Some wear them with shorts, others aren't quite up to it and only wear them under trousers. In any case, these guys wear them year-round because they help their legs feel better--and they may find that they just plain like the feel of them as well.
Runners Want Warmth-Without-Bulk
As temperatures begin to drop, other men will start to pull on a pair of tights, too. They may be less motivated by leg health concerns and instead want something to take the chill off their legs without resorting to something heavier and bulkier. Runners and cyclists like the sheer or thin opaque tights sold by companies like ACTIVSKIN because they provide just enough insulation to help ward off cramps when September and October air first hits their bare legs, yet doesn't cause overheating after they've warmed up during exercise. Some makers of higher-priced dedicated running tights, such as CW-X have even acknowldged this aspect by incorporating sheer mesh panels into some of their products.
Since many of these products come in moderate- and full-support styles, athletes using them also get the benefits of muscle compression. Many athletes are already aware of the beneficial effect of compression shorts on stamina and endurance. Support tights provide this same benefit for the entire lower body.
Hunters, campers and other outdoorsmen also like them for a base layer under their outerwear when they're hiking around in the 'outback'. Not only that, but the form-fitting garment is an excellent defense against ticks and similar backwoods pests. Fall is the time when the hunters head for the woods, yet there are still a lot of hikers and campers out there well into the colder months. As men's legwear continues to make inroads with the 'regular guy', there will continue to be more and more who may just surprise you when they roll up the pant leg of their Carrharts to reveal some nice comfy tights underneath.
The foregoing article appeared on my Examiner.com page today. Please pay a visit.
Friday, September 18, 2009
OK, I've got good news and bad news. Which do you want first? (No, this isn't the setup for a stale joke). Here's the bad news: Price increases. ACTIVSKIN has kept prices steady for the past five years in the face of rising costs and shrinking margins. Suppliers have been faced with higher nylon and spandex costs and have wasted no time in passing those cost increases along to ACTIVSKIN. Shipping costs (from the mills) have risen, and packaging and office supplies have gone up considerably as well. Therefore, as of mid-October prices will go up pretty much across the board, to keep pace. What's the good news? Read on to find out...
Demand for products is still very strong, so ACTIVSKIN believes this price adjustment will be successful in the long term.
What this means for you, the customer, is that now is an ideal time to purchase the products you've been thinking of buying, but at a lower price than they you will see this time next month. Most products will go up around a dollar or two, depending on specific wholesale cost increases. Individually, this is not a lot, but the savings can be significant if you buy in quantity and act before it’s too late.
Gerbe luxury legwear wholesale prices went up a great deal, thus retail price increases will be more substantial than the other brands. ACTIVSKIN is not sure of the exact date of the increase, but anticipates it to be around October 15th.
Here's the good news: ACTIVSKIN is pleased to announce that Gerbe sheer Satin 20 knee-high socks--a very popular product that gets rave reviews from loyal followers--are now available in navy color. These sheer socks feature a reinforced heel and toe, comfortable top band, and a very nice finish. The support they provide is outstanding. So if you want to dip your toe into the luxury socks market and find out why Gerbe quality is worth the price ($16.99 per pair prior to the price increase), give this style a try. Gerbe products are virtually never returned by customers. Given the higher prices of these luxury items, you can be sure customers wouldn't hesitate to return them if they weren't happy with their purchase.
Plain and simple... Gerbe customers love Gerbe products.
To check them out, go to: http://www.comfilon.com/cataloggerbe.asp.
Last month ACTIVSKIN announced a new Style A560, which was identified as a sheer-to-waist pantyhose, with a fabric that was heavier than conventional sheer pantyhose but lighter than opaque tights. Some might call it, "semi-sheer." This new style provides full support with a very substantial amount of leg compression. Since it was introduced in August, sales of Style A560 have gone through the roof. The enthusiastic response took ACTIVSKIN by surprise! It was the most successful new product introduction in recent memory, surpassing even the phenomenal introduction of the A677 sheer pantyhose with fly opening. If you haven’t done so already, give A560 a try and see why so many customers love them! You can find them here: http://www.comfilon.com/catalogsheerpantyhose.asp.
It’s also time to start thinking about autumn and cool weather here in the temperate climes of the northern hemisphere. Style A866 support tights (and A876, which is identical but footless) are poised to be the most popular style going when those frosty mornings arrive. They glide well under trousers, provide good compression, and the fit is superb since they're so stretchy. They also feature a convenient but unobtrusive fly opening. Order yours now while all the sizes are still in stock at: http://www.comfilon.com/catalogoptights.asp.
For ACTIVSKIN customers in the southern hemisphere and other warm climates, consider our very popular A1730 STW all-nylon pantyhose. They're an excellent choice. http://www.comfilon.com/catalogsheerpantyhose.asp.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
There are millions of stories, all around, of people whose lives have been upended as a result of the economic crisis we've been enduring in the U.S. for the past year or so. My personal tale is probably one of the more unusual career transitions you’ll hear of. Some may find it interesting or instructive. I went from civil engineer to men's pantyhose marketer almost overnight. That sentence alone is enough to get most people's heads to snap around. Read on…
March 2nd started out like most days at the engineering firm where I worked, until the department manager called me into his office and informed me that there were going to be layoffs--20% of the staff--and I was one of them. The company's fortunes had turned around drastically since December, when the year-end meeting had painted a not necessarily rosy picture, but a relatively sound one. My head was spinning as I began to clear out my office.
Fortunately, my wife and I had been making provisions for an undefined 'emergency' since the middle of the previous summer, so we were not without resources. We had saved about half of what we estimated we might need to sustain us with no other income for about 6 months, so we were glad we had made such decisions, despite not having had time to complete our preparation.
Previous experience taught us that six months is about what it takes to find new employment in good economic times. How long might it take given the dire circumstances facing the country in Spring 2009--and still today? I knew from conversations with colleagues that the civil engineering market was in dismal shape in Central Ohio. Many firms had been laying off engineers for several months, and several of my acquaintances had been unemployed since the previous October. So, prospects for finding an engineering position to replace my former one appeared grim. Where was I going to start looking first?
This is where my story takes a unique turn.
First, I need to provide some background information for those who are not familiar with how I came to be a legwear wearer. I had experienced leg pains and chronic 'heaviness' due to poor leg circulation since my late 30s. I’ve been wearing support hosiery at the recommendation of a doctor for more than 10 years. This has prevented the beginnings of varicose veins from advancing, and contributed significantly to my daily comfort level. Early on, I became aware of a company called Comfilon (later, ACTIVSKIN) that was launched in 1999 to sell the unheard of product, pantyhose and tights made for men. Since the support styles provide such good leg support, I became a customer and eventually befriended Steve Katz (the founder) and his wife, since Granville, where they are located, is only 35 miles from my home. Over the course of the years, I did a little 'pro bono' publicity work here and there, to help promote the emerging, but still small, trend of men wearing nylon hosiery for leg support or added warmth. I also did a bit of part-time work on the side in 2002-03.
Cut to the present... The day after I was laid off, I called Steve K. and asked if there were anything I could do to help out, and earn a little supplemental income to help us get through the job search period. We met for lunch the next day, and Steve informed me that the business had grown such that he needed someone to take over the marketing responsibilities, since they left him little time to attend to the many other tasks of running a business. Being already familiar with my writing abilities and enthusiasm for promoting men's legwear, he was eager to have me come aboard as his director of marketing.
Although the initial pay was less than I was making as an engineer, this offer had two major pluses going for it. First and foremost was that it was A JOB! Only two days after becoming unemployed in one of the worst economic downturns in recent history (never mind whether we call it a recession or a depression), I had found steady employment. Secondly, this opportunity afforded me the chance to pursue the rewards that can come from taking a small, but growing, company to a much higher level while at the same time advancing a trend that I truly believe in. There are many men like myself who complain of leg problems but don't realize their social programming is eliminating a solution that's right under their noses. If successful in my efforts, those men who have already taken the leap and tried men's support hosiery will be supported in their choice, rather than ridiculed for it.
Of course, there were minuses to consider also. If successful, I would be turning away from the engineering profession in which I had been educated and spent 25 years working. Since we have four children, two of whom will be entering college within the next few years, there was the issue of making do on a lower salary until such time the business experiences the sort of growth that will bring me closer to my former salary. Fortunately, this is where our prior prudence in preparing for a rainy day was crucial. The savings we had built up for such a purpose would allow us to supplement the lower income, so we could make ends meet. The decision to forego actively pursuing engineering jobs was aided by the recognition that I was probably not missing out on any plum job opportunities in the first place. That left the door open to pursue this challenging but exciting opportunity.
A secondary, but not insignificant, concern was my wife's feelings about it becoming general knowledge that "her husband wears pantyhose." Although I had made no secret about wearing legwear for leg health reasons, most of our friends and acquaintances were probably unaware because it just didn't come up in conversation on it's own. Even though I’ve often worn tan-colored hose with shorts in warm weather, they usually escape notice if one is not looking for them. Nevertheless, my wife feared that friends would harbor negative impressions of me--and her, by extension--if they became aware of it. My personal experience had shown me in no uncertain terms that most people who were aware of it did not jump to unsavory conclusions about cross-dressing and the like. They know and respect me, and generally assumed I wore them due to medical reasons, which is exactly why I do. However, no matter how much I shared this with Mrs. Nylon Gene, she had always had great difficulty accepting it as true.
Taking this new career path would not only present us with the uncertainties of making our way in the totally uncharted waters of a brand new product concept, which seemed to be on the verge of 'catching fire', but held no guarantees. It also presented my wife with the uncomfortable proposition of being thrust into the limelight over something that had previously been a source of embarrassment for her. The good news here is that all of her fears and misgivings were soon shown to be completely unfounded. Without exception, all of her/our friends were completely supportive of the idea (other than occasional musings from a few over whether it's wise to forego actively pursuing engineering work while pursuing this new direction). Most thought it has the potential to really take hold as men become more open-minded about adopting unorthodox solutions to improve wellness, and people continue to pursue wellness in favor of treatment.
The bottom line is that she witnessed firsthand the readiness of so many people to be open to this emerging trend, and the disappearance of negative connotations that may once have been more prevalent. Therefore, she was open to the prospect of me taking what is no doubt a radical change in career direction. Today, I wear them everywhere we go together--sometimes in darker shades such as black--and she has witnessed firsthand how people take men's legwear completely in stride. Nine months ago this would have filled her with dread. In fact, when I was scheduled to appear on a show Oprah was planning in January on the men's pantyhose trend, she was extremely relieved when it was canceled at the last minute due to a breaking news story. Today, however, she takes the publicity completely in stride.
So, it's been nearly seven months since I set out upon this unorthodox career transition. There have been many successes, and some disappointments. I'm still working diligently as the de facto ambassador of men's legwear, and it seems to be making a difference. It's been said that you should do what you love, and the money will follow. I love the work that I do, and that's a big plus. I believe the quote was from John D. Rockefeller. Let's hope he knew what he was talking about.
The Santa Barbara (CA) News-Press ran an extensive story on men's legwear and shapewear on Monday of this week (Sept. 14th) on the front page of their Life Section. The article focused extensively on ActivSkin legwear and the recently introduced Core Precision undershirt by Ecumen, and how they can serve as 'shaper' garments for men looking to shave a few inches off their bodies, without resorting to all that exercise stuff. You can access the article by clicking on this link, or the one provided in the "Legwear In the News" list in the right-hand column of this blog.
While we don't spend a great deal of effort promoting the 'shaper' qualities of our legwear, several styles do in fact 'suck things in' enough to help a guy fit into his clothes a little easier, and thus improve his appearance a bit. We sent the reporter/editor a couple of pairs of our legwear for use in the story. The two styles they used were A582 (in black) and A2019 (in tan). The A582 has a very snug shaper brief that was probably the pair that the test subject (Mr. Johnson) tore up in his first trial.
We always try to provide very specific instructions for putting on legwear--especially when guys with absolutely no experience in donning hosiery are testing it out for a newspaper story like this. This time was no different, either. But, as the reporter told me later during our interview, they purposely did not share the instructions with him for the first trial, just to see how he would do on his own. Thus, there's little surprise he shredded the first pair. For the second, he was provided with the instructions, and it seems to have made a big difference.
We were very pleased with the article. It was a very in-depth look at men's legwear, which was reflected in the very lengthy interview I gave over the phone. The reporter asked a wide range of questions that showed he was truly interested in learning more about men's legwear.
For those who are interested in our other shaper products, we offer a nylon/spandex brief nicknamed, "Ab-Sense" (Style A313, $13.99 each) that comes up high on the abdomen and can be counted on to suck in the ol' beer gut a bit, and will stay up without rolling down around your waist. So, click on the link and enjoy the article.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Nancy Friedman wrote a very interesting article last week entitled, "Brand MAN-agement." In it, she discussed how so many man-words and man-brands attempt to "masculinize activities and products usually marketed to women."
This, of course, is of interest to us here at The Nylon Gene, since much of our discussion centers around various aspects of the men's legwear trend, which has been dubbed 'mantyhose' by many in the popular press...
Although some of us here have debated whether use of the word, 'mantyhose' is a good thing or not, we can probably all agree it's not as bad as, 'man-pris' (capri pants for men), 'mandals' (men's sandals) and other verbal attrocities. Ms. Friedman even noted the emergence of the word, 'man-cession', which was documented by University of Michigan professor who is trying to make the point that male workers are hit harder during the current economic downturn. Nylon Gene readers will recall the July 5 post that shared the news that ACTIVSKIN was included in an online TIME Magazine Photo Essay on 'Man-cessories'--products coming into use by men that were formerly used primarily by women.
"Like manscaping, many man-words and man-brands attempt to masculinize activities and products usually marketed to women. The earliest example may be the manbag — a purse used by men — which first appeared in print in 1968 in, of all places, the Newark (Ohio) Advocate and American Tribune. 'The manbag is a natural progression in the men's wear revolution that started a short time ago with turtlenecks,' the paper informed its readers. (Turtlenecks!) The manbag (or murse) never became as ubiquitous as those Midwestern metrosexuals may have wished, but it never went away, either. Its survival may have been aided by the robustly male Chewbacca, who carried one in Star Wars. In any event, it exerted a linguistic pull on many other products formerly under the sway of the feminine mystique."Why the rise of the 'man-word' of late? On the one hand, it seems to be a shorthand for men acting like (stereotypical) women in some isolated area, without the more socially-suspect act of trying to be a woman. Or, possibly an acknowledgement that men in the past have been too uptight about having anything to do with anything that smacks of the feminine, and today's guy is a bit more laid back about it.
"Back in the 1990s, TV's Seinfeld advanced the cause of man-fashion with the man-fur (worn by Elaine's boyfriend David Puddy) and the memorable mansierre, the bra invented by George Costanza's father to support men with, well, man-boobs. The mankini—a lime-green suspender-thong—worn by Borat in the eponymous 2006 movie spoofed not only stereotypical European swim attire but also the whole ?kini clan (bikini, tankini, monokini, trikini). The mankini was fictional, mostly (check Amazon for the $13.99 costume version), but mantyhose are quite real. Read all about them at e-MANcipate, whose goal is "to mainstream pantyhose for men." You may want to take along a pair or two on your next mancation—a term first heard in another 2006 film, The Breakup, and soon thereafter appropriated by a website (Mancation!) that offered all-guy getaways. The sorts of vacations where a dude can wear mandals—man-sandals—and his buddies won't snicker." In any case, it doesn't seem that the 'man-word' is going anywhere soon, so we may as well get used to it. By the way, Nancy, you may want to update your article to include ACTIVSKIN and your friendly neighborhood mantyhose blog, The Nylon Gene... hmmm? [g]
BTW, Unfortunately, the full article is available only at Visual Thesaurus, which requires a subscription to gain access and read the article in its entirety. Don't scold me for posting a reference to something with restricted access. I signed up for a trial membership to VT so I could read it. Maybe you'll do likewise and find that you like VT enough to stay?
Monday, September 14, 2009
I took Sunday's Nylon Gene post ("Fall Legwear = Friday Night Football") and reworked it into an article that I published in my Examiner column. In it, I observe how men's legwear is moving into the mainstream, as evidenced by the reactions (or lack thereof) of people when they see a guy out in public in very obvious legwear and shorts. You can read the full article at: http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-23141-Columbus-Mens-Legwear-Examiner~y2009m9d14-Mens-legwear-Signs-of-moving-toward-mainstream
If you like the article, please pass it along to others. You can use the 'share this' buttons, or post it on Twitter for others to read as well (along with the URL--use a URL shorterner if necessary). Every little bit helps.
He’s got legs!
It takes a real man to test the latest fashion ‘trend’—shapewear for guys. Pete Johnson, co-owner of The Brewhouse, is just the man to do it.
read on for the text from the Santa Barbara News-Press article that featured ActivSkin Legwear...
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2009
By DAVE MASON
NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER
It happens to women all the time, and now it's happening to a big guy who likes to make beer.
“Oops,” Pete Johnson says from behind a bedroom door at his Santa Barbara house. “I've got a run in them already. They're like pantyhose.”
He had just leaped into “mantyhose.”
Things are now so quiet at his home that you can hear the birds softly chirping outside and the tick, tick, tick of a nearby living room clock.
Mr. Johnson, 54, is thinking.
“Hmmm,” he says, after finding out that putting on the ActivSkin Legwear for Men isn't like throwing on a pair of jeans.
Softly grunting, he tries bunching up the hose. Now he's got it!
He puts shorts on over the leg wear and a T-shirt over a Core Precision undershirt. A few minutes ago, he was wearing the shirt backwards before figuring out which side is the front. It's tagless.
“I feel skinnier already,” Mr. Johnson had said after correctly getting into the shirt, part of men's shapewear. At the News-Press' request, Mr. Johnson agreed to wear a special undershirt and men's leg wear to see their impact on appearance and comfort. The newspaper picked him because he's a fairly big guy at 5 foot 8 and 210 pounds. He admits he has a beer gut. And he's a good sport with a good sense of humor.
In other words, he's the right man for this job.
Now fully dressed, a smiling Mr. Johnson walks proudly out of his bedroom. He doesn't seem to mind the panty– er, mantyhose. “It almost looks like a good tan. I can almost get by; people will think it's just my legs.”
Wearing shorts, a T-shirt and short boots, he walks out to his driveway and puts a tape measure around his waist: 42 inches.
“I lost 2 inches from my belly,” says Mr. Johnson, who already had lost 10 pounds during the past month of dieting and swimming.
Looking again at his legs, he notes, “It doesn't look too bad.
“Actually, it's pretty comfortable,” he says, looking up again. “They're not hot. My clothes go over them pretty easily. It feels fairly normal. It's not grinding. It seems to move naturally.
“I'm going to a Dodgers game,” he says, adding that he might keep them on for that.
His shorts cover the run he had put in the stocking's left leg. “I didn't realize how tight it would be in my leg. I guess it's a skill putting on pantyhose.” He explains he learned quickly to bundle them up.
Did he have any hesitation about trying them on?
“A little bit, but it sounded silly and fun,” Mr. Johnson says. “I make beer for a living; how serious is that?”
Still, “I've never been a fashion model before,” he says with a slight grin. “It did seem kind of strange.”
But not only does he put on the special garments; he keeps them on for most of the day and keeps an informal log about it.
“... 9:35 (a.m.) Sitting, eating is no problem. Still pretty comfortable,” he writes a few minutes after the News-Press leaves him to his adventure.
“ ... 9:55. Clothes slide over these things easily. In fact, my shorts keep falling down. I'm forced to punch a new hole in my belt to keep them up.
“ ... 10:15. I show my wife (at her office at Vista del Monte, a retirement community). Jean (Johnson) doesn't see much change.” (After this, Mr. Johnson drives to The Brewhouse, which he co-owns.)
“ ... 10:55. Starting to itch around my armpits.
“ ... 11:02. I need to use the restroom. Those of who drink beer regularly would appreciate a fly in these things.” (Well, there are some styles with that special feature, Steve Newman, ActivSkin marketing director, later tells the News-Press.)
The News-Press catches up again with Mr. Johnson at a table in the Brewhouse at 2 p.m., just after he talked about the special leg wear with customers. Still wearing the undergarments, he says no one noticed his stockings until he pointed them out. He had talked to three women and four men, a mix of his customers and employees, about it.
“You'd think that would make a visible difference,” he says about being suddenly slimmer. “People diet for a year to lose 2 inches.”
But a bartender expresses surprise as the News-Press tells her Mr. Johnson is wearing hosiery.
“Oh, wow, I didn't notice,” says Amy Roarty, 29, of Santa Barbara, with a genuine look of surprise. “I think it's awesome.”
She adds she doesn't think it makes Mr. Johnson less manly. “Not in this age.”
In fact, a customer, Sheri Benninghoven of Santa Barbara, sitting at a nearby table, compliments Mr. Johnson. “He looks fabulous,” she says, then immediately adds, “He makes quite good beer.”
Terren Braen, the wife of Mr. Johnson's brewery assistant Paul Nichols, is sitting at the bar and says Mr. Johnson had told her that he would be wearing the undergarments.
“I thought he looked pretty good, but if he hadn't pointed it out, I wouldn't have noticed,” she says. “He looks pretty relaxed.”
Not that she's surprised he would wear the garments. “Pete? No, he'll try anything.
“I was teasing him that he should wear it (the manty hose) under lederhosen,” she says, chuckling.
She adds she could imagine other men, including those going to their 20-year high school reunion, wearing the shapewear to look slimmer.
As Mrs. Braen talks, Mr. Johnson doesn't seem embarrassed about wearing the garments.
“I'm fairly secure about my masculinity,” he says, now sitting at a table with a manly drink, a mug of dark beer. “A man does what he pleases and doesn't worry about what anyone else thinks.”
Now there's a little twinkle in his eye. His voice gets a bit softer.
“As long my wife doesn't mind, of course.”
His smile grows bigger.
But Mr. Johnson has changed his mind about one thing: He's not wearing the manty hose to the Dodgers' game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. For one thing, he says, it would be awkward to go into the stadium restroom in Los Angeles.
For another, “I would feel silly sitting there (and watching the game) in pantyhose,” he says.
After getting photographed by the News-Press in his brewery, Mr. Johnson walks toward a rear bathroom to take off the underwear.
He's a little more experienced. Taking off the shirt requires a technique.
“Instead of pulling it over your head, you drop your shoulders and pull your arms out,” he says just before walking into the restroom.
As a few customers chat away in the background, Mr. Johnson quietly removes the mantyhose and shirt. This time he doesn't put a run in it.
“The hose comes off really easily,” he says from behind the bathroom door.
And on that note, with the undergarments now a memory, he leaves for the Dodgers game.
A few days later, Mr. Johnson, who still has the mantyhose and the special shirt, hasn't put them on again. “You know, I'd be surprised if I wore them,” he says by phone. “If I were young and trying to impress women, I'd be likely to, but the main reason I'm attempting to lose weight is to feel better and be healthier. I'm past the time of trying to impress people with my appearance.
“My wife already knows what I look like, and she's the only one I'm trying to impress,” he says.
On the other hand, the undershirt did take 2 inches off his waist. “It's easier than giving up beer,” he says.
And, Mr. Johnson says, the undergarments aren't uncomfortable. “But I'm not wearing high heels.”
Would he, if the News-Press asked him?
“Probably not,” he says with a big smile.
This man will go only so far.
SANTA BARBARA NEWS-PRESS
FOR MEN'S LEGS
Wearing “mantyhose” makes the legs feel better.
So said Steve Newman, 49. Mr. Newman started wearing ActivSkin Legwear for Men before he became the marketing director in March for Granville, Ohio-based GLS Hosiery, which has manufactured the leg wear since 1999.
He said the mantyhose has helped his and other men's legs to feel more comfortable during workouts such as long bike rides. He credited the leg wear for reducing aches and cramps, improving circulation in the legs and compressing the leg muscles so they don't bounce during a workout.
He noted football players like wearing the hosiery for games in cold climates and that he likes to wear them during his runs on cold mornings. In addition, he said, horse riders like the hosiery because it prevents chafing.
The ActivSkin line began when Steve Katz, a friend of Mr. Newman, started GLS Hosiery to provide a product for men who had, for various comfort-related reasons, been wearing pantyhose.
Sales have grown consistently and are up 20 percent from last year, Mr. Newman said. But he noted many men haven't wanted their friends and family to know they're wearing the leg wear. “They were afraid of being teased about mantyhose. But that has started to change. We've heard from our customers that a lot of them are wearing them more openly.”
As more men wear the product, the stigma has decreased, he said. Today, about 40 percent of ActivSkin customers are men ages 45 to 55 and 35 percent are between 35 and 45.
Not sold in stores, ActivSkin Legwear for Men is available at www.activskin.com. Prices vary from $6.99 to $17.99.
Customers ordering at the site can get a 10 percent discount by typing in the code word, GNRA22.
Styles are both sheer and opaque, and colors are tan, black and beige. Some of the opaque hosiery is footless.
For more information, read Mr. Newman's blog at http://www.nylongene.com/.
SPECIAL UNDERSHIRT FOR MEN
Men have seen their waist reduced by as much as 3 inches after putting on Core Precision undershirts, according to Corie Chung, Ecumen co-founder and marketing director.
And the shirt compresses flab elsewhere and makes everything firmer, Miss Chung said by phone from New York City.
Core Precision undershirts are being sold at www.ecumen.com and www.Saks.com. The nearest Saks Fifth Avenue store that sells them is in Beverly Hills.
Ecumen, which manufactures the shirts through a plant in Israel, is headquartered in Sydney, Australia.
Prices are $89 for tank tops, $99 for short-sleeved shirts and $109 for long-sleeved tops.
Customers have credited the shirts with improving their posture, Miss Chung said. She added the shirts may help customers relieve their back pain. She said her company worked with a physical therapist in designing it.
The specially designed Lycra-polyester shirts compress “love handles” and other flab by pulling back on the shoulders, she said. The focus, she explained, is on the body core, which includes the waist area and the back behind it.
“It adjusts your body mass to all the right places,” she said.
The shirts, which are similar to gym workout tops, pulls moisture away from the body, she said. “The fabric is very breathable. “It actually makes you feel thinner,” she said. “It's shaped like the body you'd like to have, and you can use it to get the body you'd like to have during workouts.”
She said sales have grown as more men have become aware of the shirts. “We don't use the word ‘shapewear.’ We call it precision wear, fitness wear. ‘Shapewear’ is more of a female term.”
Men, she said, are concerned about having a sculptured, muscular look.
“It does show off your muscles,” she said, but added, “It's not faking; there's no padding.”
Sunday, September 13, 2009
One of the signs that Fall is here (unofficially) is that High School football is in full swing on Friday nights. Mrs. Nylon Gene and I went to watch our Hilliard Darby Panthers play Newark (OH), and also had the treat of seeing our 8th grader get to march with the band at halftime. It was middle school night. My purpose for writing of this in The Nylon Gene is because of the reaction of people in the stands to my wearing sheer black legwear to the football game (ACTIVSKIN Style A560, which are actually semi-sheer). The experience should be of interest to guys who already wear legwear. You'll never guess what happened...
NOTHING!... If you wear legwear, but worry that friends and acquaintances may accuse you of wearing women's wear--read on...
We arrived early, for the pregame festivities, although it was already fairly crowded in the stands. We walked around a bit, while we scanned the crowd for familiar faces. Finally we saw a couple of our kids' friends' moms and took a seat in front of them. While we made our way to the seats; sat and watched the game; waited in line at the concessions; or as I took my son's trumpet case to him after halftime; the black legwear was certainly in evidence. It's rather remarkable how few people took any notice at all, however, since a guy wearing sheer black legwear is still a fairly unusual sight. One might expect pointed stares from all quarters, and even some whispered comments--but that wasn't the case. But then again, I've come to expect little or no notice when I wear dark colored legwear. I should note that in my role as a leading men's legwear advocate, I primarily gravitate toward noticeable shades of legwear so that I can personally promote men's hosiery in my day-to-day activities, even when I'm not engaged in conversation about it. Despite this, a good many people take no notice at all when I'm wearing black or dark brown sheer hose with shorts.
That being said, there were a fair number at the game who did take some notice of my legwear. Most simply lingered momentarily with their gaze and moved on. A few stared a bit longer while trying to appear as if they weren't looking. Yet, to the best of my observations, none seemed to harbor negative thoughts about this novel attire. My perception of the predominant reaction was simply one of curiosity. This harmonizes with conversations on men's legwear I've had on many occasions with a wide variety of people.
For the benefit of guys who may be intimidated by someone noticing and staring at their legwear, it's important to remember the majority of people on the street have yet to be personally exposed to the existence of 'mantyhose' or men's legwear. However, there's a good chance they've read something about it, given the growing media coverage of late. The majority of these articles tend to dispel myths that would associate the new sheer and opaque tights for men with cross dressing and such.
Thus, when personally confronted with it for the first time, some may take a second look because it is something unexpected and out of the ordinary. It doesn't follow that they disapprove of what they see, nor that they think there's something 'wrong' with it. Think of the last time you saw a new model sports car with very unique styling. You probably turned your head to watch as it went by, and the driver didn't assume your stare was disapproving. It may have been... But one couldn't infer that just from the fact you were staring.
During my many travels while wearing dark-colored legwear with shorts, very few people actually stare at my legs. Those that do typically don't betray any negative perceptions with their faces, nor have I encountered any in my conversations about this growing trend. So it would seem that sheer and opaque tights for men have moved ever closer to the mainstream. The aforementioned media coverage has certainly raised public awareness of male legwear as a truly masculine option--establishing nylon legwear for men as a practical option to address a range of legitimate issues faced by men.
So, if you're one of the thousands who've been wearing male legwear for some time, but don't want to forego wearing shorts, take heart. Legwear for men is quickly moving toward the mainstream. You can wear your legwear openly while keeping your masculinity firmly intact.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Leg troubles know no gender boundaries Just a quick note to introduce The Nylon Gene readers to the newest writer for The Examiner, your truly... I was recently accepted as one of their writers and will be writing on men's issues, with a special focus on men's legwear. In fact, my title appears as, "Men's Legwear Examiner." Make sure and stop by to read the article. And keep your eyes open for more to come...
Posted using ShareThis
Thursday, September 3, 2009
[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!?
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 http://www.comfilon.com/
[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]