Monday, March 29, 2010

Mantyhose: What It's NOT--What It IS...

Men's Legwear in Real LifeI posted a comment on an article on "Men In Tights" on (a blog about stuff guys like) today. With all the buzz going on these days about the topic of men's legwear, I thought my comments might be useful to repost here on The Nylon Gene. They may prove useful in helping those who read superficial treatments of the men's legwear trend get past some of the misconceptions out there...

We generally fear, or mock, that which we don't understand. So let's take a look at what 'mantyhose' IS and what it's NOT (generally speaking):

This is NOT what we mean by 'mantyhose'In general, it's NOT what's pictured on the guy standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, pictured at right. That's definitely something that's pretty far out there on the fringe of things. It doesn't represent what the vast majority of guys who wear legwear want to wear.

It's also NOT a gay thing. From what I've read on a variety of blogs and forums, gay men for the most part feel about the same way about pantyhose as the stereotypical woman does. They don't like them and don't want to wear them.

It's NOT an attempt to revert back to fashions of the 1700s. If it's sometimes pointed out that men were the ones who wore the tights in the Middle Ages, it's only to illustrate that they're NOT exclusively a female garment.

It's NOT a secret desire to cross dress, either. Guys who are wearing the male hosiery on the market today (which does come with a fly, BTW) aren't typically combining it with other female items to start dressing as a woman.

It IS a recognition that men are as likely as women to have tired, achy legs due to poor circulation, and that support hosiery provides relief if worn consistently. Sometimes they're worn under jeans or other pants--sometimes they're worn with shorts. Sometimes they're in virtually invisible colors that closely matches skintone--sometimes they're worn in more visible colors like black or dark grey.

It IS a way to attain added warmth beneath outer clothing without the added bulk of long johns or sweatpants. Some guys can live with long johns, others prefer the thin fabric that moves with them.

It IS a way for athletes (especially runners and cyclists) to keep the chill off the legs when they first go outside--yet avoid overheating after their body temperature rises with exercise.

It IS also a way for those athletes to enhance stamina somewhat with the moderate muscle compression provided by support styles of hosiery.

It IS a garment worn for fashion in some cases, in that guys are recognizing they can successfully add them to a masculine outfit if properly coordinated (i.e., not as shown in the photo above, by the Eiffel Tower).

Steve Newman/Legwear AdvocateHowever, for the most part, it IS something generally worn for more functional purposes. For my part, I initially started wearing tights or sheer hose for leg support. But after a few years I recognized I didn't want to give up wearing shorts for good, just because I needed to wear support-style hosiery to keep my legs from aching. I've been wearing them openly among friends and colleages for years now, and nobody questions my manhood because of it.

If you're a basically masculine guy in the first place, wearing legwear doesn't detract from it. Yet, if you're an effeminate guy it doesn't matter if you wear a Rambo outfit--you'll STILL look like a girly-man. (anybody here old enough to remember Michael Dukakis wearing the tank commander helmet during the 1988 presidential campaign?)

As with most everything, there are no absolutes. The foregoing statements represent the bulk of men who wear legwear today. Yes, there will be a few who will wear ostentacious patterns and colors out in public with shorts. Yes, there are gay men who wear pantyhose and like them. Yes, there are certainly cross dressers who wear pantyhose with their outfits, too. But, by and large those are NOT representative of the majority of men wearing nylon legwear--and on behalf of them I hope to shed a bit of light on the subject. Hopefully, this will cause more writers to stop and take a more reasoned approach to the "mantyhose question".


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mantyhose & the 3 Secret Weapons for Entrepreneurs

Renee and Don Marton published an article on the Huffington Post on March 4th, entitled "Three Secret Weapons for Entrepreneurs". In reading it, I couldn't help but mentally evaluate how well ActivSkin Legwear models these weapons in their business model. The three weapons listed were: ...

Finding Underserved Niche
ActivSkin's underserved market is men who suffer from poor leg circulation--cramps, achy/tired legs, feeling of 'heaviness'. Although men are as likely as women to suffer from these complaints, there has not been a product analogous to support pantyhose (thus far) available to men. Yet, wearing support hosiery has a beneficial effect on this condition, and can prevent it from getting worse, too. Because of the nearly insurmountable association of sheer legwear and tights with women's wear, and the fact that no male products have been widely marketed prior to ActivSkin, men have been forced to just 'suck it up' and not complain too much about how their legs feel. That is, until the pain or discomfort gets so bad their doctor prescribes medical-grade hosiery--which everyone finds to be too hot, too tight, too expensive and too uncomfortable.

Buck The Conventional Widsom
ActivSkin certainly bucks the Conventional Wisdom, which says, "tights/pantyhose are for women ONLY!" ActivSkin has been in business for 10 years now, and has grown nearly every year since its inception. That shows that the conventional wisdom is mistaken, when it comes to men wearing this sort of legwear for legitimate, practical reasons. The CW also says that men wouldn't wear pantyhose or tights--even if they're beneficial--out of fear of being negatively labeled by peers. However, despite an uphill battle in the beginning, we've perservered and those mistaken misconceptions are slowly, but surely, fading away. Some men are still tentative about this emerging trend, but every month more and more are willing to give it a try--and once they do, many decide their leg health overrides those misplaced fears... A few even venture out wearing them with shorts--like myself.

Spot a Trend and Pounce
Steve Katz, the founder of ActivSkin spotted a trend years ago when he discovered an online discussion board at the website. Surprisingly, the bulk of discussion was being carried on by... men. Most notably, these men were focused on how they had discovered that women's support pantyhose provided definite, practical benefits to those with leg circulation problems. Others noted how they were also a good base layer beneath clothing for added warmth without the bulk of long johns. This discovery led him to circulate a survey exploring this hidden trend further, and ultimately led to the formation of ActivSkin (originally marketed under the brand name, Comfilon).

The company was a success from the beginning, finding enough customers for this underserved niche to maintain and grow the business for the past 10 years. ActivSkin still works to 'get over the hump', achieving breakout status, but believes it to be within reach. The current economic conditions in the U.S. and around the world continue to depress sales in all market sectors. However, ActivSkin has been able to hold its own despite being a small company. One additional entrepreneurial weapon that the Sarah Blakelys of the world need is perserverance--the ability to stay the course until the right combination of factors can launch you to the next level. And, that's what ActivSkin has demonstrated all along.


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