Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mantyhose Story Is Getting 'Legs'

Emilio Cavallini's Unisex TightsI wrote to tell readers about the Philadelphia Magazine article, "In Defense of Men's Tights" last Friday. Now it seems to have been picked up on by Toronto Life. Karen Liu published an article yesterday called, "The Next Big Thing From Europe: Mantyhose". This story may have the potential to be picked up and reprinted in a number of markets. That's always a good thing for raising the awareness level of men's legwear--even when the legwear in question tends to evoke some strong negative reactions because of the style depicted.

Givenchy Spring/Summer 2010, male tights as part of outfitIt's a fairly short article that mostly refers to the previous one from last Friday. However, Ms. Liu does note that, "pantyhose for men, or mantyhose, were spotted in Givenchy's Spring/Summer 2010 fashion show", and also that We Love Colors, a company specializing in tights in a wide range of colors, now offers several lines of tights for men.

Givenchy's Fall 2010 Men's line features several outfits incorporating spandex tightsI did a little searching on the Givency line and found the referenced legwear that showed up subtly in the Spring/Summer 2010 line. Even more notable is how much more pronounced it was in the Fall 2010 lineup. Some of us who follow these things have seen hosiery show up in designer fashion shows in the past, but these were typically from John Paul Gaulthier, et al, and tended toward the more bizarre end of the spectrum.

Detail: Givenchy's Fall 2010 Men's line includes spandex tightsWhat's notable about the Givenchy items is how the look is somewhat closer to something you could actually see on a street somewhere, someday. Very little that appears on any fashion runway is something the average guy would be wearing in the foreseeable future, but the appearance of male tights and shorts in this lineup appears to bode well for the eventual entry of men's legwear into the mainstream. That's the trajectory that trends often follow. First, the fringe elements, then the 'hipsters' (as referred to in the article), and eventually the fashionable--where it begins to be truly commercially viable-- and finally the vast mainstream.

I posted a comment on the article's website, following one from Darrell at Legwear4Men taking the writer to task for overlooking the true U.S. roots of the male legwear trend (Ohio's very own ACTIVSKIN Legwear for Men). In it, I commented on the paradox of media coverage focusing on the wilder patterns that only a small fraction of men are wearing, compared to the basic, non-flashy legwear that most men wear today. I've reposted it here below:

I have to echo what Legwear4Men said above. Media coverage of men’s legwear is an odd kind of paradox. On the one hand, it is rare to see feature stories on the plain ol’ tights or sheer hosiery the vast majority of guys wearing them actually have on their legs. Yet there’s a high level of coverage of the really splashy-looking tights (ie, the Emilio Cavallini checkered tights shown above) that only a tiny minority of male legwear wearers would wear. Myself, I wear tights/sheer hose for leg support, and wear them with shorts without reservation. Yet, I would never wear the checkered or striped tights in EC’s catalog.

Why the disparity in coverage between what real men are really wearing, and the styles that maybe 1% would be seen in? Maybe partly because plain and ordinary doesn’t sell as news. Maybe because it’s more ‘fun’ to display styles that are much more likely to evoke a good, “ewwwww”, or “ROFLMAO”, etc, etc.

I don’t get too excited over it, though. I’ve been closely involved with publicizing the emerging men’s legwear trend long enough (see my blog, The Nylon Gene, http://www.nylongene.com) that I can see the gradual, and sometimes grudging, increase in overall acceptance of ‘mantyhose’ despite the somewhat negative impact the wild patterns have on public perceptions.

Little by little, people are coming to realize that they aren’t representative of the legwear that makes up the bulk of the market, that there are some very practical reasons for wearing it (as in the Philly Mag article), and guys can wear it without sticking out like a sore thumb.


  1. Steve,

    It's high time that ActivSkin came up with a professional media set comprising of professional photo's of its male legwear products (mantyhose). All I see now circulated on online publications are the e-MANcipate.net and the Cavallini photo's (kudos to them for providing professional looking photos to the hungry media). Isn't it time for ActivSkin to actively take a part of the media exposure pie with its own set of professional and respresentative images.

    Best regards, Alejandro

  2. Steve,
    I agree with you that the way Givenchy presents legwear is getting closer and closer to actual streetwear. The other interesting thing is that on the last photo of the Spring 2010 collection, the designer appears on stage and he is himself wearing tights !!!

  3. I hadn't noticed that. I'll have to go back and look at that.

  4. The Toronto Life story is generating a lot of discussion. It's up to 24 comments so far (albeit, including 3 from Yours Truly) and is the most commented article at this point. Good exposure in a publication that probably has a pretty decent readership.

  5. I wished it could be like that in America. I was getting around to wearing pantyhose without that scared feeling but now I think I lost my mojo. See, I live in Washington D.C. and I see a lot of women walking in the streets in tights/pantyhose, leggings, and even skin tight jeans but guys? Very disappointingly, so few of them do and only when they're going jogging or bicycling. I have yet to see a man wearing pantyhose under his shorts so that I might join him. Being an Indian American, it's not easy for a guy like me to start such a movement. Not only would I risk public embarrassment but also the Indian community humiliating me almost to the point of wishing I had never been born. I like what you have been saying out there Mr. Newman and I honour your efforts but out here in Washington, men wearing legwear or tights under their shorts outside is a pipe dream. I'm not sure I have your strength Steve. Maybe it's just the winter time but there are too many good looking women dressed too nicely with their nice skinny legs in tights to show for it. How do we guys compete against that?

    P.S.: I recently went to India and there men could still wear their dothis at knee length almost looking like they were wearing skirts. As the weather in India is very hot and humid, the only people I see wearing tights/pantyhose are airport ladies, female nurses, and a few business ladies. I have yet to see women even in Northern India wearing pantyhose. I have seen a few women wearing legwear as part of salwaar kameez but again legwear is not frequent.

  6. Alejandro,

    I agree, we could stand to have some updated higher-quality images produced. Unlike Cavallini, whose corporate resources are large, or Chan Kraemer, who does not produce legwear products, ActivSkin has to divide limited resources between product photography, advertising, and new product development. Right now, new product development is a major focus. ActivSkin will surely engage updated product imagery in the not-too-distant future.

    In the meantime, I have some product images posted on my ActivSkin Facebook Fan page. Check them out and see what you think.

  7. Ranjit,

    I appreciate what you are saying, but I think you might want to work on becoming one who influences things, rather than the one who is influenced. In other words, you have it within your grasp to do what you will with respect to legwear.

    We hear more every day of how this person or that guy has decided to wear what he wants and not let fear of the opinions of others dissuade them. The result: typically they learn that their fears were largely unfounded.

    It's all about doing what you do with confidence. If you can do that, you will project that air around you and others will respect you for it.

  8. Steve, I don't know where to start. I don't know what has made me lose my confidence other than perhaps the messy breakup with my date. I was to meet her with another day getting better and then she bugs me about her hearing that I wear pantyhose. I tried to stop her from talking about it but she wouldn't let it go. Then this blows up into a flare. She calls me a gay pervert and says I need mental counseling and then I fire back at her calling her Salwar Kameez outfit unBrahmin like. I tell her that I get attracted to women wearing shorts or mini skirts and pantyhose or women dressed in saris. I also shot back at her saying that since the legs part of Salwar kameez is almost as good as wearing tights. I tell her that she would look better wearing pantyhose in place just like some Indian girls wearing tight jeans as part of their salwar kameez and then she blows up and we're in an ugly shouting match. The next day, my parents lecture me about dress and manners and torment me about my comments on pantyhose. I didn't think that it would come to this. My parents could care less that I wear pantyhose since they already gave me a couple of pairs of above the knee stockings for that upcoming plane trip but I don't know.

    I still do get that hooked feeling when I see a young lady or other dressed up nice and tight especially in pantyhose and boots with a nice blouse or turtleneck walking by but then I just turn away in disgust since such beauties remind me of that day.

    At work too, I get turned off when I see the ladies dressed like they're showing off. I also get annoyed when they're having fun complimenting each others' "sexy" boots or heels. I feel like shouting DINGBAT or FLOOZY in anger but I don't want to lose my job. I don't know what it will take to be able to influence things. I'm not sure if it's just bad luck or that I'm living in the wrong place that's problem.

    I'm still worried about getting past the marriageable age and worrying my parents along with just not knowing how to best let my partner know. I don't want my wearing pantyhose for health and comfort to be a liability but I don't know where to start my mental recovery on this issue on.

  9. Ranjit,
    I'm sorry to hear you've had such a poor experience with your girlfriend. I suspect that after some time has passed, you'll recover from it and begin to recover your confidence as well--ast least to the level it was originally. However, from the tone of your post, you may have need to gain more confidence in yourself overall. I wish you the best with your struggle.

  10. I dont know what the big deal is. Why are women so afraid of this new trend. Like we really care what they think anyway. We wear what we want. If I am not mistaken, wasnt it men who in their hose and wigs, formed this country over 200 years ago? Even thigh high boots were exclusively a Mens fashion choice many years ago, before women dominated that market and left men with nothing but nikes tennis shoes and black dress shoes - and thats it. I wonder why women can wear mens pants, shoes, watches, wedding bands, shirts, hats, before they even get to whats exclusively available to them, and no one thinks twice. A man in a dress and hose is still a man capable of rounding up cattle, rope some steer, crush a beer can with his teeth, build a city, take over a country, wipe out a society in the Yucatan, command a ship, be a Grand Inquisitor, and pop a beer bottle cap from its container. Men rule and we will take back what is rightfully ours!

  11. when is the fashion industry going to realize what men really want? We want diversity in our selection. We want selection in our shoes and we want the same options as women in fashion. Do you realize how lucrative this market would be if the designers would just research and listen to what men really want? their riches would be flowing like water in their accounts because men would buy the items off the shelves - stores would not be able to keep them in stock.

  12. i beleive men are the reason, most of the womens hosiery makers and boot designers and shoe makers are even still in business.

  13. I agree with you. The makers of women's hosiery could make a killing if they ever tried even slightly catering to the many men who already buy their products in sufficient numbers to keep them from totally collapsing under the barelegged assault coming from many (not all) quarters of the female market.

    Rather than doing that, they continue to cling to a market that has declined considerably since it's 1960s heyday. They could wind up being like those people who get sucked under if they stay too close to a sinking ocean liner when it slips beneath the water surface.


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